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Opera: The Cinema of the Nineteenth Century

In nineteenth century western Europe, opera was comparable to the American Cinema of the 1930s and 40s. It provided social commentary, reflected the impact of historical events, and established popular fashion, dance, and musical styles.
This course will examine four operas that foreshadowed the coming of cinema and one that began as a film: Der Freischütz, Faust, Rigoletto, La Boheme and Street Scene. We will compare operatic to cinematic techniques, and discuss how these works give us insight into the styles and mores of nineteenth century and predict what will come in the early twentieth century in the United States. Scores, Libretti, and videos will be provided.

Don Rierson served as Opera Director in the JMU School of Music for eighteen years. He holds Master's and Doctoral degrees from the Florida State University, and assisted on productions in Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Geneva, Switzerland. Over the last five years, Dr. Rierson has produced mainstage versions of Gounod's Faust, Heggie's Dead Man Walking (with advisement from the composer and Helen Prejean), Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, and Bernstein's Candide. He has also worked on production teams at Indianapolis Opera, Central City Opera, and The Spoleto Festival; and directed "The Bear" and "The
Medium" for Long Leaf Opera at UNC-Chapel Hill. He received the JMU Emeriti Award for Excellence in the Arts and was invited by the Center for Contemporary Opera to prepare and present Critics, a chamber opera (with Libretto by Patti Marx), at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

Please contact our office regarding availability of this course: