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Falling in Love With Contemporary American Opera -- John Frey
Odd Fellows Hall
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Falling in Love With Contemporary American Opera -- John Frey
Thursdays, June 1, 8, 15, 29, July 6 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Oddfellows Hall,  SLO
Five Sessions
$25 for LLCC members, $50 for non-members.

This is a five session course.  Buying a single ticket for this course admits you to all five sessions/classes.

OperaBase statistics for 2013-14 lists over 600 living opera composers world-wide. Of this number, the top three composers in terms of operas composed and performed, are the Americans: Philip Glass, Jake Heggie and John Adams.

In this course we will focus on three of the most popular contemporary American operas: Moby Dick (2010) by Jake Heggie;  Little Women (1998) by Mark Adamo; and Doctor Atomic (2005) by John Adams. These operas represent three aspects of American life: whaling in the 19th Century; family life during the Civil War; and the application of science and technology to warfare during World War II.

        Moby-Dick, based on the novel by Herman Melville, follows the adventures of the whaling ship Pequod and its crew to the South Seas. Leading them is Captain Ahab, who is out to destroy the huge whale; his obsession with vengeance is so great that he dooms himself  and his crew, save one, to their deaths. The opera features an extraordinary staging of the whale hunt.

        Little Women, Louisa May Alcotts chronicle of growing up female in post-Civil War New England, details  the romance of a free-spirited young writer tom between her love of family, the boy next door and a man of the world. The story has a deeper theme - that even those we love ,will, in all innocence, wound and abandon us until we learn that their destinies are not ours to control. The opera video will be preceded by a showing of Little Women, the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder.

        Doctor Atomic focuses on J. Robert Oppenheimer and the great stress and anxiety experienced by those at Los Alamos who prepared the test of the first atomic bomb. As Zero Hour relentlessly approaches individual tensions build feverishly and the team struggles with the moral implications of their work and the possibility of global annihilation. The opera video will be preceded by the acclaimed documentary Wonders are Many which chronicles the making of the opera.

Each session consists of a 30-minute commentary and discussion as well as a 2.5-hr showing of each video. The course syllabus includes (1) an analysis of the plot of each of the videos, (2) a synopsis and list of characters, (3) a description of the source material that inspired the works and (4) brief biographies of authors, composers and performers. A list of recommended CDs, DVDs and books is provided. The course will familiarize you with the scope of contemporary American opera.

John Frey is a retired Chemistry professor and a member of the boards of LLCC, Festival Mozaic and of Opera Lovers Meet.  He has performed in the chorus of Opera San Luis Obispo and the SLO Master Chorale.  He has had a lifelong love and passion for opera, choral music and musical theater.  He has made numerous commentaries and video presentations for SLOs Opera Lovers, OperaSLO and LLCC.

If you would like to have the password for the member price for this course, go to www.lifelearnerscc.org for information on how you can become a member.


Odd Fellows Hall (View)
520 Dana Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
United States


Education > Classes

Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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