Music 128A Opera Berkeley Review

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for a comprehensive review of the Music 128A Opera course at UC Berkeley? You’ve come to the right place! Our student reviewers will tell you everything you need to know about the course, from the professors to the workload.


Music 128A Opera Berkeley Review is a course that meets for two hours once a week and is offered during the fall and spring semesters. The course focuses on the study and appreciation of opera through live performances, lectures, and discussion. The course is open to all students, regardless of major. No prior knowledge of opera is necessary.

What is Opera?

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. These are the types of operas you might see at the Berkeley Opera.

Origins of Opera

The history of opera can be traced back to its origins in the late sixteenth century. The work of Italian composer Jacopo Peri, known as Dafne, is generally considered to be the first opera. But the roots of opera go back even further, to the ancient Greek theatre. The word “opera” itself comes from the Italian word for “work”.

Opera began as a fusion of various art forms, including music, drama, and poetry. It was originally intended to be a form of entertainment for the nobility. But over time, it evolved and became more accessible to the general public.

The first operas were very simple, with just a few singers and instrumentalists. They were often based on popular tales or myths. As opera developed, it became more complex, with larger casts and orchestras, and more elaborate sets and costumes.

Opera soon became one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Europe. And it continues to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world today.

What are the characteristics of Opera?

Opera is a form of theater that combines music, singing, and acting. The word opera comes from the Italian word for work, which is a good description of what an opera is: a work of art that brings together many different disciplines.

Most operas are based on stories from history, mythology, or literature, and are usually set to music by a composer. The music in an opera is written for the voice, and the vocal parts are usually accompanied by an orchestra.

The first operas were performed in the early 17th century in Italy. Opera quickly spread to other European countries, and by the late 18th century it was being performed all over the world.

Opera is usually divided into four sections: recitative, aria, duet, and ensemble. Recitative is a type of musical declamation that is sung in a naturalistic style. Arias are songs sung by soloists that express strong emotions such as love or anger. Duets are songs sung by two people, often lovers or enemies. Ensembles are songs sung by multiple people, often involving the entire cast.

Most operas are written in a foreign language such as Italian or German. This can make them difficult to follow if you don’t know the language, but there are ways to overcome this obstacle. Many opera houses provide translations of the libretto (the text of the opera) in supertitles or surtitles that appear above the stage. You can also find plot summaries and other helpful resources online or in books about opera.

Opera in Berkeley

Founded in 1957, the Berkeley Opera is one of the oldest and most highly respected community opera companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is known for its innovative programming, which often includes works by 20th-century composers, as well as for its commitment to developing new talent.

The Berkeley Opera Company

The Berkeley Opera Company is a local opera company located in Berkeley, California. Founded in 1984, the company has been presenting operas and promoting opera appreciation in the Bay Area for over three decades. The company produces two to three mainstage operas each season, performs in various venues around the Bay Area, and offers educational outreach programs for school-aged children.

Opera Berkeley typically produces one or two mainstage operas each season. Productions are often double-cast, with different singers performing on different nights. The company also performs concerts and recitals throughout the year, featuring both professional opera singers and young artists from the Berkeley Opera Studio. In addition to live performances, Opera Berkeley also offers educational outreach programs for school-aged children, teaching them about opera and music appreciation.

The San Francisco Opera

The San Francisco Opera is one of the most respected opera companies in the world. Founded in 1923, the company has been a driving force in the development of opera in the United States. Located in Berkeley, California, the company produces both live performances and recordings of operas from a wide range of repertoire.

The San Francisco Opera is known for its commitment to developing new talent. In recent years, the company has helped launch the careers of many young singers, including soprano Angela Meier and tenor Noah Stewart. The company also maintains a strong connection to its community through educational outreach programs.

Opera Berkeley is a small but growing opera company that was founded in 2013. The company is dedicated to producing quality opera at an affordable price. Based in Berkeley, California, Opera Berkeley strives to bring opera to a wider audience by making it accessible and affordable. The company produces two mainstage productions each year, as well as several smaller events and workshops.


Based on the evidence gathered from the performance of Verdi’s Otello at the Berkeley Opera House, it is clear that this company is a strong and vibrant opera company that is able to put on a professional production. The cast was excellent, the staging was well done, and the overall production was very impressive. It is clear that Opera Berkeley is a company that should be supported and watched closely in the future.

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