This course examines how politics and culture play out in that most refined of art forms: opera. The course will introduce students to the history of European opera, focusing on 19th century composers in France, Germany, and Italy. We will closely examine three operas: one French (Bizet’s Carmen), one Italian (Verdi’s Aida) and one German (Wagner’s Die Meistersinger). Following Edward Said’s work, we will examine how politics and culture play out in these works: European colonialism in Aida; the question of antisemitism in Wagner; stereotypes of Spain in Carmen. Includes excursions to the Metropolitan Opera.