Learn more about your favorite operas with our affiliated scholars

Ready to rethink what you know about opera history? In partnership with HLAO and Opera League, we are thrilled to share a groundbreaking course that will explore two works from our 2021/22 season: Rossini’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola) and Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Join Kristi Brown-Montesano, Ph.D., Chair of Music History and Literature at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, for an exploration of the fascinating connections and contrasts between these operas as well as the composers, Gioachino Rossini, famed champion of bel canto style, and Richard Wagner, pioneer of the Gesamtkunstwerk (we’d be lost on that word, too, but luckily, Dr. Brown-Montesano is here to help). This free course is open to anyone and taught over Zoom on four consecutive Saturdays (October 2, 9, 16 and 23) from 11am-12:15pm.

Click here to sign up

We are so thrilled to announce two giveaways for this free series:

45 registered attendees will be selected at random to win two FREE tickets to our production of Tannhäuser on October 16.
5 registered attendees will be selected at random to win a FREE copy of Dr. Kristi Brown-Montesano's book, Understanding the Women of Mozart’s Operas.

Visit this page to plan your visit and learn more about our updated safety guidelines.

For the full course description, read more below.

Course Description

Week 1: A Tale of Two Opera Composers 
We will explore the careers of Rossini and Wagner up to 1850 in the context of European opera cultures—French, German, and Italian—of that time. How did these two creative artists get their start in the world of opera? Where did they achieve their first successes? What musical ideals did they have in common and what were some of the factors behind their very different operatic styles?  

Week 2: The Musical Artist as German Hero: Romanticism, Myth, and Wagner’s Tannhäuser 
This week we will delve into the two medieval stories that Wagner combined for his libretto: the knight-poet seeking redemption after succumbing to Venus’s erotic pleasures and the famous singing contests held at Wartburg Castle. These two German-centric narratives also offered Wagner the perfect vehicle for celebrating the (super) power of the voice.    

Week 3: Bel Canto “Dramedy”: Mixed Musical Styles in La Cenerentola 
By the time he wrote La Cenerentola, Rossini had already mastered a wildly successful comic style and had proven his skill at serious opera as well. For La Cenerentola, Rossini mixed his musical styles more freely, adding dimension to the characters and the overall story. During this session, we will listen to examples of these different musical styles and how they enhance Rossini’s Cinderella story.  

Week 4: How to Build an Opera: from Overture to Scene 
For this final session, we will look at the how Rossini and Wagner put their operas together—their distinct approaches to making La Cenerentola and Tannhäuser musically coherent—from the overture to the arias and ensembles that make up larger scenes. A delightful exercise in active listening!