Opera 101

Interested in expanding your repertoire and appreciation for opera? Join soprano, and Vancouver Opera Teaching Artist, Eve Daniell and special guests in a five-part introductory course to the world of opera. Learn about and discuss opera through its eras and most famous figures. The information will be presented using an interactive multimedia presentation, context, anecdotes and listening exercises that will breathe history into the art form and share our passion for opera with you!

Dates: Tuesday May 3 – Tuesday May 31 6:30-8:00PM (5 Zoom sessions)

Price: $100

Vancouver Opera’s Opera 101 discusses opera, through the eras and genres, starting at the beginning of each topic then exploring it further to learn about opera’s most famous figures, the hidden figures, the greatest operas, and the signature styles of each genre through the centuries.

Broken into five 90-minute sessions, the virtual course walks participants through the history of opera, what makes opera what it is, and how to orient oneself in the art form. By the end of the course participants will have a confident understanding of the basics of opera music and production and its singers, and a wealth of complementary information about specific operas, composers, and the an understanding of the industry – its strengths and the ongoing evolution as it responds to the times and society’s hunger for equality and representation.

Each week the sessions will be supplemented with extra listening options and resources participants can use to further explore the genres, the composers, or the operas. This introductory course may not answer every question a participant has, but will affirm that all are welcome in the world of opera, and hopefully will ignite each participant’s curiosity to dig deeper into this extraordinary art form.


Teaching Artists

Eve Daniell

Canadian/British Soprano Eve Daniell has performed roles including Krasava in the UK premiere of Smetana’s Libuše,  Elettra, Fiordiligi, Donna Anna, Contessa, and more. Originally from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Eve moved to the UK to study at the Royal Academy of Music on a Sainsbury Award and the Catherine Osborne Scholarship.  There she won the highly prestigious Pavarotti Prize before graduating from the Royal Academy Opera in 2016. Her current recital work focuses on women composers and helping bring their rich contributions to light. For more information visit www.evedaniell.com


Each session has select excerpts that exemplify the styles of the eras, genres, and of the famous composers. The course discusses historical context and the technology the composers were working with that led to these distinct styles and practices. 

Session 1: Introduction to Opera

  • What is opera? 
  • How to identify voice types
  • How is an operatic voice trained?
  • From planning to performance – how are productions cast and created? 
  • The origins of opera – the context, style, and soundworld.

Excerpts include Kiri te Kanawa, Luciano Pavarotti, Shirley Verret, Claudio Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea and Francesca Caccini’s The Liberation of Ruggiero from the Island of Alcina.

Session 2: Handel to Mozart – Opera through the 17th and 18th Century 

  • The sound and style of opera through the 1700s into the Classical era
  • What is a librettist and how is their role related to the composer’s?
  • The vocal style and performance practice of Handelian and Mozartean music
  • How did evolving instrument technology shape these eras?

Excerpts include G F Handel’s Alcina, W A Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier du Saint-Georges’ L’Amant anonyme.

Session 3: Bel canto and the Human Voice

  • The advance of vocal technique and the Italian school of Bel canto 
  • What is Coloratura and ornamentation of vocal lines?
  • The role of women in bel canto, the portrayal and musical demands
  • The role of women behind the scenes, the credit and deserved legacies

Excerpts include Giachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, Pauline Viardot’s Cinderella, and Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

Session 4: Verismo to Wagner – Extreme Opera

  • What is Verismo opera, style, and singing?
  • The role of women in verismo, the portrayal and musical demands
  • How big can an opera orchestra get?
  • What is a Dramatic voice and what do they have to do in an opera?
  • Bayreuth and the world of Wagner

Excerpts include Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre.

Session 5: Opera Recently, Opera Now, and Opera’s Future

  • Opera in the 20th century, its topics and musical style 
  • Modern technology in historic art, from recording techniques to livestreaming
  • Is opera finding an inclusive way forward for all people and stories? How?
  • How does opera tend to its relevance in an ever-evolving society?

Excerpts include Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, John Adams’ Nixon in China, Marie Clements’ and Brian Currents’ Missing, Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in my Bones