Opera 101: Understanding Opera will be presented Sunday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m. as a free class by Mariana Mihai-Zoeter at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St.

The class launches the Strand’s 12th season of Metropolitan Opera simulcasts, which opens on Oct. 7 with Bellini’s “Norma.” Opera 101 is open to all including those who are new to opera, as well as those already familiar with it. Purchase of opera broadcast tickets is not necessary in order to attend the class.

The two-hour introduction to this performance art will include a brief history; an overview of composers, singers and plots; how to listen to and understand opera, including the best operas to start with; and a discussion about why opera is still relevant today.

“In this crazy world of ours, where everything is fast-moving and chaotic, let's go back 400 years to where opera started — where we can immerse ourselves in beautiful music-making by genius composers and talented singers in beautiful opera houses,” said Mihai-Zoeter.

Opera and musical theater are the fastest growing of the performing arts in terms of consumer spending, according to a recent National Endowment for the Arts report. Opera audiences of all ages are attracted by its gorgeous music, vivid drama and magnificent production values.

Mariana Mihai-Zoeter is head of the voice program for the School of Music at the University of Southern Maine; and the artistic director for USM’s summer Opera Workshop Academy. She joined the School of Music faculty after a 30-year international career as a performer, voice teacher, clinician, conductor and opera director. Mihai-Zoeter graduated from the Bucharest University of Music, Romania, with a BM in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy; and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Vocal Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory.

Admission is free. For more information, visit rocklandstrand.com; call 594-0070, ext. 3; or email info@rocklandstrand.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.