Opera. Everyone’s heard of it, but how many people actually know what it is?

Luckily, Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver Campus at the Harbour Centre offers courses that give a little more insight as to exactly what opera is. SFU offers a variety of courses that are intended to educate novices and experts about great opera composers and their compositions.

“Opera has been a mystery for a long time for a lot of people. We felt that this was a way for us to provide some background into all aspects of it so that it would be more accessible and more enjoyable,” says Julian Benedict, co-ordinator of opera studies at SFU.

The Opera Studies program was designed in 1974 by Dr. Alan Aberbach. Aberbach’s infatuation for opera is still just as strong as it was more than 30 years ago, says Benedict.

“He’s had a passion for opera for decades, he’s almost 80 now. He taught the first course in our opera studies program in 1974 here in Vancouver, and he continues to teach today,” says Benedict.

The program builds off Vancouver’s growing and vibrant opera scene, something Benedict says is alive and well.

“Opera is taking off in Vancouver; Scotiabank Theatre actually presents live opera shows from The Metropolitan Opera in New York. They’re often sold out weeks in advance and in some cases they have to have two or three theatres operating to accommodate the demand,” he says.

The courses offered at SFU range from $38 to $110 and are open to people of all ages. The courses begin in September, January and May of each year and are a blend of six-week courses and one-day events. Registration for spring 2010 began on Nov. 16.

“We have about 300-400 students registered for this year already and that is up about 30 per cent from last year,” says Benedict.

For more, go to www.sfu.ca/operastudies.

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