Page 1


Study Guide and Pre- and Post-Performance Lesson Plans For Reading & Writing Common Core Standards

Grades 9 – 12

March 5, 2014 Dear Educator, Boston Lyric Opera is pleased to invite high school students to Final Dress Rehearsals at the Shubert Theatre throughout our season. We look forward to seeing you and your students at the theatre for this new production of Bellini’s I Puritani, featuring famous tour de force soprano arias! The experience of seeing live, professional opera is second to none. However, we encourage you to explore the world of the opera in your classroom as well. We are proud to now offer a study guide to support your discussions and preparations for I Puritani that includes special insights into the production, the opera’s history, and ready-to-use pre- and post-performance lesson plans for grades 9–12. Within the Study Guide you will find a link to an English translation of the libretto. BLO’s production will be performed in Italian with projected English titles. Boston Lyric Opera’s mission is to build curiosity, enthusiasm, and support for opera. This new study guide is one way in which we hope to serve this goal, and support the incredible work of educators like you, who bring this beautiful art form into your students’ lives. As we continue to develop these study guides this season, we want your feedback. Please tell us about how you use this guide and how it can best serve your needs by emailing If you’re interested in other opera education opportunities with Boston Lyric Opera, please visit to discover more about our programs. • • • •

Music! Words! Opera!, bring opera into your classroom Workshops offered in partnership with Wheelock Family Theatre Residencies and Workshops available through Young Audiences of Massachusetts Free Concerts and Community Programs

We look forward to seeing you at the theatre! Sincerely, Megan Cooper Director of Community Engagement


Welcome from BLO Director of Community Engagement .........................................................................2 Table of Contents ...............................................................................................................................................3 History of Opera ................................................................................................................................................4 Science of Sound from BLO and Museum of Science, Boston .....................................................................8 I Puritani: Artistic Statement and Synopsis .....................................................................................................10 I Puritani: Principal Characters ..........................................................................................................................11 Biography: Vincenzo Bellini .............................................................................................................................12 The English Civil War .......................................................................................................................................13 Pre-performance Lesson Plans Grade 9-10 ..................................................................................................14 Pre-performance Lesson Plans Grade 11–12 .................................................................................................16 Selected Scenes from I Puritani and Lucia di Lammermoor, Italian and English text .................................18 What to Listen For ............................................................................................................................................23 Mad Scenes .......................................................................................................................................................24 Post-performance Lesson Plans Grade 9-10 ................................................................................................25 Post-performance Lesson Plans Grade 11-12 ...............................................................................................27 References and Resources ...............................................................................................................................29

LATE 16TH - EARLY 18TH CENTURY: LATE RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE Opera was a creation of the Renaissance and its efforts to revive Classical antiquity. A group of Florentine intellectuals called the Camerata wanted to revive the tradition of Ancient Greek theater, particularly its practice of singing the text and using music to heighten the drama. In 1598, Jacopo Peri, one of the members of the Camerata, composed the world’s first opera — Dafne, a fitting Renaissance revival of a Classic mythological tale. Opera quickly became a very popular art form and swiftly spread to other cities in Europe. The French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully adopted the new art form and produced distinctly French operas in Paris, while George Frideric Handel turned opera into London’s most popular and sensational entertainment. The principal genre of opera during the Baroque era was opera seria or serious opera, which portrayed epic, dramatic stories using a highly embellished style of singing and spectacular staging. MAJOR COMPOSERS:


CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Monteverdi was the first great opera composer, and his operas were incredibly popular in Italy during his lifetime. Monteverdi took opera to the next level by expanding its scope and scale, escalating its drama with more sophisticated characterization, and writing far more complex, ornate music. His opera Orfeo, written in 1607, is often considered the first “great opera,” and remains a part of the opera canon today. GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759) Handel, the great German-born British composer, was one of the most successful and sought-after composers in 18th century England. Though Handel is best known for his ever-popular oratorio Messiah (1742), he was also a prolific and influential opera composer — producing more than forty operas and fostering a love for opera among the English audience. Handel’s operas display mature character development and dazzling vocal ornamentation, which are exemplified in his most famous operas Rinaldo (1711) and Giulio Cesare (1724).


