Music 249. Race, Sexuality, and Empire on the Operatic Stage with Prof. Mark Burford.

September 11, 2018

This course will focus on three operas that premiered during what some European historians have called the “Age of Empire”: Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida (1871), Georges Bizet’s Carmen (1875), and Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (1904–07). Set in Egypt, Spain, and Japan, respectively, these works are famous for their scores, which feature some of opera’s best-known music, but also for the complex, romantically doomed, and racially marked women who are the title characters: Aida, the enslaved Ethiopian princess; Carmen, the “gypsy” femme fatale; and Cio-Cio San, the tragic geisha. Students will be introduced to opera as a genre, to late romantic musical aesthetics, to the literary origins of these works, and to relevant scholarship theorizing empire and representations of difference. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Conference.

Prof. Mark Burford is an expert on how composers from Johannes Brahms to Sam Cooke balance aesthetic ideals, individual expression, and cultural representation. He teaches courses in music history, opera, blues, gospel, and pop. He earned a Ph. D from Columbia and is working on a book about black gospel in postwar America.

Tags: Academics, Performing Arts, Courses We’d Love To Take