New Haven Course Info



Transforming Literature into Opera               
Judith Malafronte

 Registration       $405

Wednesdays, September 26 - November 7, 5 - 7 p.m.              
Note earlier start date.  No class on October 17

Location: Classroom TBD, Yale, New Haven, CT 06511


Course Description: 

Opera: An exotic and irrational entertainment -Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language

Does opera ruin great literature? How much of the biblical Salome ends up in a French play by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and an opera in German by Richard Strauss? Is Rossini’s Figaro anything like Beaumarchais’ original? How does Mérimée’s gypsy become the operatic femme fatale Carmen?

In addition to these works and characters, we will consider Oedipus, Verdi, Henry James, Shakespeare, and Benjamin Britten in a wild gallop through stories, plays, librettos, musical settings, contemporary interpretations, and modern productions. We will examine six operatic masterpieces derived from great (and maybe not so great) literature. We will consider the role of the librettist and will study the dramatic effect of various musical forms and operatic conventions.

Students are expected to watch one opera a week and read original source material as well as secondary sources. Readings and links to performance videos are sent by PDF or are noted in your syllabus. If you subscribe to the Met on Demand, you have access to many fabulous productions, but the course also strives to offer cost-free alternatives.

Ability to read music not necessary.


Course Materials:

The professor will provide PDFs as well as links to view most performances online.   


The full syllabus will be sent to students after registration.

Week 1- September 26: Rossini/Sterbini, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Beaumarchais, Le Barbier de Séville)

Week 2- October 3: Verdi/Boito, Otello (Shakespeare, Othello)

Week 3- October 10: Bizet/Meilhac-Halévy, Carmen (Mérimée, Carmen)

Week 4- October 24: Strauss, Salome (Wilde, Salomé)

Week 5- October 31: Stravinsky/Cocteau, Oedipus Rex (Sophocles, Oedipus the King)

Week 6- November 7: Britten/Piper, The Turn of the Screw (James, The Turn of the Screw)


Judith Malafronte

Judith Malafronte, lecturer in the Yale School of Music, Yale Institute of Sacred Music and in the Department of Music, has an active career as a mezzo-soprano soloist in opera, oratorio, and recital. She has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Handel and Haydn Society, and Mark Morris Dance Group, and has sung at the Tanglewood Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Utrecht Early Music Festival, and the Göttingen Handel Festival. Winner of several top international vocal competitions, Malafronte holds degrees with honors from Vassar College and Stanford University, and studied at the Eastman School of Music, in Paris and Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and with Giulietta Simionato in Milan as a Fulbright scholar. Malafronte has recorded for major labels in a broad range of repertoire, from medieval chant to contemporary music, and she writes regularly for Opera News, Stagebill, Early Music America Magazine, The Classical Review, and Parterre Box.


The Beatles - Part 1, 1957-65       
Mark Spicer

 REGISTRATION          $365

Mondays, October 1 - November 5, 6:30 - 8 p.m.                   

Location: Classroom TBD, Yale, New Haven, CT 06511

Course Description: 

This two-part course will offer an in-depth study of the music of the Beatles. It will trace their history, both in terms of their own stylistic development and against the backdrop of artistic, cultural, and political events and issues of the late 1950s, 60s, and 70s. It will also explore the legacy of the Beatles — that is, the extraordinary influence they have had and continue to have in shaping the history of popular music. The six-week seminar in the fall semester will cover the first half of the Beatles’ career, from their earliest days as the Quarry Men through their groundbreaking 1965 album Rubber Soul.  


Course Materials:

Tim Riley, Tell Me Why—The Beatles: Album by Album, Song by Song, The Sixties and After, revised and updated edition (New York: Da Capo Press, 2002). This is a trade paperback available for purchase at or your favorite online bookseller (around $20 new).

