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MUS 199 — Verdi: Opera's Greatest Melodist

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Jan 22—Feb 26
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Feb 4
Unit: 1
Tuition: $305
Instructor(s): Speight Jenkins
Status: Open
Please Note: (No class on February 19)
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 22—Feb 26
5 weeks
Drop By
Feb 4
1 Unit
Speight Jenkins
Please Note: (No class on February 19)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) was once asked how he could create so many unforgettable melodies. He said “My only problem is remembering them long enough to write them down.” The most esteemed composer of Italian opera, Verdi composed twenty-six operas, three of which—Aida, La traviata, and Il trovatore—are among the ten most popular works worldwide, and eleven others that are performed regularly by every major opera company. No other opera composer has so many works in repertory. With so many performed and recorded operas, his growth in expressing the meaning of the words in music is remarkable, as is his maintaining his connection with the opera public. Verdi’s patriotism also figures in: He outsmarted Austrian critics, and his music illustrates his role in Italy’s unification. Upon his death, he was hailed as the most admired Italian of his era.

In this course, we will discuss how Verdi developed his use of every voice type, always moving closer to his goal of a complete artwork. Over five weeks, we will explore Verdi’s operas from his first, Oberto, to his last, Falstaff, illustrating how even a genius can grow and still retain the popular touch.

In addition to teaching this course, Speight Jenkins will host a free public lecture titled “The Slow but Triumphant Path of the African American Opera Singer” on February 13.

Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera, Emeritus

Speight Jenkins led Seattle Opera from 1983 through 2014, producing ninety-two separate operas and traveling extensively in Europe and the United States. In 1981, he became the Metropolitan Opera’s host on the nationally televised Live from the Met broadcasts. He received a JD from Columbia and honorary doctorates from Seattle University, the University of Puget Sound, and the New England Conservatory.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.