Discovering ancient literature & 18th century opera online

During lockdown, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands.

I was teleworking, but with an inability to go out to take part in activities I usually enjoy, I was looking for something different to keep me busy and mentally active.

Perhaps I’m late to the game, but I was pleased to discover free, online classes through EdX .

I took two classes during that period, both offered by HarvardX.

One was Ancient Masterpieces of World Literature, a fascinating course exploring some of the timeless masterpieces from around the world. These include three that I’d already read: Gilgamesh, The Odyssey and One Thousand and One Nights.

As anyone who has studied literature knows, no matter how familiar you are with a work, there is always more to learn. And learn I certainly did, through these fascinating lectures.

Two novels were new to me: The Tale of Genji, which I first learned about on a trip to Japan, and which I still must read and another I’d never heard about before, The Lussiads, about Portugal’s Age of Exploration.

So while I was unable to travel during lockdown, even around my own city, I was vicariously on various journeys around the world and between the ancient and modern world.

The second class I followed was 18th Century Opera. I love opera, so this was a pleasant way to pass the time. Professor Kelly provided fascinating lectures, and really delved into customs, traditions, performances, stage managing and contemporary reception of operas, and specifically the work of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and (one of my favorites) Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

This was a truly enjoyable class. Even if I’d seen both operas, and know Mozart quite well, I learned a tremendous amount in this class and will definitely be taking other online opera classes.

So for those of you eager to enjoy online classes in a wide range of subjects (history, science, literature, music, psychology, management & much more), I urge you to take a look at the classes on offer … and enjoy!

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