Note from Professor Spicer: As you will see from the course schedule below, I have organized the topics for each week’s class around the first six Beatles albums, from Please Please Me (March 1963) to Rubber Soul (December 1965). These albums are the “primary texts” for the course, and I would like everyone to come to each class having already listened to the songs on the album under discussion for that week. Some of you may already own these records in some format, but if not, you can stream the albums for free at



Week 1: From the Quarry Men to Please Please Me (March 1963).
Early rock history.
Read Riley, Introduction (pp. 5–36) and Chapter 1 (pp. 37–60).

Week 2: With the Beatles (November 1963).
The rise of Beatlemania.
Read Riley, Chapter 2 (pp. 61–90). 

Week 3: A Hard Day’s Night (July 1964).
The Beatles conquer America.
Read Riley, Chapter 3 (pp. 91–114). 

Week 4: Beatles For Sale (December 1964).
Other British Invasion groups.
Read Riley, Chapter 4 (pp. 115–31).

Week 5:  Help! (July 1965).
Pop music in the summer of 1965.
Read Riley, Chapter 5 (pp. 132–51).

Week 6: Rubber Soul (December 1965).
The Beach Boys and the anxiety of the Beatles’ influence.
Read Riley, Chapter 6 (pp. 152–75).


Mark Spicer

Mark Spicer is Professor of Music at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He received his B.Mus. and M.Mus. (1987, 1990) from the University of North Texas and his Ph.D. (2001) from Yale. Spicer specializes in the reception history and analysis of popular music, especially British pop and rock since the1960s, and his writings have appeared widely in a number of scholarly journals and essay collections. His book, Sounding Out Pop, co-edited with John Covach, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010, and he has since edited the volume on Rock Music for the Library of Essays on Popular Music series from Ashgate (2011). Most recently, he completed a three-year term (2013–15) as Associate Editor of Music Theory Spectrum, the flagship journal of the Society for Music Theory.

Spicer served for 10 years (2005-15) as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Hunter College, as was the 2015 recipient of Hunter’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, he maintains an active parallel career as a professional keyboardist and vocalist, having worked with several groups in the U.S. and the U.K. since the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he was a founding member of the critically acclaimed group Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks, and can be heard on their first two CDs, On the Blank Generation (1991) and World of Fireworks (1994). He continues to take the stage most weekends, both with his own “electric R&B” group, the Bernadettes, and with the Christ Church Choir in New Haven.


In the Beginning…Origin Myths and the Meaning of Life          
Hugh Flick

Registration  $365

Tuesdays, October 2 - November 6, 6 - 7:30 p.m.              

Location: Rose Alumni House, 232 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511

Course Description: 

Cultures around the world express their worldviews by means narratives about the creation of the world as well as the creation of humans. This course will examine the pivotal role creation stories play in shaping our sense of who we are. In addition to the Judeo-Christian Genesis story, we will explore a variety of origin myths beginning with Babylonia and Ancient Greece. Our journey will move through time and across cultures as we use a variety of approaches (structural, psychological, etiological) to understand how myths can help a culture grapple with the most basic questions of existence.


Course Materials:

Materials will be provided to the students in PDF form.



Week 1:  Introduction.  What is myth?  How does it function?

Week 2:  Creation Myth of Babylon: The Enuma Elish

Week 3:  Creation Myth of Ancient Greece: The Theogony

Week 4:  Judeo-Christian Creation Myth – Genesis

Week 5:  Mayan Creation Myth: The Popol Vuh

Week 6:  The Trickster 



Hugh Flick

Hugh Meredith Flick Jr., who holds an M.Ed., an M.B.A, a J.D., and a Ph.D., is currently a Lecturer in Religious Studies and South Asian Studies at Yale. He served as the dean of Silliman College for 26 years from 1988 until 2014. Before joining the Yale Faculty in 1988, Flick was an Assistant Professor of Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where he taught with Professor Albert Lord. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Latin America, India, Asia, and Africa. He has served as the faculty lecturer on a Yale Alumni Association tour of India; as the study leader on a Harvard Alumni Tour of Mystical India, as the lecturer on a Smithsonian Institution tour of Legendary Peru, and as a professor on the University of Virginia’s 2015 Spring Semester at Sea.