Friday, July 31, 2015

Shakespeare, Verdi and Opera in Rye

Yale instructor and opera singer Judith Malafronte will teach a special class on Verdi, Shakespeare and opera in Rye this fall (Yale photo)
A few years ago, Judith Malafronte, an instructor at the Yale School Music, designed a course for Yale undergraduates that combined Shakespeare and music.  She sings opera professionally and writes about it in various publications. She wanted to present Shakespeare in the context of music and opera.  The course was tailored for Yale's Freshman Seminar Program.

Students in the course get a "basic introduction to music history and to opera and developing listening skills, such as the way composers use different instruments and different voice types for special effects," Malafronte explained to the Yale Daily News in 2012.

Malafronte will offer a subset of the semester-long course this fall in Rye as part of Yale Alumni College.  The Rye course will be held at the Osborn on Monday evenings (7:00-8:30 pm) from Oct. 5-Nov. 9 (except Oct. 12) and will focus on Giuseppe Verdi's Shakespeare operatic productions of MacBeth, Otello and Falstaff. While not teaching at Yale, she is a mezzo-soprano soloist who has performed with the Los Angeles and San Francisco symphonies and with other orchestras throughout the country.  She contributes articles to Stagebill and Opera News.

For her Yale course, students study how the opera librettists might alter the familiar Shakespeare texts for staging purposes or how they may change the language and alter the rhythms of Shakespeare lines.  Yale students, too, listen to historical recordings of the operas and get a chance, if scheduling and timing work, to attend a production in New York of the Metropolitan Opera.

In the Rye course, Malafronte will examine the three plays and show how they were transformed into librettos.  Class participants will also examine the relationship between the composer and librettist and review the Shakespeare characters as they appear in plays and as they appear in operas.

"I've been watching Shakespeare since I was little, hanging around the American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford (Ct.)," she told the Yale Daily News three years ago.  "As a professional singer, I've performed a lot of Elizabethan music, lute songs, madrigals, ballads, jigs, sacred music, you name it, in costume or out."

While at Yale, Malafronte teaches at the Institute of Sacred Music and has also served as an adviser at Branford College.  She taught a Yale Alumni College course on opera in Greenwich (Ct.) in 2013.

For more about the course and enrollment, click ALUMNI COLLEGE. To register, click RYE-COURSE. 

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