The course surveys the historical and artistic evolution of Italian opera, from the Renaissance (Monteverdi) to the Modernity (Puccini). The historical aspects of opera, like singing, instruments, structure, will be studied as well the peculiar components of literature (libretto) and theatre. Emphasis will be placed on the major operatic composers and their masterpieces: From the madrigalistic comedy to the Recitar cantando - C. Monteverdi - The comic and the serious opera (from the 17th until the 18th century) - The Neapolitan School and the Neoclassicism - G. Rossini - V. Bellini, G. Donizetti and the Belcanto - G. Verdi - The melodrama after Verdi and the Verismo - G. Puccini - The opera after Puccini and the contemporary composers.
Week 1 Introduction to the course. The birth of opera. Florentine camerata. Music and poetry: the recitative dramatic style.
Week 2 Monteverdi, the founder of opera: his life and works. Opera goes to Venice: theatres and show business.
Week 3 Opera in XVIII c.: the triumph of Opera Seria. The Neapolitan and Venetian schools. Lyricism and virtuosity: the aria. The Reform opera of Gluck and Calzabigi: a search for unity.
Week 4 Opera Buffa: the tradition of comedy. A Musical entertainment: the intermezzo. Italian era in Europe: Paris, London, Vienna.
Week 5 Mozart’s operas: towards an absolute truth. Da Ponte, a librettist and a libertine.
Week 6 Opera in France in the late XVIII c.: Cherubini e Spontini. The spirit of the French Revolution and the magnificence of the Grand Opera. Beethoven’s Fidelio.
Week 7 Written MID-TERM EXAM.
Week 9. Elements of opera in XIX c.: composers, singers, production, structures. A change of the century: Rossini from Opera Buffa to Romantic opera.
Week 10 The season of Bel Canto. Bellini lyricism in drama. Donizetti: bourgeois spirit in comedy and tragedy
Week 11 Verdi’s operas: human passions and ideals in the era of Risorgimento. Verdi from Nabucco to Falstaff: an evolution in style.
Week 12 Scapigliati and bohemians: Boito and Verdi.
Week 13 A slice of life: the young school of Verismo. Mascagni and Leoncavallo.
Week 14 The sentimental naturalism of Puccini.