History of Opera

Weekend course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
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Take an operatic grand tour through Renaissance Italy, Louis XIV’s Versailles, Handel’s London, Mozart’s Vienna, Verdi’s Italy, Wagner’s Germany and Gilded Age America. You will consider opera as the most multimedia of all the arts and trace its global expansion. With a rich historical overview, this course will look towards the future possibilities of operatic performance.

course photo
Portrait of Course Leader Daniel Snowman

Course Leader
Daniel Snowman

Daniel Snowman is a social and cultural historian. Daniel was a Lecturer at the University of Sussex, and went on to work at the BBC. Now a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research (U. of London), his recent books include a study of the cultural impact of the ‘Hitler Emigrés’ and The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera.

It was amazing to learn the historical and political context of the different periods Previous Course Student

Course overview

Daniel Snowman invites us to look at opera from the perspective of the ‘demand’ as well as the ‘supply’, the consumption as well as the production: the opera houses, impresarios, monarchs, money makers, artists and audiences as well as the great works and the people who created them. This magnificent Grand Tour of the mind includes stopovers in Renaissance Italy, Louis XIV’s Versailles, Handel’s London, Mozart’s Vienna, Verdi’s Italy and Wagner’s Germany and Gilded Age America. In the 20th century, opera survived two world wars to become a truly global art form.

The lectures will be richly illustrated, with both images and musical examples, and will touch on a range of compelling historical issues. How widely known would the operas of Handel or Mozart have been during their lifetimes? Why did Mozart remain poor but Verdi became rich? When and why did the prima donna get her fiery reputation? How did a supposedly ‘elite’ art take root in such self-consciously egalitarian societies as the USA and Australia? Does opera have a future – and what exactly do we mean by ‘opera’ anyway?


Further Information

• Refreshments served • Price reductions available for Seniors (60+), jobseekers (ES40 holders) and registered disabled people

Enrol now

Weekend course: History of Opera

12 October 2019 - 13 October 2019

£147.00 - £195.00

Sold out

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)