MID - LATE 18TH CENTURY: THE CLASSICAL PERIOD Towards the mid-18th century, composers began to tire of the highly ornamented opera seria and its far-from-real-life stories and characters. Instead, they opted for a simpler, clearer style of music, opening a new chapter in music history known to us as the Classical Period. It is important to note that the term “Classical Period” is different from “Classical Music” — “Classical Period” or “Classical Era” refers to a particular style and time period within the big umbrella genre of “Classical Music.” MAJOR COMPOSERS: CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK (1714-1787) Gluck was the leader of a major opera reform movement in mid-18th century Europe. He rejected the former superfluously ornamental style of opera, in which music and drama only existed as a vessel for star singers to show off their vocal power and technical agility. Instead, Gluck wrote operas in a non-virtuosic, simple manner, believing that words and music should work together to convey the story. His most famous opera, Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), illustrates Gluck’s dedication to simplicity and natural beauty. WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) Even to this day, the name Mozart is synonymous with musical genius. Mozart excelled in any musical genre he touched whether it was a piano sonata, concerto, symphony or chamber music. Mozart also had a special gift for opera and was commissioned to write his first operatic work at the age of 14. Yet Mozart’s brilliant gift was not just in his musical versatility, but also in his deep understanding of the dramatic nature of music. Mozart intuitively knew how to portray moods, situations and personalities through music, and could transport the audience into depths of emotion, moving easily from incredible sadness to overwhelming joy. Mozart’s best operatic works include The Marriage of Figaro (1786), The Magic Flute (1791) and Don Giovanni (1787), which are still frequently performed staples of the repetoire. 4 | I PURITANI



LATE 18TH - MID 19TH CENTURY: THE BEL CANTO ERA Bel Canto literally means beautiful singing in Italian. Like Baroque operas, Bel Canto operas put greater emphasis on the power of the human voice. Amidst stories of passion and romance, Bel Canto composers wrote incredibly ornate passages that truly showcased a singer’s range, power, tone and technical mastery. MAJOR COMPOSERS:



GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868) Rossini was a precocious musical prodigy and became the leading composer in Italy by age 20. He is considered to be one of the most influential figures in opera history as he pioneered the Bel Canto style, which revolutionized and dictated the Italian operatic scene for the first half of the 19th century. Rossini wrote operas with extraordinary ease and speed, composing 39 operas within twenty years using his signature style — intricate vocal ornamentation with sparkling embellishments. While Rossini wrote everything from tragic to witty operas, he is best known to present-day audiences for his comic operas such as The Barber of Seville (1816), and La Cenerentola (1817), which is Rossini’s version of the classic fairy tale. GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Donizetti was another leading composer during the Bel Canto Era. Unlike his peers, Donizetti was not born into a musical or an affluent family. Yet his evident musical talents did not go unrecognized. The German conductor and composer Simon Mayr took the young Donizetti under his sponsorship and provided the protegé a full scholarship for his musical training. Donizetti received training with the same teacher as Rossini, and became one of the most prolific composers in opera history, producing a total of 75 operas. His most famous works include Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and L’Elisir d’Amore (1832). VINCENZO BELLINI (1801-1835) Bellini followed the Bel Canto tradition of Rossini but also improved the art of beautiful singing by cutting down on some of the excessive ornaments and focusing on simpler but incredibly expressive and emotive singing lines. Many of Bellini’s operas such as I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830) — the Bel Canto version of Romeo and Juliet, La Sonnambula (1831) and Norma (1831) are some of his most popular operatic works.


2012 production of The Barber of Seville. Photo by Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera.


MID - LATE 19TH CENTURY: LATE ROMANTICISM The dominant art movement in 19th century was Romanticism, which emphasized the artist’s imagination, expression and emotion over structure and convention. Romantic music typically embodies passionate, flowing melodies with complex harmonies, creating a stirring emotional experience for the listeners. The 19th century was also the golden age for opera. More popular than ever, opera was now the primary form of entertainment among not only the aristocracy, but also the growing middle class. Responding to the surging public demand, more opera houses opened up with bigger spaces to accommodate a vast number of operagoers. Orchestras also became larger as the musical idiom became more dense, rich and “romantic.” The change in orchestral texture also resulted in a new kind of opera singer — instead of the light, agile voices that were sought-after in earlier eras, the opera stage now required singers with powerful voices who could project over the thick sound of the orchestra. The plots in operas also became more diverse as composers conveyed contemporary real-life stories, exotic tales from the East or local folklore.


