Pillar 3. Opera Theory

The IOA teaches students how to communicate intelligently about and within the field of opera, on a professional level. Students acquire background knowledge about opera: specific musical analysis, dramaturgy, and insight into opera production. 

Applied Analysis

Starting from specific musical examples from the repertoire for voice — and covering a wide historical range — Applied Analysis offers analytical (formal, textual, parametric, socio-historical) as well as practical (IPA-International Phonetic Alphabet, rhythmical-harmonical training, …) tools related to interpretative and perfomative aspects of musicianship. 


At its core, dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and of the representation of the main elements of drama on stage. A dramaturge (or dramaturg) then, often functions as a (literary, musicological, etc) adviser or editor in a theatre, opera or dance company who researches, selects, adapts, edits, and interprets scripts, libretti, texts, scores and printed programmes (or helps others with these tasks). Besides working with (printed) source materials, a dramaturge also analyzes performances and thus acts, during a production process, as a consultant to or an intermediary between a director or choreographer, the audience, history, academic research, conventions, popular culture and current events. Departing from the axioms that every utterance, every note, every movement and every sound is produced for a reason, that all of these signs serve a proper function, and that they are all deeply embedded in a framework of connotations, the dramaturge strives to uncover hidden structures and meanings. 

To let dramaturgical tools and insights nourish your understanding and your musical practice, we will delve – through lectures and seminars, with close readings and case studies – into the history and analysis of genres and styles, of key operas and of noteworthy productions. 


Methodology offers an introduction to the inside workings of the world of opera. The course covers the different phases of the creation of a new performance and deals with such topics as production, planning and set-up of an opera house organisation chart. Students will visit the workshops of one of the major Belgian opera houses. Topics include management, self-management (negotiating fees, different types of contracts) etc. 

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