Rossini to Puccini: 100 Years of Italian Opera

Italian opera was born about 1600. Non-Italian composers such as Handel, Gluck and Mozart wrote operas in Italian but it was the works by native Italian composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries that made Italian opera world famous, works by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini. Their operas are amongst the most famous ever written and today are performed in opera houses across the world. Some plots are comic, such as The Barber of Seville, some are tragic such as La Traviata. All are very engaging, the music is beautiful and we, the listeners and viewers, are transported to other worlds.


  • Face-to-Face


  • A brief history of Italian opera. Life stories and works of all composers mentioned below.
  • The following operas will be discussed and illustrated by video.
  • Rossini: Il barbiere di siviglia
  • Bellini: Norma, La sonambula
  • Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia
  • Verdi: Rigoletto, La Traviata, Il Trovatore
  • Leoncavallo: Pagliacci
  • Puccini: La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have a knowledge of the history of Italian opera.
  2. Recount the story of at least three operas.
  3. Name four opera singers and their roles.

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