MAJOR COMPOSERS: GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901) Verdi was one of most successful composers in the history of opera. Not only are Verdi’s operas some of the most performed works today, he was also incredibly popular in his own time — thousands of Italians flooded the streets of Milan at his memorial singing the famous chorus from his opera Nabuco. Verdi is known for his grand operas with huge casts, stunning sets, elaborate costumes, large orchestras, lush music, and intense drama. Many of Verdi’s works also have a strong political undertone, but overall, they explore the timeless themes of passion, betrayal, love, power and death. Some of Verdi’s most treasured operas are La Traviata (1853) and Rigoletto (1851).


GIACOMO PUCCINI (1858-1924) Puccini is undoubtedly one of the most beloved opera composers, producing operas such as La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904) and Turandot (1926). Puccini’s universal appeal lies in his beautiful, lyric melodies with lush, romantic orchestral accompaniment. Puccini is also known for writing in the style of verismo or realism — depicting real-life characters with their everyday struggles. Many of his operas capture the lives of beautiful contemporary heroines who often face tragic deaths in the end. The great theatricality and melodrama of Puccini’s operas infused with poignant music emanate incredible emotional power, often bringing the audience members to tears. RICHARD WAGNER (1813-1883) Wagner is one of the most influential and controversial composers in music history. His music is deeply associated with German nationalism for his use of Nordic and German mythology. Wagner also had a new vision for opera, which he called gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art,” one in which music, theater, poetry, and visuals came together with a single purpose of serving the drama of the story. Wagnerian operas are known for being incredibly lengthy (usually 4-5 hours long) and having large, thick, colorful orchestration that only the most powerful voices can cut through. Wagner’s most famous operatic work is his epic Ring cycle (1876), which comprises four long and grand operas.



20TH CENTURY: MODERNISM Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde (1865) is generally considered the first step towards modernism. In its famous opening, music seems to drift away from tonality — the musical idiom that had dominated the language of music for centuries; tonality imposes a hierarchical structure on all notes in music with the tonic or the “home note” being the most important, central base. Inspired by Wagner’s deviation from the tonal center, the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg decided to abandon tonality completely, emancipating all notes from their tonal hierarchy and creating a new genre called atonal music. Alban Berg, one of Schoenberg’s pupils, brought the new language of atonality into the world of opera, using a haunting, expressionist sound to depict the deeply disturbed Freudean psyches of his characters. His operatic works Wozzeck (1925) and Lulu (1935) are the most famous of the genre. After World War II, the Western Classical music world no longer had a prominent leading musical idiom. Instead, composers sought to further explore the boundaries of music and sound in their own unique ways resulting in numerous avant-garde movements such as serialism, minimalism, electronic music, and chance music. In America, while certain composers such as John Cage, Phillip Glass and John Adams continued to experiment with European modernism, other composers sought a more unique American sound. George Gershwin achieved this by incorporating African-American music into his famous opera Porgy and Bess (1935), which is perhaps best known to us for its popular aria Summertime. Other composers such as Leonard Bernstein continued to blur the line between opera and popular entertainment, writing the highly entertaining operetta Candide (1956) as well as one of America’s most cherished musical dramas West Side Story.

OPERA TODAY The culture of opera and its place in society has significantly changed over the past 50 years. Opera is viewed by some as a genre of the past, but it remains a vibrant and evolving art-form. Present-day composers, musicians, singers, directors, operagoers, and devotees endeavor to keep opera alive and fresh by producing not only masterworks from the past but also new contemporary operas that grapple with various political and social issues from modern-day society. Opera houses also now play a central role in determining the trajectory of opera’s future by being the prime commissioner of new operas. Many opera companies also make bold artistic choices in their productions of traditional operas, making them not only more interesting but also more relevant and relatable for the modern audience.

Scenes from the 2011 production of The Emperor of Atlantis, or Death Quits, 2012 production of The Lighthouse, 2013 production of The Magic Flute. Photos by Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera.


