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MUS 40 — An Introduction to Puccini: The Most Widely Performed Opera Composer Today

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Jul 9—Aug 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 22
Unit: 1
Tuition: $310
Instructor(s): Speight Jenkins
Summer
On-campus
Mondays
7:00—8:50 pm
Date(s)
Jul 9—Aug 6
5 weeks
Drop By
Jul 22
1 Unit
Fees
$310
Instructor(s):
Speight Jenkins
Closed
No opera composer continues to have a grip on the 21st-century American public more than Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924). His almost cinematic style, the reality of his characters, his use of more violence than many other composers, and generally his easy musical approachability have made his the most frequently performed operas in the United States. Though he didn’t invent verismo, a Romantic look at the lives of ordinary people, he did define it, and nine of his eleven operas, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, are regularly performed all over the world. We will explore why and hear great singers who have mastered Puccini’s style.

Verismo
mirrors the kind of action-filled life that Puccini experienced, and it requires a different kind of voice from both earlier 19th-century opera as well as many operas composed after Puccini died. He had very strong ideas about what he wanted to see onstage in his operas, making it very difficult for modern directors to make the kinds of radical, dramatic changes they can make with other composers. In this course, examples will easily illustrate this unique quality in his work. By the end of the course, students will understand why Puccini’s lyricism and sentimentality still delight audiences everywhere.

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.