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The Operas of Mozart

Examine the operatic masterpieces of one of the greatest composers in history in this course by acclaimed musicologist and professor Robert Greenberg.
Operas of Mozart is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 58.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from When you buy the DVD's, unfortunately you do not also get online streaming included. I feel I was tricked, as every other course for which I purchased the DVD's included streaming also.
Date published: 2024-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Course! Professor Greenberg instills an appreciation of opera for unfamiliar audiences with his musical analysis, explanation of opera as theater, and background on its historical context. What made this series particularly enjoyable was Professor Greenberg’s humor – which took the edge off the melodrama and occasional vapidity of the libretti themselves. One surprise with the course was the disconnect between the beauty of the music and the weakness of the texts themselves. The Magic Flute is moronic pseudo-intellectual Masonic pablum, while Cosi Fan Tutte reveals an impoverished understanding of human relationships. Sobering that the musical genius bought into this dreck…
Date published: 2023-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Bob Just Plain Rocks This course is a gross overview of a selection of Mozart's Operas. It appears to a non-expert such as me to be well curated, selecting the best known and most representative of Mozart's canon along with his early, formative efforts. This lesson plan helped me understand Mozart's development and to understand why some previously inexplicable choices stayed in the operas. Dr. Greenberg uses a lot of humor, and re-imagines scenes and dialog in current vernacular, which, often, helps drive home his points about the accessibility of the work. Maybe he goes a little overboard from time to time, but he really is a funny, engaging lecturer who keeps one engaged. In all, this is well worth its cost, and will be re-listenable many times over the years.
Date published: 2022-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great features We have only gotten through the first few disks, but we are loving them.
Date published: 2022-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, But With Unusual Emphases This is a pretty good course. I would object only to the very long time spent on The Magic Flute and the very short (or nonexistent) time spent on Don Giovanni and the many other operas of this composer.
Date published: 2022-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greenberg Prof. Greenberg is a master in guiding a layman’s understanding.
Date published: 2021-09-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wolfgang in the Borscht Belt Although I have taught music history, accompanied many operatic singers, and even played a bit part in a local production of Magic Flute, I really didn’t know much about Mozart’s operas. I figured that one of my favorite TGC profs, Dr. Robert Greenberg, might be just the guy to remedy that situation. In some ways, he was. The course contained plenty of material on Mozart’s life, his collaborators, the genesis of these works, and their reception. But unfortunately, his treatment of the operas themselves was terribly unbalanced, devoting 15 of the 24 lectures to just two of the operas, and short-changing the rest (ignoring two completely, which he apologizes for at the end). These longer treatments (of Cosi fan tutte and The Magic Flute) consist of some useful background material, but mostly Greenberg’s own “acting out” of each scene before we’re finally allowed to hear it. And “act out” he does. Any fan of Greenberg knows that he is a comedian at heart, and loves to put humorous asides in his lectures. But he outdid himself here, especially on the eight 50-minute lectures devoted to The Magic Flute. He goes full Borscht Belt in his rendition of the dialog, sounding more like a second-tier 60s stand-up comic than a music professor. (“Try the veal!” I kept waiting for him to add.) How many times can we hear him refer to the main character as “young dude,” along with many other contemporary speech clichés? (A couple of times he goes off the rails in his “translation” and apologizes, saying, “Well that’s not what she said, but wouldn’t you like it if she had?”) This opera takes about 2.5 hours in an average performance, yet Greenberg turns it into a 400-minute slog in which he makes us listen to his cornball version of a scene before playing the actual recording. For most students, an hour of preparatory lecture, followed by an uninterrupted viewing of the opera (with captions of course), would have been a far more meaningful and enriching experience. As much as I have enjoyed Prof. Greenberg in the past, I feel that he let himself get carried away in this survey of Mozart’s operas, to the detriment of the learning experience.
Date published: 2021-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It comes alive! I'm just into the 5th session on Cosi Fan Tutte--first of all, I knew Mozart's music would be a joy to listen to. The added bonus is watching Robert Greenberg acting out the characters' parts and the feelings behind their words.
Date published: 2020-06-04
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Overview

Mozart pushed the genre of opera to the point of comprehensive reinvention in his brief life

About

Robert Greenberg

For thousands of years cultures have celebrated themselves through their music. Let us always be willing and able to join that celebration by listening as carefully as we can to what, through music, we have to say to one another.

