The Operas of Wagner


Wagner's operas, in particular the "Ring" cycle, are arguably the grandest conceptions in the operatic repertory - a challenge for performers and listeners alike.  We will study the operas from Der fliegende Holländer to Parsifal in depth, tracing the dramatic and musical connections between them.

The course will trace the events of his life in order to set the operas in context, but the emphasis will be on studying the operas themselves and considering Wagner's concept of the "gesamtkunstwerk" or total art work.

Programme details

Courses starts: 20 Jan 2020

Week 1:  Der fliegende Holländer

Week 2:  Tannhäuser

Week 3:  Lohengrin

Week 4:  Das Rheingold

Week 5:  Die Walküre

Week 6:  Siegfried

Week 7:  Tristan und Isolde

Week 8:  Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Week 9:  Götterdämmerung

Week 10:  Parsifal


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 between January 1st and July 31st after the current 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 £215.00
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

To introduce students to the essential elements in Wagner’s operatic writing style through study of his major works.

Course Objectives:

  • to give an account of Wagner's life
  • to give a clear picture of Wagner's aesthetics
  • to explain how Wagner puts into practice his ideal of the total art work

Teaching methods

The course will be illustrated by audio and video extracts, mostly co-ordinated by computer.  All visual illustrations, including scores, opera texts, video and DVD extracts will be projected on to a large screen.  Audio recordings will be played through high quality hi-fi.  There may also be live demonstrations by the tutor of any relevant passages of music.

Learning outcomes

  • By the end of the course students will be expected to:
  • be familiar with the sequence of Wagner’s operas
  • describe some of the significant musical influences on Wagner
  • explain the idea of leitmotiv
  • explain Wagner's idea of 'total art work'      

Assessment methods

Assessment will be through the medium of 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 with the tutor beforehand.      

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.   


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course 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.

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

Level and demands

No prior knowledge of music is necessary for the enjoyment of this course.

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)