We will start our winter operatic potpourri with a selection of French operas, add a touch of German post-romanticism and cap it off with an American Musical. To the consternation of the English, French composer Ambroise Thomas had the audacity to compose an opera based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Thomas’ version, although not as profound as its source, maintains operatic tension. This is especially so in the production I will use which features Simon Keenlyside. Our second opera, which will take two evenings to cover, will be Berlioz’s masterpiece Les Troyens. The first complete performance of the critical score was given in London in 1969. Using the traditional structure of separate musical numbers, Berlioz creates an intense and ultimately tragic story of Aeneas and Dido. We will finish our French exploration with Jean-Philippe Rameau’s musically diverse Baroque opera-ballet Les Indes Galantes. He uses the theme of love in exotic locales (Ottoman Empire, Peru, Persia and North America) to unite each of these individual stories by combining the French love of ballet with opera. Our exploration of German post-romanticism brings us to Frichard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten. Like Mozart’s DieZauberflote this is a symbolic opera dealing with the attempts of two couples to find love. Strauss’ hyper-romantic score and melodies sweep you through the lows of loss and depression to the heights of earthly fulfillment and soulful ecstasy. We will end with Jerome Kern’s Show Boat. This tuneful musical changed the ground rules for the future of the genre. Instead of the use of fluffy disconnected songs and dances, Show Boat showed what was possible when dealing with the serious issue of racial prejudice.
Class will meet on January 19, February 2, 9, 23 and March 9, 23.
Dave Collins has been lecturing on opera in the greater Boston area for over 25 years. He had been Opera Boston’s resident lecturer for 8 years. He has given opera courses at MIT, Regis College, The Boston Center for Adult Education and The Cambridge Center for Adult Education as well as lecturing at Northeastern University. Dave is currently a trustee of The Boston Wagner Association. Dave received his Bachelor degree from Boston University’s School of Music, his Master’s from Lesley University and did post grad work at the New England Conservatory and the University of Connecticut – Hart School of Music.