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Opera & Race, Selected Topics (335-0-1)


Jesse Rosenberg

Meeting Info

RCMA 1-164: Mon, Wed, 11:00AM - 12:20PM

Overview of class

This course will examine the role of race in a select group of operas from the 18th C through the present. The course will be articulated in three principal categories:

1) the dramatic and musical depiction of non-Europeans in works such as Rameau's Les Indes Galantes, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Verdi's Il Corsaro, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, Aida, and Otello, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, and Turandot

2) racial issues relating to performance, not only with regard to works such as those listed above, but to the operatic repertoire in general, such as the use of makeup (race as a 'costume') and non-traditional or 'colorblind' casting

3) operas on racial themes by non-European creators such as William Grant Still, Shirley Graham, and Langston Hughes.

Students are encouraged to explore other examples on their own. They will read a variety of publications which address these issues, and to attend carefully to the recordings, videos, scores, and librettos in question. Students are expected to complete several written assignments and to contribute actively to class discussion. In place of a final examination, students will complete an independent research paper, and will make presentations to the class on the subject their papers.

Registration Requirements

This course is intended for registered students in the Bienen School of Music who have completed the 200-level music courses offered by the Musicology faculty (Music 213, Music 214, Music 215, and Music 216), students from other units of the university with some musical background and a strong interest in the topic are also welcome to register after consulting with the Instructor.

Learning Objectives

Students are expected to grasp the complexities involved in the interaction between race and opera across an extended period of musical history.

Class Materials (Required)

Materials will be made available through the course Canvas website. Other materials are available online or in the Music Library.

Class Attributes

Literature & Fine Arts Distro Area