Anne Midgette

Five Things I've Learned About

How to Love Opera Like an Insider

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Join acclaimed music critic and opera insider Anne Midgette, and discover the Five Things She’s Learned that make it easy to appreciate and enjoy this essential art form.

Online Event Details

  • 120 minutes


  • Single-Class Ticket - $60.00

View the archive of my two-hour class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned that make it easy to appreciate and enjoy this crazy art form.

Opera is one of the most misunderstood art forms in Western culture. Many people equate it with shrieking, large women in breastplates and Viking helmets, and overpriced elitism. But all those people have it wrong. Opera is one of the most visceral and enjoyable media out there, once you attune yourself to its idiom. It’s a direct ancestor of both popular song and Hollywood film, and if you like either of those, there’s no reason you shouldn’t like opera as well. After all, this is an art form that, perhaps more than any other, specializes in heightened emotion, and in finding ways to communicate it — often at the top of one’s lungs. Forget elitism: opera, at its best, is primal and cathartic.

For me, opera is a lifelong passion: my guilty pleasure, my deep love, the thing that got me started as a music critic, and the art to which I always return. And I’m always eager to share my excitement about it (as my friends can attest). This course isn’t a history of opera with a timeline of the Great Composers or the Best Works — there are plenty of books you can turn to for that kind of thing, once your interest is kindled. What I want to do, instead, is offer you a bunch of different doorways into opera, with a lot of examples to whet your appetite, and leave it up to you which one entices you to enter. I’ll offer thoughts about how to appreciate the singing, what to make of the ways these stories are put on stage (Verdi’s Aida, the Ethiopian princess, as a cleaning lady?!), how the form is evolving today, and whether we can break free of some of the social baggage that has accumulated over the centuries, particularly around questions of race and gender.

This class is designed for anyone who’s ever thought about opera, whether you know nothing about it and can’t imagine why anyone cares; are an occasional opera-goer uncertain how to deepen your relationship to the genre; or are a die-hard opera fan who’s always eager for more opera talk. Whichever of those descriptions fits you, I bet I can offer something to pique your interest, and let you come away with a sense of the terrain and the way aficionados think about it, and give you the resources to continue your explorations on your own. My whole career as a music critic over the last three decades was entirely, and improbably, spawned from my love of this crazy art form; I have a lot to say about opera, and I would love if if you’d come along for the ride.

Anne Midgette

Anne Midgette was the classical music critic of The Washington Post for 11 years, from 2008 to 2019. Before that, she was for seven years a regular contributor of classical music and theater reviews to The New York Times. She has also written about music, the visual arts, dance, theater and film for The Wall Street Journal, Opera News, The Los Angeles Times, Town & Country, and many other publications, reviewing and interviewing everyone from Spike Lee to Twyla Tharp, Marina Abramovic to Luciano Pavarotti. At the Post, she oversaw every aspect of classical music coverage, offset her music writing with occasional visual art reviews, and posted online as The Classical Beat

A graduate of Yale University, where she majored in Classical Civilization, she lived in Germany for 11 years, writing for a range of publications about music, the visual arts, theater, dance and film; editing a monthly magazine; working as a translator; and writing several travel guidebooks. 

She is co-author of The King and I, a candid and controversial book written with Luciano Pavarotti’s former manager, Herbert Breslin, about his 36 years working with the temperamental tenor; and of My Nine Lives, the memoir of the pianist Leon Fleisher, who reinvented himself after losing the use of two fingers on his right hand, only to regain their use some 30 years later. She is currently working on a historical novel about the woman who built pianos for Beethoven.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Your ticket entitles you to ongoing access to this class — even after the live session concludes.

If you purchase a ticket in time to join the class live, you can view the archive as soon as it’s posted, as often as you like. Look for an email with information about how to access the course archive within 48 hours of the end of the live class. Once you get it, you’ll have all the information you need to access it as you like across any and all devices you own.

If you purchase a ticket after the live class takes place, you can view the archive immediately, and you can return to it as frequently as you like

If you’d like a refund, we can happily credit the card you used to register for the session. Please send a note to , and we’ll confirm receipt as soon as we see it (We don’t need your credit card info – just your email address and date of purchase.)

There are two things to know:

  • Unfortunately, we can only accept cancellations and refunds up to 48 hours before a scheduled session.
  • There is sure to be a lapse in time between the time we refund your order and the time a corresponding credit appears on your credit card statement. So that you’re not left waiting and wondering, we’ll contact you as soon as we’ve processed the credit in our system.

For reasons we hope you’ll understand – the biggest of them the fact that we make a point of compensating the folks who host Five Things I’ve Learned classes as quickly as we can – we can’t accommodate refunds for tickets purchased within 48 of the start of a scheduled live event. We can also accommodate refund requests for the purchase of an archived session only within 24 hours from the time of purchase.

If you’ve purchased a ticket for this online class and you find that for some reason you can’t make the live session, you have two choices:

  • The first: View the session archive. You can view the session archive as soon as it’s posted – or any time, as often as you like. We’ll make an archive of this class available within 48 hours of the live session, and we’ll send every ticket holder details on how they can view it. As a ticket holder, you’re able to view this full session archive any time– as often as you like.
  • The second: Request a refund. Just send a note to, and we’ll help sort things out. Please keep in mind that we can only accommodate refund requests made more than 48 hours from the start of a live session.

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