Comparative Literature | Topics in Inter-Arts Studies: Operah and Theater
C655 | 1246 | David M. Hertz

Opera and Theater
This course meets with CMLT C355 and WEUR W605
TR 4-5:15   Ballantine Hall 317

While the focus of this course will be on opera, a quintessentially
European art form, we will compare opera to the nature of theater.
What is the difference between opera and theater? How is music used in
opera to tell a story? How is music used in theater? How is
storytelling used in each form? What is the role of dialogue in each?
How did opera evolve into the large-scale popular art par excellence
of the nineteenth century Europe? Since some say it died out, what
happened to it? Opera is a hybrid art form, chiefly based on the union
of music and drama. However, opera also involves spectacle and
movement (including dance), and the mis-en-scène that can only be
created by utilizing the resources of the visual arts as well.

With this in mind, this course will study a small number of
significant works, analyzing them each both in terms of the culture in
which they were created and the interactions of the arts required for
a full realization of each work. Works to be studied will be selected
from a variety of traditions, all of which have achieved a high
reputation in the history of culture and criticism. Among them are
operas by Mozart, Rossini, Wagner, Verdi, Bizet, Debussy and Benjamin
Britten. Readings will also be taken from selected plays and
theoretical works. Students will be expected to attend the I.U. Opera
Theater at various points throughout the semester (a total of three
different operas), and at least one play. Graduate students will
research theoretical subjects as they apply to our encounter with the
primary works of art.