The Livingston Public Library is pleased to announce an upcoming three-part mini-course, funded by the Livingston Library Endowment Fund. Opera 101, presented by Dr. Robert Butts, will detail the history of opera, composers and themes through several centuries.         

Maestro Robert W. Butts has entertained and thrilled audiences through his passionate conducting and performing. He currently serves as Music Director/Conductor of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey and New Jersey Concert Opera and as artistic director with Opera At Florham.  Since 2006, he has provided leadership and inspiration as Artistic Director for the Summer Festival of Baroque Music held in Madison, New Jersey. In addition, he has conducted performances featuring The New Jersey Symphony, The Plainfield Symphony, The Society of Musical Arts Orchestra, Harmonium Choral Society, the Oratorio Singers and the Masterwork Chorus.  Maestro Butts has been a regular guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies in Eastern Europe. He earned his doctoral degree in conducting from The American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.

One of New Jersey's leading opera performers. Dr. Butts is the only conductor to have led three operas of Richard Wagner in New Jersey (Die Walkure, Das Rheingold, and Siegfried) and three Handel operas in New Jersey (Giulio Cesare, Semele, and Acis and Galatea. He has recently conducted operas by Verdi, Mozart, and Puccini to great acclaim. His performance of Puccini's Tosca in June 2009 was described as "a complete operatic experience, the full measure of the work vibrating powerfully in every bar."

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Dr. Butts is also a respected lecturer throughout New Jersey on a variety of musical topics. He lectures frequently for The New Jersey Council for the Humanities. He is on the faculties of Montclair State University and The College of Saint Elizabeth. He has taught at Drew University, County College of Morris and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Special talks have been presented for New Jersey State Opera, The New Jersey Symphony, The State Theater, NJPAC and at libaries, retirement communities and museums across the state.

Combining his conducting and lecturing talents, Maestro Butts has developed a series for cable television broadcast called Concerts and Conversations. These include a lecture on a specific composition with audio and video excerpts followed by the complete performance.

As a composer, Maestro Butts has had many chamber music works performed throughout the New York/New Jersey area as well as several of his orchestral works. His musical theater work Gesualdo, written in collaboration with playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher, was performed at the New York Dramatists Guild in Manhattan. He is the composer of an original opera, "Mark Twain and the General," based on the lives of Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain.

The Opera 101 mini-course will begin on Thursday, October 11, with “Opera: The First 200 Years.” Opera began as an experiment around the year 1600. By 1700, opera became the world's leading form of entertainment.

"Opera: The Golden Years" will be presented on Thursday, November 8, and will focus on the nineteenth century, perhaps the greatest century for opera as more of the most lastingly popular operas were composed during this, the Romantic era.

"Opera: Verismo and Modernism," marked the end of the Romantic period and

produced a style of opera that was filled with passion, sensuality and excitement. This final lecture will be presented on Thursday, December 6.

The course is free and is open to adults with a valid Livingston Library card. If you don’t have a library card, here’s an incentive to get one – just bring in current identification with your name and Livingston address. Registration for the series will begin at 10:00 am on September 27 and will continue until the course is filled. Tickets will be issued, two per person, only to Livingston Library cardholders and must be picked up in person at the library.

All lectures will begin promptly at 7:30 pm. Participants will not earn credits. A suggested list of books, CDs, and DVDs from the Library’s collection will be available.

For additional information, call 973-992-4600, extension 263.