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Dartmouth College

Introduction to Italian Opera

Dartmouth College via Coursera


This course gives us an introduction to Italian Opera right from its very beginning in Florence, Italy. You will understand how Mozart’s opera is the midpoint of opera. It explores how music tells the audience about the characters' thoughts through musical gestures. It also sheds light on the importance of close listening to understand opera thoroughly.


  • Act I, Scene 1 (Week 1) - Mozart and Close Listening
    • This module utilizes Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro to explore opera and close listening in detail.
  • Act I, Scene 2 (Week 2) - Italian opera before Mozart
    • This module introduces you to the origin of opera. It also utilizes Monteverdi's L’Orfeo to distinguish different styles in opera from one era to another.
  • Act I, Scene 3 (Week 3) - Conventions in Italian opera
    • This module discusses the purpose of specific operatic conventions in the overture, arias, recitative, finales, choruses, cantabile-cabaletta, and instrumental interludes. It also utilizes various approaches on how music conveys the drama.
  • Act II, Scene 1 (Week 4) - The bel canto era
    • This module introduces you to the bel canto era in Italian Opera. It also utilizes Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia to explore the bel canto style.
  • Act II, Scene 2 (Week 5) - Verdi
    • This module discusses the contribution of Giuseppi Verdi in the bel canto era. It also gives you an understanding of Verdi’s influence from Rossini’s work.
  • Act II, Scene 3 (Week 6) - Puccini and his contemporaries
    • This module discusses how Puccini and his contemporaries challenge history and conventions in Italian opera. It also discusses his presence in the regular repertoire of Italian opera.
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Taught by

Steve Swayne


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