Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Opera in the Classical and Romantic Eras

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Music Studies

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will focus on opera as an art-form that kept embracing change during the Classical and Romantic eras. Opera will be understood as an artistic and historical reflection on the change in society drawing on various issues such as dramatic and musical conventions, its reception history, political overtones together with elements of nationalism, anti-semitism and anti-clericalism.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit is designed to offer an in-depth study to encourage a critical and analytical approach to the study of Classical and Romantic opera. The unit will dwell on Mozart's handling of tonality in Classical Period, Bel Canto composers, Verdi’s role in the Risorgimento, Wagnerian political issues, French Grand opera and anti-German sentiment in France. In the learning process, the student will foster an awareness of the historical, cultural and political context of standard operatic works, touching also on anti-Semite and anti-clerical undertones, Nationalism and Verismo.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a) demonstrate familiarity with core sections of the operatic repertoire from 1750 to 1900 through analysis and contextualisation;
b) describe and explain the cultural milieus and political contexts of production and reception of the repertoire;
c) adopt a synoptic approach when considering socio-cultural contexts;
d) evaluate and engage critically with academic and musical texts.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a) demonstrate skills in sophisticated critical thought and self-reflection;
b) demonstrate an understanding of the distinctive aesthetics of Classical and Romantic Opera;
c) demonstrate an understanding of and engagement with the implications of synoptic studies in theatre and music.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts

- Balthazar, S.L. (ed.). 2004. The Cambridge Companion to Verdi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
- Rice, John A. 2009. Mozart on the Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Supplementary Texts

- Montemorra, Marvin Roberta and Thomas. A. Downing (eds). 2006. Operatic Migrations, Transforming Works and Crossing Boundaries (London: Routledge).
- Sarah Hibberd and Richard Wrigley (eds.). 2014. Art, Theatre, and Opera in Paris,1750–1850: Exchanges and Tensions (Surrey: Ashgate).

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: Intermediate Level Music (or higher) or Grade 6 Theory (or higher)

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM1 Yes 10%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 20%
Online Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 70%


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.