I was interviewed by Wicked Local about the upcoming Opera 101 classes at Rockport’s Shailin Liu Performance Center. You can read the article here or below.
History of opera: A legacy of influence and change
Opera never involves just standing in one place and singing at the top of your lungs.
“That’s why it’s so viable,” said Elizabeth Seitz, professor of music history at Boston Conservatory, who gives four lectures on the history of the genre, beginning next Wednesday evening, Feb. 11, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.
“It’s infinitely malleable,” she said. “Style, language, social implications—they’re always changing. It has poetry. It has music. It has dance. It’s one of the most universal art forms, and it can be funny, or serious, or a bit of both.”
Seitz’ lecture series comes about in response to the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts, which have brought enthusiastic audiences not only to Rockport, but world-wide, for years now.
“People really wanted to put opera into context, which the Met Opera doesn’t really do,” she said. “I’m going to talk about the beginnings of opera, and trace how it changes over history.
“It’s only four lectures, so I can’t bring it all the way into the 20th century. But I’ll start with the origins, in the Baroque, with Monteverdi. Once we figure out how it starts in Italy, in the second lecture I’ll focus on Handel, who was a German writing Italian operas for English audiences, That will help to show how it came to change with different cultures,” she continued.
“The third lecture skips to the classical period, and focuses on Mozart. I want to talk about how serious social commentary started to work its way into opera, and Mozart, who was writing during the Age of Enlightenment, is the perfect example.
“After that, and because there is so much Verdi and Wagner at the Met, I’m going to talk about theatrical developments, and how, even though they are different, Verdi and Wagner end up in the same place with continuous drama.”
Seitz will bring along singers from Boston Conservatory, students and alumni, to illustrate each lecture’s different style.
“I’m working with our opera department to get the best and the brightest,” she said. “And the singers will be available to speak with everyone as well. I always find that everyone enjoys some interaction with the performers. I think the future of opera is particularly rosy,” Seitz says. “You read all these books about classical music, and everyone has always been bemoaning its demise. This is an art form that’s going to be around for a long time,” she went on.
“Whenever the Met shows a simulcast, 250,000 people see it around the world. And it’s not just the grand operas in the big cities; we have lots of smaller groups now doing chamber music settings, and going into schools to perform. Here in Boston, people say all we have is the Boston Lyric Opera, but there are lots of newer groups too, like Guerilla Opera and the Boston Opera Collaborative.
“There’s a great new crop of singers coming up, and at the conservatory we’re trying hard to teach them entrepreneurial skills, to show them that there are opportunities to bring opera to different types of audiences.”
Elizabeth Seitz presents Opera 101, four lecture/demonstrations on the history of the art form, on Feb. 11 and 18, March 4 and 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Tickets are $25 and $80 for all four, and discounts to Met simulcast subscribers are available by calling 978-546-7391 or visiting www.rockportmusic.org
– See more at: http://beverly.wickedlocal.com/article/20150205/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/150208026#sthash.kEVQjheN.dpuf