Dennis Davies-Wilson will introduce students to the world of opera through the study of the operas presented during the 2019 Santa Fe Opera season. Photo by Nancy Coombs/UNM-LA
UNM-Los Alamos will offer “Introduction to Opera” on Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. begginning June 10. For those who are curious about opera, or who wish to understand the allure of the world-famous Santa Fe Opera, this is the perfect learning opportunity. Over the course of six weeks, instructor Mr. Dennis-Davies Wilson will introduce students to the foundations of opera and provide an overview of the operas offered this summer at the Santa Fe Opera during their 63rd season.
Davies-Wilson, who holds a Master’s degree in Music, is an opera aficionado who began teaching the class in 1999. During the first session he will discuss opera periods, history, styles and characteristics of opera, such as voice types, what happens behind the scenes and the production hierarchy. After that, each week he will focus on one opera, sharing historical background about the composer and the opera, highlighting musical aspects and showing video clips within the context of the discussion.
The class will study:
- Giacomo Puccini’s classic La Bohème
- Georges Bizet’s exotic Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers)
- Mozart’s romantic comedy Così fan tutte
- Leoš Janáček’s drama Jenůfa
- Poul Ruders’ fairytale opera The Thirteenth Child
Students may register for Introduction to Opera for between 1-3 academic credits or they may choose to audit the course. Individuals over 65 may take the class for $5 per credit hour if there is still space available on the first day of class. For assistance with registration, call 505.662.5919.
UNM-LA Intro to Opera instructor Dennis-Davies Wilson has provided notes about the opera’s the class will study.
La Bohème: Said to be Puccini’s most popular opera, La Bohème epitomizes the human experiences of love, passion, struggle, and loss through the lives of six friends trying to freelance their way in the world as bohemian “starving artists.” Puccini’s evocative music makes every emotion feel real in this story of love and tragic loss.
The Pearl Fishers: Bizet’s flair for sumptuous melodies and pleasing harmonies shimmers in this exotic tale of two close friends, Zurga and Nadir, and their rivaled love for Leila, a high priestess. Committed to their friendship, the two men vow never to see her again. That vow is tested when Leila unexpectedly arrives in their village of Ceylon to protect and ensure the success of the pearl diving season. Will friendship win out a second time?
Così fan tutte: Considered to be the most musically coherent of all of Mozart’s operas, Così fan tutte, which rougly translates to “All Women are Like That,” is a romantic comedy of two engaged couples who have to work through the complexities of love, commitment, separation, attraction, and temptation. A cynical old philosopher, Don Alfonso, sets out to prove to the two men that “all women are like that” when he fabricates a situation that will test the commitment of the two female counterparts. The music in this opera is among the best of the best produced by Mozart, and it has become a jumping-off point for the study of Mozart’s other operas.
Jenůfa: Jenůfa is the third of nine operas by twentieth-century Czech composer, Leoš Janáček. Accusation and manipulation are the crosses that Jenůfa must bear in this tale of murder and deception. Will she remain a victim or become the victor?
The Thirteenth Child: Inspired by the fairytale, “The Twelve Brothers” by the Brothers Grimm, The Thirteenth Child, by contemporary composer Poul Ruder, focuses on the trials and tribulations of Princess Lyra in her quest to find her twelve brothers who were banished by their father, the King. This opera is a world premiere.
For further information on this or other UNM-LA summer semester classes, visit losalamos.unm.edu or call 505.662.5919.
UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. More information about UNM-LA is available at losalamos.unm.edu.