The Epic of Opera with William Berger VIDEO PACKAGE

The Epic of Opera with William Berger VIDEO PACKAGE

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     This webinar took place over eight Zoom sessions during two weeks in June. It addressed the subject of opera itself: What is it? Why is it the way it is? How did it become that way? What can be gained from engaging with it that can’t be gained elsewhere? The course followed the development of this most unusual art form. So, it was a sort of a history—but really it was an inquiry into context rather than a historical rundown. What emerged was a sense of how opera—far being merely a freakish side show to the pageant of history—is actually a sort of vast audio-visual-sensual kaleidoscope, providing a unique, profound, and essential perspective on that pageant.

Each session was about an hour long and was comprised of three 20-minute components.

  • The first component was a multi-media presentation by author, lecturer, and Metropolitan Opera commentator William Berger. (See below for individual descriptions of each session.)
  • The next component was a chat with one (or two) major opera stars, offering their perspective on the diverse elements of opera. Meet our guests.
  • Finally, there was an interactive period with the featured opera star, with questions and subjects prompted by the attendees.

     Links are provided for further reading and watching, along with recommended playlists (you must have a Spotify account to listen). It’s important to clarify, however, that this is not a group listening session comparing, say, the styles of Callas and Tebaldi. When our playlists include a Callas or a Tebaldi and others, it will be in order to illustrate the mechanics of the art form itself.  (This is not be a forum for snark and diva battles. There are other on-line destinations for that.) 
     Each session also included a recommended, theme-appropriate “Featured Cocktail” devised by notable musical mixologists, emphasizing that this was a social and artistic event, as well as an educational one. See what our mixologists came up with!

Once the Video Package is purchased, you will be provided with a confirmation email, and then another email with a special discount code that will allow you to download the specified videos from the website for free.


  • All eight previously recorded sessions. 

Links to the Playlists on Spotify, with descriptions and info on each piece for each session, are free to the general public and are listed on the video product description page. An account on Spotify will be needed to listen.

See below for the description of each session. Click to meet our guests and/or to see more info about our mixologists and their concoctions.

Please note: all videos are available for download only; they are not available to stream. 

Videos are meant for home entertainment use only. No part of the video can be posted, sold, or used for other means without prior permission.

If you previously purchased a subscription to the LIVE webinar, you can not use the special Live Discount Code with this package. The Live Discount Code was available for use only until July 15, 2020.

Videos are available to download individually (click 'Get a Specific Video(s)' at the top of this page), but buying this package will save you more than 35%!!

The videos you will receive with your Epic of Opera Video Package: 


Session #1: The Strange Creation of the Florentine Camerata

Filmed Sunday June 7, 2020, 4:00 PM NY Time

What was this strange thing called “opera”? What is it now? Why is it what it is, and what do we really need to know about it in order to mine its vein of gold? 

Special Guest: Justino Díaz

Featured Cocktail: The Don Justino, by Benson Liam Serr




Session #2: The Baroque – The Theater of Art, Sexuality, and God

Filmed Tuesday June 9, 2020, 7:30 PM NY Time

The so-called “Age of Reason” sought extreme measures to reconcile the split between Art and Nature, and some of their operatic creations (e.g., the box office, warped time, and outlandish celebrity singers) continue to define life in our day.

Special Guest: Anthony Roth Costanzo

Featured Cocktail: The Castrato, by Hunter Thore




Session #3: There’s Something About Mozart

Filmed Thursday June 11, 2020 7:30 PM NY Time

A very few artists (Shakespeare and The Beatles also come to mind) are so great that the magnitude of their greatness prevents people from appreciating how great (and enjoyable) they actually are. Mozart heads this list. What did he really accomplish, and how do we access it (and savor it) without being crushed by the pressure to worship his art?

Special Guest: Christine Goerke

Featured Cocktail: The Madamina, by Carlos Crowcell-Avelar




Session #4: Madness and Magnificence in Bel Canto and Grand Opéra

Filmed Saturday June 13, 2020 4:00 PM NY Time

Vocal abilities become characters of their own in the 19th century, creating forms of opera that will never be understood by the prosaic. But with a few new ways of looking at these forms, we can experience profound journeys in places where literalists can only see fodder for satire and cartoons.

Special Guest: Jamie Barton

Featured Cocktail: The Rossini, by William Berger




Session #5: Romantics and Nationals – The World Got Smaller, Opera Got Bigger

Filmed Sunday June 14, 2020 4:00 PM NY Time

Verdi and Wagner blazed bright and created works that we are still just beginning to unpack today, while a curious “little” work called Carmen showed up unassumingly – and changed everything in the opera house and beyond.

Special Guest: Morris Robinson

Featured Cocktail: The Palais Garnier, by Casey Emerald




Session #6: Things Get Real: Verismo, Cinema, and Modern Urban Life

Filmed Tuesday June 16, 2020 7:30 PM NY Time

New technologies for seeing and hearing the worlds of what people were able – and willing – to see and hear in the beauty and brutality of the world. Suddenly, audiences are content to open the door to such moments as the heroine of one opera of the new verismo style screaming from her gut “Per ché non sono morta?!?” (“Why am I not DEAD!”)

Special Guest: Latonia Moore

Featured Cocktail: The "Tremava Tutta Roma," by Dino Colacito




Session #7: The Cataclysm of Modernity

Filmed Thursday June 18, 2020 7:30 PM NY Time

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Einstein and Picasso show everyone that time and space (respectively) are relative. So opera – the bastard step-child of time and space – offers a century’s worth of ways to respond these Great Brain Fries, from shattering existential angst to palliative vernacular loveliness. 

Special Guest: Anthony Dean Griffey

Featured Cocktails: The Countess Geshpritz, by Carlos Crowcell-Avalar



Session #8: The Recent Past, Today, and Tomorrow… “What IS Reality Anyway, Man?”

Filmed Saturday June 20, 2020 5:00 PM NY Time

New operas continue to be created at a rate that would have made our ancestors gag with envy, despite (or because of) a lack of consensus about the one “right” way to write them. There are new ways to savor the old art form, and traditional ways to experience it are challenged by new realities. How will the art form – and its audience – evolve into tomorrow?

Special Guest: Susanna Phillips

Featured Cocktail: The Minimalist Mule, by Hunter Thore


Click to meet our guests and/or to see more info about our mixologists and their concoctions.

Videos are meant for home entertainment use only. No part of the video can be posted, sold, or used for other means without prior permission.

Videos are available to download individually (click 'Get a Specific Video(s)' at the top of this page), but buying this package will save you more than 35%!!