This list relates to the 2016-17 which ended on 31/07/2017
This list has a newer version. Click here to view
This list has been archived
  1. See also the module resource pack that can be purchased via the online shop - see MMS for details.


    The two longest source texts for this module are Shakespeare's Macbeth and Prosper Mérimée's Carmen.  Please get copies of these early in the term so you have time to read them! Recommended for purchase.

    Each week:

    • make sure you read the source text and libretto
    • make sure you view the opera (class screenings as advertised, additional resources available as shown below)
    • use this reading list to add in secondary reading for essays and exam preparation

    Reading below is organised by: [general online resources] [core resources for each week] [additional resources for each work]


    See MMS for additional material - particularly, links to online libretto translations.

  2. Essential Online Reference Resources and Databases 5 items
    1. Opera in Video (electronic bibliographic database)

      Website Essential Streaming of full operas (and documentaries etc.) with searchable subtitles - use your University username and Password on campus, off-campus and with mobile devices. nb 2017 Jan 28th - not working smoothly. See MMS / Contents for alternative links.

  3. Week 1: Introductory Reading 6 items
    1. Key Question: what is 'opera'?

    2. A history of opera: the last four hundred years - Carolyn Abbate, Roger Parker 2012

      Book Essential Read the general introduction, pp.1-35

    3. Opera - Cannon, Robert 2012 (electronic book)

      Book Optional

    4. The Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies - Nicholas Till 2012

      Book Essential Read Laurel E. Zeiss, 'The Dramaturgy of Opera', pp.179-201

    5. The Cambridge companion to opera studies 2012 (electronic book)

      Book  Essential reading Zeiss, 'The Dramaturgy of Opera', pp.179-201

  4. Week 2: Dido and Aeneas 9 items
    1. Key questions: 

      a: how did music enhance / illustrate the meaning of words in Baroque opera?

      b: how do you adapt an epic into an opera?

    2. The Aeneid - Robert Fagles, Virgil 2007

      Book Essential Week 2 source text - Book 4. See also module resource pack.

    3. The Aeneid - David West (trans.), Virgil 2003

      Book Optional

    4. Dido and Aeneas: an opera - Henry Purcell, Nahum Tate, Margaret Laurie, Thurston Dart 1989

      Book  Musical Score

    5. Dido and Aeneas: vocal score - Purcell, Henry 1989

      Book  Musical Score

    6. Dido and Aeneas - Henry Purcell, Nahum Tate 2009 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential DVD: Week 2 set work

    7. Henry Purcell and the London stage - Price, Curtis Alexander 1984

      Book Recommended Read Chapter 5, pp.225-261

    8. The Renaissance epic and the oral past - Anthony Welch c2012 (electronic book)

      Book  Chapter 5 'Epic Opera' discusses operatic adaptations of Virgil, including 'Dido and Aeneas'

  5. Week 3: Acis and Galatea 7 items
    1. Key questions:

      a: how / do the musical concepts of recitative, aria and ensemble deliver an operatic plot?

      b: what kind of a story is this? Tragic? Pastoral? Comic? Masque?

    2. Metamorphoses - John Dryden, Garth Tissol, Ovid 1998

      Book Essential Essential text for week 3 - see digital scan.

    3. Acis and Galatea: a serenata for soprano, 2 tenors & bass soli, SATB & orchestra - George Frideric Handel, Joseph Barnby, John Gay, Watkins Shaw 2000

      Book  Musical Score

    4. Acis and Galatea - George Frideric Handel, Jonathan Haswell (dir.) 2010 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential DVD: Week 3 set work

    5. The Cambridge companion to eighteenth-century opera - Anthony DelDonna, Pierpaolo Polzonetti 2011 (electronic book)

      Book  Read James Webster, 'Aria as Drama', pp.24-49

  6. Week 4: The Marriage of Figaro 8 items
    1. Key questions:

      a: how can music convey comedy?

      b: how can music help in character representation?

