Opera Insight 


A one-session introduction to a specific opera (2 hours), combined with a follow-up visit to a performance at an opera venue.


The Insight package is designed to enhance your enjoyment of the performance of a specific opera. The initial session will provide you with the essential background and history of the opera in question, including its plot, libretto and sources. The main aspects of the staging and music will be explained in non-technical language and short extracts will introduce you to the main characters, what to expect and what to look out for. You will be accompanied to the performance by Claudio. A recommended discography and DVDs of the opera will be provided for further study.


Opera Taster


A one-session general introduction to opera (2 hours plus short break).


This session consists of two halves. The first, ‘Behind the Scenes’, uses short presentations, audio-visual extracts and discussion to introduce you to the essential people involved in any opera – ranging from the composer and librettist, to the stage director and production team, to the musicians, conductor and, of course, the singers. Learn how all these people make opera a vibrant, living art form. The second part, ‘Opera from Then till Now’, uses the same format to provide a short tour through the colourful history of opera, from its beginnings in the courts of Italy, to the grand opera houses of the Nineteenth Century, to the hi-tech, multi-media productions of today. You will learn that the history of opera has never been short of incident or celebrities.

Opera Eye Opener

Set of ten sessions of  90 minutes.

Programme The programme is illustrated throughout with carefully selected extracts (both audio and video) designed to introduce you step-by-step to the basics of opera and its appreciation. My purpose is that you get familiar with the staging of an opera and its history and different influences throughout history, its different repertoires and creators. Eye Opener I: Opera Inside, and the Beginnings Eye Opener II: New Century, New Start Eye Opener III: Glück and Mozart Eye Opener IV: Beethoven and Wagner Eye Opener V: Grand Opera, France in the 19th Century Eye Opener VI: Opera goes East and Bel Canto I Eye Opener VII: Bel Canto II Eye Opener VIII: Maestro Verdi Eye Opener IX: Verismo Eye Opener X: Strauss and After

Eye Opener I: Opera inside, and the Beginnings 1) Behind the Scenes: Who’s Who, the Essential People in Opera Who are the people involved in the production and staging of an Opera and their roles? What are their roles and how do they work together? The composer, the librettist, the singers – different types of voices, the chorus, the conductor, the orchestra, the stage director and the team Who is the star now: the conductor? the singer? the stage director? 2) Origins and Background of Opera Learn how and when opera really began in Italy, how it spread, and how the public reacted to it. Discover the influence of Monteverdi. See what happened when opera arrived in France and England. And what were the reactions in Vienna, Germany and Spain? Audio and video extracts from operas by Landi, Monteverdi, Rameau

Eye Opener II: New Century, New Start Importance and origins of the castrato. Handel and his influence. See what happened when opera reached France: Importance of the ballet in the court and in the opera, where taste was dominated by the works of Lully and Rameau. Audio and video extracts from operas by Handel and Rameau.

Eye Opener III: Glück and Mozart After a period in which opera became over-ornamental and dominated by singers such as the charismatic castrati, we see how a new generation of librettists and composers such as Gluck changed the operatic landscape for generations to come. Discover opera buffa and opera comique. Learn to appreciate what made Mozart’s contribution to opera so special. Audio and video extracts from operas by Pergolesi, Gluck and Mozart.

Eye Opener IV: Beethoven and Wagner Explore Beethoven’s genius through his only opera Fidelio. Let’s investigate how Wagner changed the course of opera and created a new world of music and sound, text, singing style, performance and staging. Audio and video extracts from operas by Beethoven and Wagner.

Eye Opener V: Grand Opera – France in the 19th Century See how opera evolved in France and became Grand Opera. Learn about the structure of Grand Opera and influence of the ‘exotic’ (Spain, India, the Orient). See how Offenbach introduced the new style of opera comique. Who was Debussy, and what difference did he make with his Pelléas et Mélisande? Audio and video extracts from operas by Cherubini, Meyerbeer, Massenet, Gounod, Bizet, Offenbach and Debussy.

Eye Opener VI: Opera Goes East and Bel Canto I, Opera of the East See what happened when opera reached eastern Europe and Russia and how national schools of opera were born there. What is ‘Bel Canto’? See how it evolved from previous singing styles. Find out the role of bel canto singers and who were the first ‘prima donnas’. Audio and video extracts from operas by Tchaikovsky and Mercadante.

Eye Opener VII: Bel Canto II Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti: See how these composers completely changed  the opera world with their works and how these had an impact in Italy and in France. Audio and video extracts from operas by Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini.

Eye Opener VIII: Maestro Verdi What was happening in Italy in the 19th century? Find out who Verdi was and why he is regarded as the father of Italian opera. Explore the different periods of his life and artistic career. Audio and video extracts from operas by Verdi.

Eye Opener IX: Verismo and the end of Romanticism What is ‘verismo’? Why, where and when did it appear in Italian opera with Puccini and his compatriots? Who, across the border in Vienna, was Richard Strauss? Find out how Italian opera branches out into different styles. Follow the changing styles of Strauss’s operas from Wagnerian to Expressionist to Neo-Classical and his unique artistic collaboration with the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Audio and video extracts from operas by Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini and Strauss.

Eye Opener X: Modern and contemporary opera We then investigate the different musical trends during the 20th century to the present day, from Berg to Britten to Ligeti and Glass and how opera continues to evolve and reinvent itself as a living, sometimes controversial art – but one that is reaching ever new audiences. The use of new technologies , including film and digital media, is redefining the future of opera. Audio and video extracts from operas by Berg, Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Britten, Poulenc, Ligeti and Glass.     Bibliography Recommended discography and DVD’s