What is opera? More to the point, why? We explore what Dr Johnson called this “exotic and irrational entertainment”, from its inception at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to its latest incarnations in the hands of living composers. We’ll discover that it isn’t just about ladies of extravagant dimensions belting out endless arias in a foreign language at maximum volume to their adoring and rich fans. As well as looking at great works by composers such as Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, and Wagner and examining that delicate relationship between words and music, we’ll take works by lesser known composers and talk about opera’s changing position within societies past and present.
(image credit Anthony Shin)