Opera Literature
Music 4124
First meeting of this class: Jan. 19, 2010
Instructor: Paul Zweifel
email: zweifel@alumni.duke.edu
tel: 540-639-1295  cell: 540-230-1150


The class will meet 15 Tuesday afternoons from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Squires Recital Salon and 3 Wednesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in Squires 162 (Choral rehearsal room).

We will study six operas in detail, watching videos and discussing the musical, dramatic, historical and/or literary attributes of each. We will also talk about  the art form of opera in general, startng with Greek drama and working up to the 21st century.

The class period following the completion of
each opera studied, each student will be required
to turn in a short (1-2 page) critique of the
opera. Do not simply rehash the plot, but
rather attempt to give some insight into the
dramatic, musical or literary-historical
background of the work.

The last six class periods and, if needed, the final exam period will be devoted to presentations by students of an opera not already covered in the class. Teams of students
will be formed to work together on an approximately
one-hour presentation. The instructor will provide a list of operas from which to choose, and  will also provide videos and, if desired, assistance in preparation. Or the students
can choose their own favorite opera, if a video is available.
30% class participation (discussion)
30% critiques
40% final presentation.  


L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi


Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart

Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi

Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod

Salome by Richard Strauss

Dr. Atomic by John Adams

Texts: Ticket to the Opera by Phil. G. Goulding. (Fawcett books).

Libretti: The libretti of the following
operas are available online:



(English only)



(English only)

Romeo et Juliette


(French only. Sorry.)

Dr. Atomic


The libretti for Salome and Don Giovanni are available 

from amazon.com at reasonable prices.

You are expected to have learned the story of the operas before they are studied in class. The libretti will be useful for this. In addition, Wikepedia gives stories of all the operas. 
Simply Google the name of the opera and the Wikepedia
website will appear.

In addition there will be a handout of an unpublished article on Don Giovanni written by the instructor. Also, the following webpages will be useful:

Salome 1.

Salome 2.

Romeo et Juliette.

Don Giovanni.



CLASS SCHEDULE (RS=Recital Salon; 162=Squires 162, Choral rehearsal room)

Tuesday Jan. 19 (RS)
Welcome, Pictures. What is opera? Why is opera?
Mjusical examples. Monody, organum, polyphony.
Bel canto, da capo arias, cabalette, motifs, etc. 
Arias and recitative.

Tuesday, Jan. 26 (RS)
L'Orfeo First part. 55 min. 
Lecture and discussion, 65 min.

Tuesday, Feb.  2. (RS)
Class canceled. Weather.                                                                                                                          (L'Orfeo was completed Jan. 26, a week ahead of scheule.)

Tuesday, Feb. 9. (RS) Critique of L'Orfeo due.
Don Giovanni.  First part, 90 min.
Discussion 30 min.

Tuesday Feb. 16. (RS)
Don Giovanni.
Second part. 90 min.
Discussion 30 min.

Tuesday, Feb.  23. (RS) Critique of Don Giovanni due. #
Romeo. First part. 90 min.
Discussion 30 min.

Tuesday, Mar. 2. (RS)
Romeo. Second part. 90 min.
Discussion 30 min. 

Tuesday, Mar. 9.   Spring Break,

Tuesday, Mar. 16. (RS) Critique of Romeo due.
First part. 55 min.
Discussion  60 min.

Tuesday, Mar. 23 (RS)
Rigoletto. Second part. 65 min.
Discussion  50 min.

Tuesday, Mar. 30 (RS) Critique of Rigoletto due.
Salome  100m min..
Discussion 15 min.

Tuesday, Apr. 6. (RS)
Continue discussion of Salome. 20 minutes.
Lecture introduction to Dr. Atomic. 20 minutes. 
Dr. Atomic video 80 minutes.

Tuesday Apr. 13.  (RS) Critique of Salome due. #                   
Dr. Atomic video 85 minutes.
Discussion 35 minutes.

Tuesday April 20, 27 and May 4. (RS) Critique of Dr. Atromic due April 20.
Student presentations.

Wednesday Aporil 21, 28 and May 5. (162)
Student presentations.

 # indicates visiting professor for this class.    Mrs. McDuffie