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Falling in Love With 20th Century Opera -- John Frey
PG&E Energy Education Center
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Falling in Love With 20th Century Opera -- John Frey
Join local opera expert John Frey for another survey of opera, this time of the operas of the 20th Century.

Opera is a world-wide art form with great operas emerging from a variety of countries and traditions dating back to 1600. It is the most comprehensive of all performing arts forms drawing on literature, stage drama, vocal and orchestral music, dance, stagecraft, visual arts and costume.  Modern opera requires a novel way of listening for those familiar with traditional 18th and 19th Century opera.

You will explore four operatic masterworks composed between 1900 and 1935. These include Richard Strauss' romantic Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose - 1911); Alban Berg's expressionistic Wozzeck (1926); Claude Debussy's impressionistic Pelléas et Mélisande (1902); and George Gershwin's popular folk opera Porgy and Bess (1935). The course will familiarize you with the scope of modern opera and emphasize the understanding of their plots, lyrics and musical values.

Number of Course Sessions: 4

Purchasing one ticket entitles you to attend all four sessions of this course.

Der Rosenkavalier
29 July:  Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose) is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The opera has four main characters: the aristocratic Marschallin, her very young lover Count Octavian Rofrano, her coarse cousin Baron Ochs, and Ochs' prospective fiancée Sophie von Faninal, daughter of a rich bourgeois. At the Marschallin's suggestion, Ochs has Octavian act as his Rosenkavalier, and present the ceremonial silver rose to Sophie. But when Octavian meets Sophie, they fall in love on sight. By a comic intrigue, they get rid of Ochs with the help of the Marschallin, who then yields Octavian to the younger woman. Conscious of the difference in age between herself and Octavian, the Marschallin muses in bittersweet fashion over the passing of time, growing old, and men's inconstancy.

5 August: Wozzeck is the first opera by the Austrian composer Alban Berg based on a fragmentary literary work, Woyzeck by Georg Büchner. The opera was first performed in 1925. Since then it has established a solid place for itself in the mainstream operatic tradition. Though its musical style is challenging, the quality of Berg's work (in particular, the characterization of the situation through clearly defined musical techniques) amply repays viewing. The subject matter -  the inevitability of hardship and exploitation for the poor  - is brutal and uncompromising.

Pelléas et Mélisande
12 August: Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. It was first performed at the Opéra-Comique, Paris on 30 April 1902. The French libretto was adapted from the Symbolist play of the same name by Maurice Maeterlinck. It was the only opera Debussy completed and is a landmark in 20th-century music.  The subject of Pelléas is a love triangle set in a vaguely Medieval world. Although Mélisande is married to Golaud, she and Pelléas are secretly in love. The characters rarely seem to understand or be able to articulate their own feelings. The deliberate vagueness of the story is paralleled by the elusiveness of Debussy's music.

Porgy and Bess
19 August: Porgy and Bess is a folk opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and the subsequent play of the same title. All three works deal with African-American life in the fictitious Catfish Row (based on the area of Cabbage Row) in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1920s. Porgy and Bess premiered in New York in the fall of 1935 and featured a cast of classically trained African-American singers - a daring artistic choice at the time. The opera features great songs such as "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," and "It Ain't Necessarily So."

Tuesdays, July 29,  August 5, 12, 19 2014, 1pm-4pm  PG&E Energy Center

If you are a member of LLCC and have a password, be sure to click on "Enter a Password or a Discount Code" to see the member price. Type in the password and click "show available tickets" to see the member price before you select the quantity of tickets.

Please purchase a separate ticket for each person so that we can have a record of all attendees.

Please remember to have Brown Paper Tickets send you a reminder for this course. You can do that before you begin the signup process. Look for the "Remind Me" section at the bottom right of this webpage. Thanks.

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.


PG&E Energy Education Center (View)
6588 Ontario Rd.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
United States


Education > Classes

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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