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Opera Insights Series

The Opera Insights Series is a series of free lectures for the community by San Diego's opera scholars, with enlightening and entertaining presentations that focus on productions in San Diego Opera's upcoming season and more. We celebrated the 65th season of the Opera Insights Series in 2020-2021!

Like most events, these San Diego Opera lectures went virtual in 2020-22. Please click on the "Gioachino Rossini" and “Previous Lectures” tabs for informative lectures by San Diego’s own Dr. Nic Reveles.

We are pleased to announce a new resource for opera lectures: The Vere Wolf Opera Previews Lecture Archive! SDPL’s first music librarian, William Vere Wolf, established this signature series in the 1950s and shared his dynamic and informative lectures throughout San Diego County for decades. Thanks to a recent donation of sound recordings, we have created an archive of these historic Central Library programs and look forward to adding more recordings in the following months. Check back for new additions!

The Vere Wolf Opera Preview Lecture Archive

About This Collection

This archive is comprised of digitized recordings of Opera Previews lectures given by Music Librarian William Vere Wolf (1917-2003) at the San Diego Central Library, 820 E Street, San Diego, CA. It also includes scanned images of the typed lecture notes that Wolf would hand out to attendees at his lectures.

Access the Archive

SD Opera Presents

Gioachino Rossini: The Man, The Music, The Food!

San Diego Opera is pleased to share its four-part Zoom lecture series with San Diego Public Library patrons! These free lectures tie into their upcoming production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
Text and image courtesy of SD Opera.
SD Opera graphic of Gioachino Rossini
In April 2021, San Diego Opera took a deep dive into the great composer’s life with four Zoom sessions led by Dr. Nic! See below for a description of each lecture and a link to the recording, uploaded on SDO's YouTube page.
Rossini’s Early Life and Times (Recorded on April 7, 2021)
Think of Gioachino Rossini as the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his time...he came to know what his audiences really wanted and how to get them to clamor for more! To truly understand how Rossini became the most successful (and the wealthiest!) composer of his time, Dr. Nic will take us through some of the important trends in art and culture that surrounded him when he was just getting a child, an itinerant opera coach, as a music student...and see how his life was influenced by it all. We'll look at Rossini during a time of extraordinary development in music, art, literature and politics, and how his life and works were at the center of it all.
Rossini and the Mezzo-Soprano (Recorded on April 14, 2021)
One of the more interesting aspects of Rossini’s operas is that he often featured the contralto or mezzo-soprano in music of sparkling quality. We think of Rosina in Barber, of course, as well as Angelina in La Cenerentola and Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri. In today’s session, Dr. Nic will survey some of the delightful arias from this vocal repertoire which include feats of acrobatic coloratura that has to be heard to be believed!
The Barber of Seville (Recorded on April 21, 2021)
In today’s session we’ll examine some of the highlights of Rossini’s greatest comic opera, The Barber of Seville. Using video examples and presiding at the piano, Dr. Nic will show us what it is about this delightful comedy that keeps us coming back to it. Comedy in music is extraordinarily difficult, but Rossini made it seem easy. Today we’ll examine why that’s so, and here’s a hint: it’s all in the timing. The combination of rhythmic drive, sparkling melodies and comic timing make Barber one of the great musical comedies of all time, and in this session we’ll take our time to appreciate its delights!
Rossini the Gourmand! (Recorded on April 28, 2021)
“I know of no more admirable occupation than eating, that is really eating!” Rossini was a man who truly loved food and as his success and pocketbook grew, he saw to it that he was surrounded by the finest culinary inventions of the day. He made it a point to befriend one of the earliest ‘celebrity’ chefs, Marie-Antoine Carême, creator of Tournedos Rossini in honor of the composer. In today’s session, Dr. Nic will introduce us to a few of the numerous recipes created in honor of the composer, beginning with the Rossini cocktail which will kick off our time together!
SDPL staff have compiled a sampling of resources in our collection relating to Rossini, The Barber of Seville, and singers mentioned in Dr. Nic's lectures, and you can view that list and place holds here.

San Diego Opera's 2021-2022 Season

March 19, 2022 | 4:00 - 5:00 PM PST
Virtual Event - Zoom link available here
Meeting ID: 827 2921 1885 | Passcode: sdopera
You are invited to join General Director David Bennett and the artists from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette for a lively virtual discussion on craft, performance, and the voice.

Have you ever been up close and personal with the soprano who sings the lead role? Have you ever wondered what the bass-baritone does to research his role to perform some of opera's most popular arias?

Stars in the Salon is your opportunity to find answers to these and other questions, and to discover more about the men and women who have devoted their lives to the art form. You will hear about their experiences traveling from role to role on the stages and opera houses of the world, as well as the finer details of their process, preparation, and what it takes to be a successful singer.

Stars in the Salon with cast of Roméo et Juliette
Check out San Diego Opera's YouTube channel for recordings of previous lectures as well as "Aperitivo With Artists (episode 17)," a lecture in January 2021 on Mozart's Così fan tutte!

Previous Lectures

We are honored to have strong partnerships with arts and education organizations in our community, and thanks to our collaborations with San Diego Opera and UC San Diego, we have recordings of four of our Opera Insights Series programs from 2016-2019. Please see below for programs filmed by UCSD-TV in our Neil Morgan Auditorium.
The Central Park Five with Composer Anthony Davis
Recorded on December 7, 2019
Presented by UC San Diego Extension in partnership with the Opera Insights Series.

Double Verdi (La Traviata and Falstaff)
Opera Insights Series/San Diego OperaTalk, recorded on January 6, 2017

David T. Little's Soldier Songs
Opera Insights Series/San Diego OperaTalk, recorded on October 4, 2016

Puccini X 2 (Madama Butterfly and Tosca)
Opera Insights Series/San Diego OperaTalk, recorded on February 5, 2016

About the Opera Insights Series

The Opera Insights Series prepares opera goers with enjoyable, informative, and engaging sessions about productions in San Diego Opera’s current season. The lectures will be held at the San Diego Central Library in the Neil Morgan Auditorium, located at 330 Park Boulevard, in downtown San Diego.

For more information about the lectures, call the Central Library at 619-236-5800. For more information about the productions and other San Diego Opera outreach activities, visit the San Diego Opera’s website.