Shakespeare, Opera, and Ballet: Transforming One Art Form into Another

Course Leader(s)
Day of Week: Tuesday
Course Length: 5 weeks
Starting: 10/22/2024
Ending: 12/03/2024
Period of Day: Period 2 In-Person
Time: 11:30 - 1:00
Course Fee: $50

Course Description:

Shakespeare’s plays have been the jumping-off point for filmmakers, novelists, songwriters, composers, artists, and choreographers.  Explore how five of his works have been transformed into other art forms for the theater.  We’ll consider the changes made in creating operas and ballets based on some of his best-known plays.  After an introduction, each week will focus on a single work, and a large part of each class will be watching segments of stellar performances of the operas and ballets on DVDs.  We’ll be looking at Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Balanchine’s choreography; Verdi’s Otello, Macbeth, and Falstaff and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, with MacMillan’s choreography.  No prior knowledge of music, opera, or ballet required.  Summaries of the plays and of the operas and ballets will be provided. This is not primarily a discussion course, but there should be time for some discussion.

Preparation time will be minimal (half an hour or less) to read the provided summaries of the week’s works.

Books and Other Resources:

No required books, summaries of the operas, ballets, and plays will be provided.

Course Leader Bio(s)

Lois Novotny

After completing all course work for a Ph.D in musicology, and when it became apparent that the job market for college teaching (the only work for which the degree was relevant) had completely ceased to exist, I went to law school.  I attend performances of concerts, opera, and ballet in Boston and New York (still have a Met subscription).  On travels to Europe, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing opera in Parma, Palermo, Naples, Rome, Venice, Milan, Prague, Budapest, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, and at many of the great opera houses, including La Scala, La Fenice, and the Maryiinsky and Bolshoi theaters.  I’ve taught several courses at LLAIC on opera and ballet, and (for variation), Jane Austen and food (with Dana Kaplan).