An Operatic Journey


Starting at the birth of opera in Italy around 1600, and ending in 'fin-de-siècle' Paris at the turn of the 20th century, this course will journey through operatic musical and social history, pausing at ten important turning points on the way.  From the Mantua of Monteverdi's 'L'Orfeo' in 1607, we will travel to 1730's London for Handel's 'Alcina'; venturing to Vienna in 1762 for Gluck's ground-breaking 'Orfeo'. Staying in Vienna, we will attend the première of Mozart's 'Magic Flute' in September 1791. We return to Italy for Rossini's 'Cenerentola' (Rome, 1817) and Verdi's 'Rigoletto' (Venice, 1851), before journeying to Paris in 1859 for the première of Gounod's 'Faust'.  In January 1874, we progress to St Petersburg for Mussorgsky’s ‘Boris Godunov’; moving on to Bayreuth in August 1876 for the première of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ Cycle. Finally, we return to Paris in April 1902 for the première of Debussy’s ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’.

Programme details

Course begins: 18th January 2022

Week 0:  An Introduction to Teams – Course orientation

Week 1: Monteverdi's 'L'Orfeo', Mantua 1607

Week 2: Handel's 'Alcina', London 1735

Week 3: Gluck's 'Orfeo', Vienna 1762

Week 4: Mozart's 'Magic Flute', Vienna 1791

Week 5: Rossini's 'Cenerentola', Rome 1817

Week 6: Verdi's 'Rigoletto', Venice 1851

Week 7: Gounod's 'Faust', Paris 1859

Week 8: Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov', St Petersburg 1874

Week 9: Wagner's 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', Bayreuth 1876

Week 10: Debussy's 'Pelléas et Mélisande', Paris 1902


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course fee £229.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Miss Claire-Louise Lucas

Claire-Louise Lucas is a professional mezzo-soprano and a part-time music tutor. She lectures on opera and song for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.  She has lectured on singing in conservatoires and other universities in the UK and the USA.

Claire-Louise has performed extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the USA, including an appearance as a soloist in the Salzburg Easter Festival with Maurizio Pollini and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado.  Other recent performances include concerts at Gloucester Cathedral; Christ Church Cathedral; Salisbury Cathedral; Southampton University; the Leominster Festival and the Brighton Festival. 

Course aims

This course aims to examine some important turning points in operatic musical and social history.

Course Objectives

1. To examine the course of operatic musical and social history through different countries and eras.

2. To show how certain operas have influenced the prevailing musical and social conventions of their times.

3. To examine the legacy of each of these milestones on the journey through operatic history.

Teaching methods

The course will be delivered through a combination of pre-recorded lectures and online meetings, in which musical illustrations will be provided by the tutor sharing computer screen and sound.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. Chart the course of operatic history from 1600 to 1900.

2. Identify the main composers and their important works.

3. Show how these important operas have changed the course of operatic musical and social history.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be through the medium of 4 worksheets that will assist the students to consolidate the knowledge that they have gained in class. Students will also have the option to write an essay or undertake a project, the nature of which will be discussed in class.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)