WHAT IS SOUND? Sound is a form of energy. It can be generated, moved, do work, dissipate over time and distance, and carry tremendous amounts of energy. Sound will continue only as long as there is energy in the system to keep it going. Sound is defined as something that can be heard. It is a wave and is a series of vibrations traveling through a medium, especially those within the range of frequencies that can be perceived by the human ear. Sound can travel through many types of mediums, for example: air, liquids and solids. The compressions and rarefactions that move through the atmosphere are compressing and stretching the molecules of nitrogen and oxygen all around us. Sound cannot be heard in a vacuum, like outer space.

WHAT IS HEARING? Unlike the senses of smell or taste, which rely on chemical interactions, hearing is a mechanical process in which the ear converts sound waves entering the ear into electrical signals the brain can understand. The process of hearing begins with sound. An object produces sound when it vibrates in matter. This could be through something solid, liquid, or gaseous. Humans mostly hear sound that travels through the air. For example, when a bell is struck, it vibrates. This vibration is actually the metal flexing in and out. This physically moves the air particles next to the metal. Those particles, in turn, move the particles next to them and so on. In this way, the vibration moves through the air.

HOW YOU HEAR To hear the sound traveling through the air, three things have to happen. 1. The sound has to be directed into the hearing part of the ear. 2. The ear has to sense the fluctuations in air pressure. 3. The fluctuations have to be translated into electrical signals that the brain can understand. The pinna, or outer/visible part of the ear, catches the sound waves. In humans, the pinna is pointed forward. It helps to determine where the sound is coming from. The direction of the sound is determined by the way the sound wave bounces off the pinna. The brain can distinguish the subtleties in the sound reflection and tell where the sound came from. The horizontal position of the sound is determined by comparing the information from both ears. If a sound is coming from your right, it will enter your right ear slightly sooner than your left and will be slightly louder. Humans cannot really focus in on a sound because the pinnae do not move. Some mammals, such as dogs, have large movable pinnae and so can focus in on a sound.

HOW THE VOICE WORKS Singing is actually a simple mechanical process. Here’s what’s happening in your body that allows you to produce sound to talk and sing: BREATH — Breathe in through your nose to take air into your lungs. You’d be surprised at just how much air you can take in. Place your hands at the bottom of your rib cage — your lungs extend all the way from the top of your rib cage near the collar bones to the very bottom. EXERCISE: Singing uses your whole body, and so it’s really important for singers to be fit and have good posture. Try this: while slouching with bad posture, take in a long, slow and steady breath, and then hold your breath. See how long you can hold it. Now, standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, your spine stretched, and your hands by your side, do the same thing. Did your posture affect the way you breathe?


HOW THE VOICE WORKS VIBRATION — As you breathe out, the air passes through your voice box called a larynx (Lair-inks) where pitches are made. You can see this bump best on grown men known as the Adam’s apple. You can feel your own larynx by lifting your chin and gently feeling along the front of your neck. Around the middle, you should feel a slight bump. Keeping your hand there, try swallowing and feel the larynx move. The larynx is home to tiny muscles known as the vocal folds. The air rushing over the muscles creates a “buzz” that travels up into the mouth. ARTICULATION — As the air comes out, it passes by three articulators – tongue, lips, and the soft palate. If you slide your tongue along the roof of your mouth, about halfway back, it gets softer. This soft palate can be raised and lowered. Can you raise your soft palate? Here’s a tip — think about yawning. The secret to good operatic singing is keeping your soft palate up!

