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VIRTUAL The Story of Opera Part 3: Verismo and Modern Opera 1890-2000

VIRTUAL The Story of Opera Part 3: Verismo and Modern Opera 1890-2000

Opera was a creation of the Baroque period, "invented" around the year 1600 and developed rapidly into one of the world's most popular theatrical forms  The combination of words, music, and drama became immensely popular and spread around the world as opera houses were built and new works created.  Many theater and music elements taken for granted were first developed in opera.  Opera remains a popular, expensive, and inspiring theatrical form.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on opera presented by composer, conductor and educator Dr. Robert W. Butts and covers the period from 1890-2000.  It will include a talk combined with musical selections.

In the 1870s, a movement away from Romanticism toward Realism sprung from France, most notably in the opera Carmen (1875) by Georges Bizet.  The style quickly spread to Italy and inspired some of the most popular and beloved of all theatrical works in a style that has come to be called "Verismo." The realism elements most inspired Italian composers like Ruggiero Leoncavallo and Pietro Mascagni.   The most successful and still most popular of all opera composers in this style was Giacomo Puccini.   At the same time, lighter works - called "operetta" - also became popular,  especially the works of Johann Strauss and Gilbert & Sullivan.  In the 20th century, opera was influenced by ideas of modernism, extreme realism, psychological depth, and diversity.   While modernism led to a lesser number of standard operas composed, it nevertheless led to a period of increased opera composition and performance. Today, more new operas are being composed and premiered than ever, with styles ranging from the most modernistic to Broadway type songs.

Musical excerpts include works by George Bizet, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Giacomo Puccini, and Johann Strauss.

Dr. Robert W. Butts has lectured and taught at The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, Montclair  State University, and The College of Saint Elizabeth as well as for The New Jersey Council for the Humanities. He has presented talks and courses for community programs throughout New Jersey. As a  conductor, he has led the award-winning Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey for over 25 years and has  conducted The New Jersey Symphony, The Plainfield Symphony, Opera at Florham, New Jersey Concert Opera, Eastern Opera, and Opera Theater of Montclair. In addition, he has conducted orchestra  and opera performances in Russia, Romania, Germany, and Italy. His compositions have been performed in the United States, Europe, and Asia.  

Part 1 of the series on Early Opera 1600-1800 premieres on May 24th

Part 2 of the series on Romantic Opera 1800-1890 is on June 21st.

You can register for one or more programs in the series.

Information on joining the Zoom session will be emailed the day before the event.

This program is made possible with the support of the Friends of the Livingston Public Library.


Monday, July 19, 2021
7:00pm - 8:15pm
BCCLS Library:
Livingston Public Library
  Lecture     Live Stream  
Registration has closed.

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Livingston Library
  • 10 Robert Harp Dr.
    Livingston, NJ
  • 973-992-4600

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