INSTITUTION

San Francisco Performances

Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions-which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles-performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands.

He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and the Chicago Symphony. For The Great Courses, he has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres.

Professor Greenberg is a Steinway Artist. His many other honors include three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress. He has been profiled in various major publications, including The Wall Street Journal; Inc. magazine; and the London Times.

You can find more music content from Robert Greenberg on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/RobertGreenbergMusic.

By This Professor

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1789

01: 1789

In his early years in Vienna (1781-85), Mozart enjoyed considerable success as a composer and performer. By 1785 he was among the best-paid musicians in Europe and he and his wife Constanze lived high and well.

49 min

02: "Così fan tutte," Part One

In his early years in Vienna (1781-85), Mozart enjoyed considerable success as a composer and performer. By 1785 he was among the best-paid musicians in Europe and he and his wife Constanze lived high and well.

45 min

03: "Così fan tutte," Part Two

From 1786 on, however, his income began to drop. There were fewer commissions, fewer opportunities for performing, and less demand for his music. He had fallen out of favor with Viennese aristocrats due to the pointed satire of "The Marriage of Figaro" of 1786, and war with the Ottoman Empire forced austerity measures in Vienna.

45 min

04: "Così fan tutte," Part Three

From 1786 on, however, his income began to drop. There were fewer commissions, fewer opportunities for performing, and less demand for his music. He had fallen out of favor with Viennese aristocrats due to the pointed satire of "The Marriage of Figaro" of 1786, and war with the Ottoman Empire forced austerity measures in Vienna.

45 min

05: "Così fan tutte," Part Four

In 1789, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte began work on "Così fan tutte" (All Women Behave Like This) - a project that Imperial court composer Antonio Salieri had rejected due to the libretto's scandalous theme of sexual infidelity. By then, both Wolfgang and Constanze had been coping with illness, financial anxieties, family tragedy, and distrust and strife in their marriage.

43 min

06: "Così fan tutte," Part Five

In 1789, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte began work on "Così fan tutte" (All Women Behave Like This) - a project that Imperial court composer Antonio Salieri had rejected due to the libretto's scandalous theme of sexual infidelity. By then, both Wolfgang and Constanze had been coping with illness, financial anxieties, family tragedy, and distrust and strife in their marriage.

44 min

07: "Così fan tutte," Part Six

Was Mozart drawn to a work on the difficulties in relations between the sexes because it mirrored his personal life? The breathtaking virtuosity with which he uses music to show character, explore feelings, and move dramatic action speaks for itself. "Così" also marked the last of the three superb operas on which Mozart worked with gifted collaborator Da Ponte.

46 min

08: "Così fan tutte," Part Seven

Was Mozart drawn to a work on the difficulties in relations between the sexes because it mirrored his personal life? The breathtaking virtuosity with which he uses music to show character, explore feelings, and move dramatic action speaks for itself. "Così" also marked the last of the three superb operas on which Mozart worked with gifted collaborator Da Ponte.

45 min
The First Works

09: The First Works

Mozart had a life-long love of opera, having written his first operalike composition at age 10. By age 11 he composed the music for his first opera, "Apollo et Hyacinthus". In 1768 Emperor Joseph II commissioned him to write "La finta semplice"(The Pretended Simpleton); after that, he wrote "Bastien und Bastienne", a charming rustic singspiel - his first thoroughly "Mozartean" work for the operatic stage. These three early and very different operas reflect Mozart's ability to absorb and synthesize the myriad musical influences to which he was exposed on his trips across Europe.