    2. The barber of Seville ; and: The marriage of Figaro - Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, John Wood (trans.) 1976

      Book Essential See also module resource pack - source text week 4

    3. ENO Opera Guide 17 to Le nozze di Figaro [The marriage of Figaro] - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto Lorenzo Da Ponte, ed. Nicholas John, trans. Edward J. Dent 2011

      Book  Opera - see libretto translation

    4. The marriage of Figaro: vocal score - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 1951

      Book  Musical Score

    5. Le nozze di Figaro - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Derek Bailey (dir.) 1996 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential DVD Week 4

    6. Constructing Le Nozze di Figaro

      Journal  Useful for understanding Act 2 Finale

    7. Understanding Italian opera - Tim Carter, Dawson Books 2015 (electronic book)

      Book  optional: see chapter 4 on "Marriage of Figaro"

  7. Week 5: Consolidation (Voices and Orchestra) 6 items
    1. Key questions:now that you have heard some operas, to consolidate learning and help you with further viewings and listenings, please take time to check the following.

      a) do you understand the difference between sopranos, mezzos, contraltos, tenors, baritones and basses, and how different voice types can contribute to operatic character representation?

      b) do you understand the difference between orchestras in the baroque, classical, romantic and modern periods, and how these affect operatic performance?

      c) can you identify some common musical instruments and think about how their particular sounds affect character and plot in opera?

    2. A History of Singing - John Potter, Neil Sorrell 2012 (electronic book)


    3. Dynamics of the singing voice - Meribeth Bunch Dayme 2009 (electronic book)


  8. Week 6-7: Macbeth 10 items
    1. Key questions: 

      a) the source text for this opera was already a stage work - yet the opera is substantially different.  How?  Why? Consider how the following factors might have affected this transformation: Romanticism; Nationalism; Gender

      b) what factors may affect the translation of a source text to a libretto in another language?

    2. The tragedy of Macbeth - William Shakespeare, ed. Nicholas Brooke 1990


    3. Macbeth - William Shakespeare, ed. Kenneth Muir 1972


    4. Macbeth: opera in four acts - Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei, trans. Walter Ducloux 1969


    5. Macbeth - William Shakespeare, ed. A. R. Braunmuller 2008


    6. Macbeth - William Shakespeare, ed. G. K. Hunter 1967


    7. Macbeth - Phyllida Lloyd (dir.), Giuseppe Verdi 2012 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential DVD: Week 6 set work

    8. ENO Opera Guide no. 41 : Macbeth: Giuseppe Verdi - Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Maria Piave, Andrea Verdi, trans. Jeremy Sams 1990

      Book Essential See Giorgio Melchoiri, 'Macbeth: Shakespeare to Verdi', pp.7-12

    9. Verdi's Macbeth: a sourcebook - David Rosen, Andrew Porter 1984

      Book Essential

  9. Week 7-8: Carmen 10 items
    1. Key question:

      how does this opera work with stereotypical ideas about race and gender?

    2. Carmen and other stories - Mřimě, Prosper, Jotcham, N. 1998

      Book Essential Core text week 7

    3. Carmen - Georges Bizet, Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, trans. Nell and John Moody 2011


    4. Carmen - Brian Large, Georges Bizet, Prosper Mérimée, Agnes Baltsa 1987 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential Viewing session version. Reference section access - viewable in library.

    5. Carmen - Georges Bizet, Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy, dir. Francesco Rosi 1999 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Optional Week 7: alternative version

    6. Carmen - dir. Carlos Saura 200 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Optional Week 7: alternative version

    7. Realism in nineteenth-century music - Carl Dahlhaus 1985

      Book Recommended

    8. Georges Bizet: Carmen - Susan McClary 1992

      Book  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

  10. Week 9-10: Wozzeck 8 items
    1. Key question:

      a) how does musical form assist dramatic meaning in this opera?

      b) how / can an opera help us to see through somebody else's eyes?

