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22 Jan 2009

Online Course for The Marriage of Figaro

by Paula Fowler

I have signed up for several online opera courses from OPERA America over the past few years, and am amazed and glad that OPERA America offers them to Utah Opera free of charge whenever one of our productions matches up with one of their course offerings. Many of our patrons took a 4-week e-mail course on Rossini’s Cinderella last season, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly this past October. And now OPERA America, the umbrella organization for all American opera companies, is offering us all another FREE 4-week course, this time about Mozart’s classic The Marriage of Figaro.

The course consists of an email message once a week for four weeks running that links you to the opera course website. There’s a button on the screen for each week’s lesson as it becomes available. You can always go back and check a previous week’s lesson. The lessons consist of short articles about the opera: the time period in which it was produced, the biographies of the librettist and composer—especially while writing the opera, the public and critical response to the opera, the musical style of the opera, the ‘big hits’ to listen for….There are musical clips you can listen to, as well as interviews with current artists involved in productions of the piece. Utah Opera’s Figaro for this production, Ryan McKinny, and our conductor, Christopher Larkin, are both interviewed as part of the course. Pictures of past productions are featured, and the teacher for the course can be emailed with comments and questions.

It’s the kind of thing you can just skim through to glean details you might not already have known, or that other kind of thing, when you have time to take an hour to read the text for each lesson thoroughly and listen to all the musical clips and interviews. I’ve used the courses both ways, and have found any effort well-rewarded when I go to the theatre with informed expectation and anticipation to experience the opera production my company is offering.

Patrons who signed up for Madame Butterfly earlier this season are already signed up for the course on The Marriage of Figaro. If you would like to join the course, simply comment on this blog post (make sure to include your email address in the ’email’ field), and I’ll get you on the list—your name and preferred e-mail address is all I need.  This course begins on Feb 17. Sign up by Friday, February 13th, to receive the first mailing on time.

While I’m blogging on this topic, I might as well mention that you can extend your learning even further by taking advantage of our “Toast to Vienna” Festival—a month-long outpouring of events (opera and symphony performances, Vienna Boys’ Choir concert, films, dance and cuisine lessons, lectures) all about the city of Vienna.  Our opera production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is at the center of this festival.