A Brief History of Italian Opera

A bit of history, a bit of gossip, a lot of music, and no homework!

This course will cover the basics of Italian opera, starting with its invention in Florence and the lavish Venetian operas of the 17th century. It continues with the vocal fireworks of opera seria alongside the comic antics of opera buffa in the 18th century before going on to the melodic 19th century bel canto works of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. The class ends with an overview of Italy’s two towering geniuses, Verdi and Puccini. Taught with wry commentary by Buck Ross, former director of the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston.

No special musical training is necessary to enjoy this course, only a love of music!


About the lecturer:

Buck Ross was the director of the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston from 1985-2022 where he produced and stage directed over 140 operas. Mr. Ross holds the distinction of having directed more operas in Houston than anyone in the history of the city.

He is the librettist for A Room with a View based on the novel by E.M. Forster, as well as a song cycle, Shadows and Music, about silent film stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish, both for composer Robert Nelson, and which are both available on commercial recordings. In 2018 his libretto for The School for Scandal based on the play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, also for Nelson, had its premiere and won an award for best opera production from the National Opera Association. He is also the author of several singing translations of operas. His English version of Orpheus in the Underworld has been performed most frequently nationwide including four productions just last season.

Mr. Ross has directed for many professional regional opera companies as well including Nevada Opera, Kentucky Opera, El Paso Opera, Utah Opera, Sacramento Opera, and Sarasota Opera.

Known as an acting teacher for singers, he presents master classes annually throughout the nation and for many years directed the apprentice program for the Des Moines Metro Opera and was director of dramatic studies for the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in stage direction from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in theatre and music from Bucknell University.



Mondays, January 16 to February 6, 2023 | 7:00 – 8:30 PM
$100 ICCC Members | $125 Non-members
The event will be in-person at the ICCC.



Cancellation Policy: If the course is canceled for any reason, including insufficient enrollment, tuition will be refunded in full. Students who cancel their course registration before the first scheduled day of class may receive either a full refund or credit. After the first day of class no refunds or credits, including prorated refunds or credits, are allowed for any reason.


This program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.