Pillar 3. Opera Theory

The IOA teaches students how to communicate intelligently about and within the field of opera, at a professional level. Students acquire background knowledge about opera: specific musical analysis, dramaturgy, and insight into opera production. 


At its core, dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and of the representation of the main elements of drama on stage. A dramaturge often functions as a (literary, musicological, etc) advisor or editor in a theatre, opera or dance company. He or she researches, selects, adapts, edits, and interprets scripts, libretti, texts, scores and printed programmes (or helps others with these tasks). Besides working with (printed) source materials, a dramaturge also analyses performances and acts as a consultant to or an intermediary between a director or choreographer, the audience, history, academic research, conventions, popular culture and current events.  

Based on the assumption that every utterance, every note, every movement and every sound is produced for a reason, that all of these signs serve a proper function, and that they are all deeply embedded in a framework of connotations, the dramaturge strives to uncover hidden structures and meanings. 

To nourish the students’ understanding and musical practice with dramaturgical tools and insights, we will delve – through lectures and seminars, with close readings and case studies – into the history and analysis of genres and styles, of key operas and of noteworthy productions. 


Through several encounters with Guy Joosten and/or other people active in the opera world (e.g. casting director, artistic director), students get to know the ‘ins and outs’ of the opera business. Accomplished professionals share their work experiences, insights and worries, and answer all substantive and practical questions regarding the students’ own professional opera career. 

Contemporary Music

This course intends to be a road-trip through the operatic repertoire of the past century, from a historical, analytical as well as practical approach. (Alban Berg, Kurt Weill, György Ligeti, Helmut Lachenmann, Luciano Berio, Salvatore Sciarrino, …) 

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