DIFFERENT VOICE TYPES Voices come in all shapes and sizes. To make it easier for singers and casting directors, voices are placed into different categories. There are several main categories for men’s and women’s voices. Determining whether someone is a soprano or a mezzo-soprano, or a tenor or baritone depends on the range, which is called the tessitura, and the timbre of the singer’s voice; Timbre (tam-ber) refers to the tone of the voice, and tessitura (tess-eh-Too-rah) refers to the distance from the highest note to the lowest note a singer can produce. Tenors and sopranos will be able to sing high notes more comfortably than baritones and mezzo-sopranos, while baritones and mezzo-sopranos will be more comfortable on lower notes. SOPRANO (suh-PRAN-oh): The soprano is the highest female voice. Sopranos typically play leading ladies. At the end of the opera, you can often expect the soprano character to get married or die, depending on whether the opera is a comedy or a tragedy. Range: C4-C6. Famous roles: Cio-Cio San, Madama Butterfly, Puccini, and Fiordiligi, Così Fan Tutte, Mozart. Try listening to… “Der Hoelle Rache” from The Magic Flute. MEZZO-SOPRANO (MET-soh-suh-PRAN-oh): middle-low range female voice. Mezzo-sopranos are usually cast as sultry women, evil witches, or sometimes even young men. They play characters that suit their earthy voices and are often the supporting roles in operas, though not always. Carmen is a famous opera with a mezzo-soprano main character. Range: A3-A5. Famous roles: Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart, and Dorabella, Così Fan Tutte, Mozart. Try listening to… “Habanera”, from Carmen. TENOR (TEN-er): A high male voice. Tenors typically sing leading male roles. They are usually the heroes of the story. Tenor characters are often the love interest of the soprano characters. Range: C3-C5. Famous roles: Tamino, The Magic Flute, Mozart and The Duke, Rigoletto, Verdi. Try listening to… “La Donna e Mobile”, from Rigoletto. BARITONE (BAIR-ih-tohn): A middle-range male voice. Baritones are known for their rich tone in the middle of their range. In comic operas they often play humorous characters, but in serious, dramatic operas, they are often cast as the villain. Range: F2-F4. Famous roles for baritones: Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Rossini and Papageno, The Magic Flute, Mozart. Try listening to… “Largo al Factotum”, from The Barber of Seville.

With contributions from the Museum of Science, Boston.


ARTISTIC STATEMENT AND SYNOPSIS I Puritani is set in the Puritan fortress at Plymouth during the English Civil War. The Puritans, led by Oliver Cromwell, have inflicted a crushing defeat on troops loyal to Charles I (the Cavaliers) and taken parliamentary power. Although the King has been tried and executed (his widow, Henrietta, plays a significant role in the opera) the Cavaliers fight on. But the main thrust of the opera lies not to so much this specific historical context but in its dramatic and expressively poignant music and its vivid psychological study of an emotionally vulnerable woman physically and mentally isolated within a rigidly militaristic world of men. She is caught up, with them, in the brutalizing confusion and chaos of a civil war that can destroy the passions of the heart. I Puritani was written in three acts—the BLO production will be played in two parts with one intermission.

ACT I: Gualtiero (Lord Walter Walton) defends his Puritan fortress in Plymouth in the midst of the English Civil Wars of the mid 1600s. He plans to wed his daughter, Elvira, to the puritan colonel, Riccardo (Lord Richard Froth), but Elvira loves another. Riccardo despairs when he discovers that Elvira loves a Royalist, Arturo (Lord Arthur Talbot), a rival both in love and war. Elvira’s uncle, Giorgio (Sir George Walton), is like a father to her and sympathizes with her love for Arturo. Giorgio has convinced her father to consent to the marriage of Elvira. Arturo arrives and learns that Queen Henrietta is being held captive in the fortress. Though it pains him, Arturo decides he must rescue the Queen, and using Elvira’s bridal veil, he smuggles her out. Before they escape Riccardo catches them and, thinking Henrietta is Elvira, challenges him. The Queen reveals herself and Riccardo lets them escape, as he knows it will be Arturo’s downfall. Riccardo tells the citizens of the fortress of Arturo’s escape and Elvira is driven mad by the betrayal. ACT II: The people mourn Elvira’s misfortune and her pitiful state. Riccardo announces that Arturo is to be executed. Elvira wanders and hallucinates in her madness. Giorgio implores Riccardo to save Arturo for Elvira’s sake. Though at first Riccardo angrily rejects the idea of saving his rival, he is eventually moved to help save him out of pity for Elvira. ACT III: Arturo returns to Plymouth to assure Elvira of his love. He calls to her from her garden and the two are reunited. Soldiers rush to arrest Arturo, but, diplomats arrive just in time to announce Oliver Cromwell’s victory and amnesty for all prisoners. The sudden return to peace and happiness restores Elvira’s sanity and the couple embrace and celebrate their good fortune.


PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS GUALTIERO (LORD WALTER WALTON): Governor and General of a Puritan fortress in Plymouth, where the action of the opera takes place. Father of Elvira. ELVIRA: Gualtiero’s Puritan daughter who loves the Royalist sympathizer, Arturo (Lord Arthur Talbot). GIORGIO (SIR GEORGE WALTON): Gualtiero’s brother. Giorgio is Elvira’s uncle, but acts as a second father to her and convinces her father to bless her marriage to Arturo. ARTURO (LORD ARTHUR TALBOT): A Royalist who loves Elvira. RICCARDO (LORD RICHARD FROTH): A Puritan colonel who loves Elvira and hates Arturo not only as a political rival, but a rival for Elvira’s hand in marriage. HENRIETTA: The queen and widow of King Charles I, who is being held captive in Gualtiero’s fortress. The names of the characters are how they are sung in Italian during the opera, the parenthetical names are their full English titles.

Costume design by Catherine Zuber


BIOGRAPHY: VINCENZO BELLINI Vincenzo Bellini, one the most celebrated bel canto composers, died at the young age of 33. His short, but productive career, yielded ten operas, many of which are still performed regularly. He was born into a musical family in Catania, Italy, in 1801. Bellini’s musical training began incredibly early at the age of two. His father schooled him in music theory and piano, and by the age of six, Bellini was well-versed in piano playing and had begun to write compositions of his own. His grandfather continued to cultivate Bellini’s composition skills and in 1819, Bellini was admitted to the music conservatory in Naples. While at the conservatory, Bellini developed an immense admiration for his Classical predecessors Haydn and Mozart, but as an avid opera-goer, he absorbed aspects of the bel canto style of his contemporaries, Rossini and Donizetti. Due to the success of his first opera and final work during his years at the conservatory, Adelson e Salvini, Bellini was in high demand after his graduation. In 1827, only two years after the premiere of his first opera, Bellini was commissioned by Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala, to write an opera. The La Scala premiere of Il Pirata marked not only Bellini’s rise to international success, but also the beginning of his collaboration with librettist Felice Romani, who authored librettos for seven of Bellini’s ten operas, and rewrote the libretto for one of his earlier works, Bianca e Gernando. As Bellini’s style matured and popularity grew, his operas met more and more international success. In the summer of 1833, Bellini made a trip to London to direct performances of his operas and began negotiations for his operas to be performed in Paris; however, the process was slow and frustrating and led to a commission by the Théâtre Italien, but not the Paris Opera. Bellini, for the first time since 1827, did not collaborate with Romani for the libretto of I Puritani due to a temporary falling out over missed deadlines for the opera Beatrice di Tenda. His collaboration with Bolognese poet and exile, Carlo Pepoli, is thought by many to have been the downfall of this otherwise masterful work. Libretto aside, I Puritani was a massive success and later that year, in the midst of his blossoming success, Bellini died of intestinal failure at the young age of 33.

BELLINI AND PEPOLI After a falling out with longtime artistic partner, Felice Romani, Bellini turned to the Bolognese poet and political exile, Carlo Pepoli to write the libretto for what would be his final work, I Puritani. Pepoli’s contribution has gone down in history in a less than favorable light. Today, many view Pepoli’s libretto as the flaw to what would otherwise be Bellini’s masterpiece, but at its premiere in 1834 it went seemingly unnoticed. Although fairly uncomfortable with the political vigor of Pepoli’s text, Bellini seemed assured that the Italian libretto would be of less importance to the French audience than his score. Bellini suspected that the nationalistic fervor (which was more relevant to Pepoli’s revolutionary agenda in Italy than the English Civil War), would lead to the opera’s censorship in Italy. Bellini requested rewrites from Pepoli, but ultimately had less authority over the text than with his longtime collaborator, Romani. Bellini’s untimely death left it unclear whether or not he intended to continue collaborating with Pepoli or return to his former librettist, Romani.


THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR Years of political, religious, and social unrest in 17th century Britain culminated in conflict that would become the English Civil War. One of the major catalysts leading up to the war was the Scottish revolt against King Charles I’s religious reforms in 1639. In an attempt to quell the Scottish rebellion, