Course Description
Counts as a Music Genre course for the Language of Music Certificate.
In 19th-century Paris a new form of opera was born: “grand opera.” Departing from the ease and delicacy of bel canto style, grand opera filled the stage with huge casts, dazzling sets and costumes, sweeping historical plots, and monumental orchestras. This course will examine the development of grand opera in Paris and beyond. Operas to be considered include famous examples of the genre, such as Verdi’s Aida, as well as works from important grand opera composers, including Meyerbeer, Saint-Saëns, and Massenet. Works will be critically analyzed using DVDs, CDs, and piano illustrations.

Printable Syllabus (Microsoft Word). 

Week 1

Ÿ Aida (1871)

Ÿ Origins of grand opera

Week 2

Ÿ Rossini: William Tell (1829)

Ÿ Halevy: La Juive (1835)

Ÿ Meyerbeer: Les Hugenots (1836)

Week 3

Ÿ Wagner: Rienzi (1842)

Ÿ Glinka: Ruslan and Lyudmilla (1842)

Ÿ Verdi: Jerusalem (1847)

Week 4

Ÿ Berlioz: Les Troyens (1863)

Ÿ Meyerbeer: L’Africaine (1865)

Week 5

Ÿ Verdi: Don Carlos (1867)

Ÿ Gounod: Faust (1869)

Week 6

Ÿ Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (1874)

Ÿ Ponichielli: La Gioconda (1874)

Week 7

Ÿ Saint-Saens: Samson and Dalila (1877)

Ÿ Borodin: Prince Igor (1890)

Week 8

Ÿ Massenet: Thais (1893)

Ÿ Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko (1898)


  • Operas of Verdi. 3 Volumes.

    by Julian Budden

  • A Song of Love and Death: The Meaning of Opera (Graywolf Rediscovery Series)

    by Peter Conrad

  • The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera (Cambridge Companions to Music)

    Cambridge University Press

  • Opera and its Symbols: The Unity of Words, Music and Staging

    by Robert Donington

  • Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen!: Intermission Scripts from the Met Broadcasts

    by Boris Goldovsky

  • Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera

    by Philip Gossett

  • A Short History of Opera, Fourth Edition

    by Donald Jay; Williams, Hermine Weigel Grout

  • Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music

    by Robert W. Gutman

  • The New Kobbe's Complete Opera Book

    by Earl Harewood

  • Famous Mozart Operas; an Analytical Guide for the Opera-Goer and Armchair Listener

    by spike hughes

  • The Keys to French Opera in the Nineteenth Century

    by Hervé Lacombe

  • Opera: The Extravagant Art

    by Herbert Lindenberger

  • The Lyric Opera Companion: The History, Lore, and Stories of the Worlds Greatest Operas

    by Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement

    by Simon Morrison

  • Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera

    by Fred Plotkin

  • Verdi

    by Joseph Wechsberg

  • Opera: A History in Documents

    by Piero Weiss