    2. Danton's death ; Leonce and Lena ; Woyzeck - Büchner, Georg, Price, Victor 1998

      Book Essential Week 9: source text

    3. Woyzeck - John Guthrie 1993

      Book  Week 9: source text (alternative version)

    4. Wozzeck: an opera in three acts and fifteen scenes - Alban Berg 2007 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential Week 9: DVD set work

    5. Wozzeck: Oper in 3 Akten (15 Szenen), op. 7 (1914, 1921) - Alban Berg, [based on the play by] Georg Büchner 2005 [1931]

      Book Optional Musical Score

    6. Wozzeck - Alban Berg, ed. Nicholas John, translated by Eric Blackall, Vida Harford 2011

      Book Recommended

    7. Alban Berg: Wozzeck - Jarman, Douglas 1989

      Book Recommended Opera Guide: see Douglas Jarman, 'Musical Background and composition', pp.16-24

  11. Week 10-11: Peter Grimes 10 items
    1. Key question:

      can 20th century opera be both 'modern' and yet still accessible? (how did this opera 'modernise' the source text?)

    2. The borough - George Crabbe 2007

      Book Suggested for student purchase Week 10: Source text. See also module resource pack for letter 22.

    3. Peter Grimes: an opera in three acts and a prologue derived from the poem of George Crabbe : op.33 - Benjamin Britten, George Crabbe, Montagu Slater, Erwin Stein 1945

      Book  Week 10: Musical Score

    4. Peter Grimes - Benjamin Britten, Montagu Slater, Edward Sackville-West, E. M. Forster 1945


    5. Peter Grimes - Barrie Gavin (dir.), Tim Albery (dir.), Benjamin Britten 2013 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Essential Week 10: DVD

    6. Peter Grimes: on Aldeburgh Beach - Benjamin Britten, Margaret Williams (dir.) 2013 (dvd)

      Audio-visual document Recommended Week 10: alternative DVD, open air production

    7. Music and sexuality in Britten: selected essays - Brett, Philip 2006 (electronic book)

      Book Recommended See especially chapter 1-2, pp.11-53

  12. General works 17 items
    1. Viva la libertà!: politics in opera - Arblaster, Anthony 1992


    2. Opera - Cannon, Robert 2012


    3. The Cambridge companion to grand opera - Charlton, David 2011 (electronic book)


    4. The Cambridge companion to twentieth-century opera - Mervyn Cooke 2005

      Book  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

    5. Essays on opera - Dean, Winton 1990


    6. Reading opera - Groos, Arthur, Parker, Roger 1988


    7. Opera as drama - Kerman, Joseph 2005


    8. Believing in opera - Sutcliffe, Tom 1998


  13. Secondary reading on specific composers/ operas 25 items
    1. Week 2: Purcell 1 item
      1. Purcell - Hutchings, Arthur 1982


    2. Week 3: Handel / Ovid 6 items
      1. What is pastoral? - Paul J. Alpers 1996 (electronic book)

        Book  This is relevant to Acis and Galatea

      2. Opera and the Enlightenment - Thomas Bauman, Marita P. McClymonds 2006

        Book  Part IV : essay on Handel

      3. The Cambridge companion to Handel - Donald Burrows 1997

        Book  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

      4. Handel - Christopher Hogwood 2007


    3. Week 4: Mozart 4 items
      1. Music and culture in eighteenth-century Europe: a source book - Enrico Fubini, Bonnie J. Blackburn 1994

        Book  See Chapter 10 on Reform Opera

    4. Week 6-7: Verdi 2 items
      1. Analyzing opera: Verdi and Wagner - Carolyn Abbate, Roger Parker 1989


      2. Verdi in the age of Italian Romanticism - David R. B. Kimbell 1981

        Book  Secondary reading

    5. Week 7-8: Bizet 3 items
      1. Georges Bizet: his life and work - Winton Dean 1965

        Book  Secondary Reading

      2. Georges Bizet: Carmen - McClary, Susan 1992


    6. Week 9-10: Berg 3 items
      1. The Berg companion - Jarman, Douglas 1989


      2. The operas of Alban Berg vol.1 - George Perle c1980-c1985


    7. Week 10-11: Britten / Crabbe 6 items
      1. George Crabbe: a reappraisal - Frank Whitehead 1995


All rights reserved ©