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If My Semester in Vienna Were an Opera

Carissa Corrigan square headshot
Carissa Corrigan
December 29, 2022
The beautiful ceiling of the Wiener Staatsoper foyer.

My high school graduating class voted me "Most likely to write an opera." Me? I thought when I won that title, write an opera? No way. Sure, I was a musician, but I wasn't a huge opera fan. And how could I write an opera when I didn't know anything about writing one?

This past semester, I've actually learned a lot about opera. In my “Music in Performance” class, we studied music history throughout the Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods and we talked a lot about how opera has evolved as a form of music throughout these time periods. I've also attended many operas during my time in Vienna (nine, to be exact). Maybe now I do know a little bit about operas. So here goes my first attempt at writing an opera. Perhaps it will be my only attempt, but I thought that it would be fitting to describe my study abroad experience in an art form that has meant so much to me during my time in Vienna. Here is my opus, If My Semester in Vienna Were an Opera:

The Overture

The Overture to the opera is the music that the orchestra plays before the staging and the singing starts. Perhaps the overture to the opera about my semester abroad would have a lot of repeating themes, to represent how I planned for this semester many times over before it became a reality. Or maybe it would be a bit of a chaotic overture to represent the craziness that came with packing and preparing for the semester. Or maybe it would end without resolution because I didn't know what to expect. However I choose to write the overture, it won't include themes from the opera like many opera overtures do because I didn't know what my semester abroad would bring before I was finally able to experience it. Like me, the audience will learn the themes of the opera as the plot progresses.


The cast of my opera would include a chorus larger than many operas because of the many people that played significant roles in my life this semester. From my amazing roommates and friends to my fantastic professors, from my students and my supervising teacher at my internship to the IES Abroad staff, and the many people that I interacted with each day, my semester in Vienna was full of great people that made my semester special. I am so grateful to everyone that I met through this experience and thankful for the various ways that they each individually touched my life.


The genre of the opera would be an Operette, which is the German form of an operetta. An Operette, which translates literally to "little opera," is a genre that was popular in Vienna during the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the genre is in the German language and was popular in Vienna, I figure that it would be the perfect genre for my opera about my time in Vienna. It has been so great to learn German while living in a German-speaking country. It has allowed me to engage in learning the language on a level that I wouldn't be able to engage in the US and I have enjoyed practicing my German as I talk to those that I encounter throughout my daily schedule. The "little opera" genre would also be a good fit for the opera about my semester in Vienna, because although my four months living in Vienna was a grand experience full of more adventures than I could ever have imagined, in the grand scheme of things, four months isn't a very long time and I know that there is still so much more of Vienna for me left to experience when I return someday.


The finale of an opera is an extended final number at the end of an opera. After a lot of thought, I still can’t figure out how the finale would end. On the one hand, I’m so excited to be reunited with my family and friends from home and be back in my hometown and at my home university. But on the other hand, I’m sad to be leaving all the new friends and experiences that I have made in Vienna. Perhaps the best word to describe my finale would be “hopeful”. I’m hopeful that I can return home and keep all my wonderful experiences and memories from my semester abroad with me and hope to one day return to Vienna. Perhaps a good song for the finale of my opera would be “Wien, Wien, nur du allein” by Rudolf Sieczyński. The lyrics perfectly describe my love for the city:

Wien, Wien, nur du allein

Sollst stets die Stadt meiner Träume sein

Dort, wo ich glücklich und selig bin

Ist Wien, ist Wien, mein Wien


Vienna, Vienna, only you alone

Shall always remain the city of my dreams

There, where I am happy and blissful

Is Vienna, is Vienna, my Vienna

It’s hard to say if I ever will write this opera — or any opera, although it would be an amazing goal and accomplishment. In reality, though, this blog post will probably be the start and end of my opera writing career and If My Semester in Vienna Were an Opera will probably never reach the illustrious stage of the Wiener Staatsoper. But that’s okay. I suppose you’ll just have to study abroad in Vienna to experience the opera for yourself.

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Carissa Corrigan

Hallo! Ich heiße Carissa. I’m a Westmont College senior who is double majoring in Music Education and History. I am an enthusiastic musician and play the oboe and English horn. In my not-so-free time, you can usually find me baking cupcakes or cookies, painting, or planting seeds in my garden.

2022 Fall
Home University:
Westmont College
Gilbert, AZ
Music Education
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