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WSP 99 — Russia’s Opera Glory: Three Masterpieces

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Saturday
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Feb 23
Drop Deadline: Feb 16
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $210
Instructor(s): Speight Jenkins
Status: Open
Please Note: Class schedule: Saturday, February 23, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Feb 23
1 day
Drop By
Feb 16
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Speight Jenkins
Please Note: Class schedule: Saturday, February 23, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Boris Godunov, Eugene Onegin, and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, three very grand operas, have established the popularity and significance of Russian opera in the United States. Non-Russian artists’ somewhat recent fluency in singing Russian and the theatrical intensity of these three operas have demonstrated the real power of Russian opera to American audiences.

All three operas demand large casts and involve acting as well as singing, big choruses, and excellent musicians. This course will discuss the location of each opera within the composer’s body of work. Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, which used to be presented in the United States in either Italian or English, offers more grandeur and rough intensity in its original Russian language; the different versions will be contrasted.Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in its original language has a distinctly Russian character and is more romantic and closer to the original Pushkin. Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which almost cost the composer his freedom if not his life because of Stalin’s dislike of it, is an intense modern realization of a woman close to her Shakespearean namesake and equally terrifying. Because of its complexity, which will be illustrated, this opera can be the most powerful of the three.

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.