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From a Love of Opera to a Love of Language

Harry Rose (C’20)

Double major, Italian and Comparative Literature
Recipient, Dante Award; Cesarina Horing Award

When I applied to Georgetown, I wrote my personal statement about my passion for opera. At that point, I had been writing performance criticism for almost half a decade as “Opera Teen.” Despite possessing no musical aptitude, something about opera fascinated (and continues to fascinate) me; the fusion of language, music, literature, and theatre to create a more persuasive whole. There was so much to discover and I wanted to dig in deeper; I knew that was the intellectual impulse that was driving me to Georgetown, but I didn’t know what I’d find once I got there. To my very great fortune, I discovered the humanities.

At Georgetown, I worked backwards from an interest in opera to develop comprehension and literacy in each constituent piece of an inherently interdisciplinary art form. Arriving as an Italian major, I continued to build on my knowledge of Italian and complement it with both core and elective work in history, music, philosophy and literature. And at the end of my sophomore year, right before heading off to a fall semester in Bologna to study history and music at the world’s oldest university, I declared a second major in comparative literature. Comp Lit became the perfect academic program for me and I found the happiest intellectual home in its multilinguistic and multicultural approach to looking at the world and its literature. And all the while, I kept my analytical skills engaged by continuing to write about opera and working with Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, serving as Executive Producer this past season.

These academic and extracurricular experiences enabled me to take on a joint honors thesis project between the two majors this year, an English translation and critical introduction to Gabriele D’Annunzio’s 1901 verse drama, Francesca da Rimini. Through studying literature, language, history, philology, and performance with the support and guidance of Prof. Pireddu, I spent an illuminating year digging into this underrated Decadent-era problem play, D’Annunzio’s most overt attempt at a Mediterranean refitting of Wagner’s “Gesamskunstwerk” idea. Undoing some of its practical and philosophical knots was the high point of my academic career and it was only possible through the supportive, flexible approach the humanities receive at Georgetown.

While I will miss Georgetown’s characteristic warmth and rigorous interdisciplinary approach to the humanities, I look forward to taking what I learned with me as I pursue academia in the future. Thank you, Georgetown, and Hoya Saxa!

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