46 min
The Italian Apprenticeship

10: The Italian Apprenticeship

In Mozart's day the aristocracy favored a type of opera called "heroic" or "serious" opera (opera seria). Between 1769 and 1773, Mozart and his father took three trips to Italy, which produced three "serious" operas: "Mitridate, rè di Ponte" (1770), "Ascanio in Alba" (1771), and "Lucio Silla" (1772). Each one reflects Mozart's development as a composer and dramatist, and Mozart and his father's desire to curry favor with the Italian aristocracy.

47 min

11: "The Professional," Part One

By age 16, Mozart was a full-fledged opera composer whose works ranked with the very best operas of his day. Between "Lucio Silla" (1772) and "Idomeneo" (1781), Mozart continued to develop his skills. These years included the production of the comic opera, "La finta giardiniera" (The Pretended Garden Maid, 1775), which despite its inferior libretto signaled to Mozart's contemporaries his emergence as a composer with superior talent.

47 min

12: "The Professional," Part Two

For four years after "Il rè pastore" (1775) Mozart received no commissions to write operas. Finally in 1780, Mozart received a commission from Munich to write the opera seria "Idomeneo, rè di Creta," based on a Homeric myth. This opera, too radical to enjoy popularity in Mozart's day, is now recognized as the greatest heroic opera.

48 min
Vienna and

13: Vienna and "Abduction"

In 1781, Mozart was dismissed from the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg. He became a freelance composer in a society where those who wrote music professionally were treated as artisans in the service of aristocrats. His musical genius, however, quickly found an appreciative audience in Vienna, where he was invited to write an opera for the new Imperial German Theater. The result was "The Abduction from the Harem" of 1782.

45 min
Salieri, Da Ponte and

14: Salieri, Da Ponte and "The Marriage of Figaro"

In his first years in Vienna, Mozart enjoyed success as both a performer and composer. But breaking into the charmed circle of favored opera composers was no easy thing. After "The Abduction," Mozart did not complete and produce another opera until 1786 - "The Marriage of Figaro'", which marks Mozart's mastery of the genre.

47 min

15: "Don Giovanni," Part One

Mozart was invited to compose an opera for production in Bohemia in 1787. Again Mozart collaborated with Da Ponte, and "Don Giovanni" was the result. Da Ponte's libretto recounts the ancient morality tale of Don Juan, whose lack of conscience proves fatal to his life and his soul. "Don Giovanni" was praised at its premiere in Prague but criticized in Vienna a year later.

46 min

16: "Don Giovanni," Part Two

In Lecture 16 we reach the Act II finale of "Don Giovanni." We hear how Mozart has mastered an array of compositional and dramatic challenges, imbuing his music with momentum and dramatic interaction, while using the orchestra to knit together and give context to the vocal parts. The second act finale is an amazing display of musical, dramatic, and psychological mastery.

46 min
Mozart, Masonry and

17: Mozart, Masonry and "The Magic Flute"

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

45 min

18: "The Magic Flute," Part Two

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

44 min

19: "The Magic Flute," Part Three

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

45 min

20: "The Magic Flute," Part Four

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

47 min

21: "The Magic Flute," Part Five

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

44 min

22: "The Magic Flute," Part Six

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

46 min

23: "The Magic Flute," Part Seven

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

45 min

24: "The Magic Flute," Part Eight

"The Magic Flute" (1791) quickly proved itself to be one of the most successful operas ever written. Inspired by Oriental fairy tales and imbued with Masonic lore and imagery, it is a love story, a feminist tract, and a test-and-quest coming-of-age tale. Whatever weaknesses exist in the libretto are utterly transcended by Mozart's musical genius. Ironically, with money finally coming in, Mozart died just three weeks after "The Magic Flute" debut.

48 min

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