Italian Opera 101

Thomas Cimarusti

Monday, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

11/27/2017- 12/18/2017

3/5/2018- 3/26/2018

4 weeks: $150 members/$188 non-members

Following the birth of opera in 17th-century Florence, Italy witnessed an unparalleled obsession with musical drama for the next three hundred years. Composers such as Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giacomo Puccini mastered the genre with works such as The Barber of Seville, Norma, La Traviata, and Madame Butterfly, respectively. This course will trace the evolution of Italian opera from its beginnings in Florence through the 19th century, highlighting specific excerpts that represent the masterpieces of the Italian opera tradition.

Sessions will consist of lecture, power point presentations, and listening/video examples. The instructor will encourage class discussion and engage attendees with various listening activities.


Paper and pencil for note taking (optional for students).

Nov 27 – Defining opera; Predecessors to Opera; the Florentine Camerata; Claudio Monteverdi and the first operatic masterpiece, Orfeo; Opera in the Baroque; Da Capo Aria form; George F. Handel (Giulio Cesare), Alessandro Scarlatti (La Griselda); opera seria; the rise of the Italian castrato

Dec 4 – Opera in the Classic Period; the Enlightenment; opera buffa; the operatic ensemble; musical characterization; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Don Giovanni)

Dec 11 – Opera in the Romantic Period, Part I: Romanticism; the bel canto style; improvisation, scene structure, Rossini (The Barber of Seville), Bellini (Norma), Verdi (La Traviata)

Dec 18 – Opera in the Romantic Period, Part II; late Verdi (Otello), Puccini (Madame Butterfly, verismo; the end of a tradition.


Dr. Thomas M. Cimarusti is an Associate Professor of Music History at Florida Gulf Coast University. He has lectured at various campuses across the country including Florida State University, Utah Valley University, and Texas Tech University. With research interests in 18th- and 19th-century music, Dr. Cimarusti has presented conference papers on Mozart, Beethoven, Italian opera, and chamber music.