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Lifelong Learning: New York City

Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore: New York City

Fall 2019 Course: Opera (LLS 190NY)

Meets Thursdays, 6:45–9:15 p.m.
sept. 26 - Nov. 14
1211 Sixth Avenue (at 48th St.), Floor 38, Ropes & Gray

"No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible." - W.H. Auden

With its intense combinations of emotion, music, words, movement, stagecraft, sex, and murder, opera may be the most extravagant of all the performing arts. This course offers a composer's perspective on some of the seminal works of the 17th - 20th centuries. 

Open to anyone curious about the form. No prior knowledge of opera is assumed. The ability to read music is not required. 


We will focus on the following, using audio recordings and supplemental readings:

  • Purcell, Dido and Aeneas
  • Mozart, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute
  • Verdi, Rigoletto and Otello
  • Puccini, Tosca
  • Britten, Peter Grimes

The Professor: 

Thomas Whitman, Swarthmore '82, earned a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory at UPenn. As a Luce Scholar in 1986-87, he studied traditional music and culture in Indonesia, He has taught at Swarthmore since 1990. Tom has composed five operas - most in collaboration with poet Nathalie Anderson of Swarthmore's Department of English Literature. He is now working on his sixth opera.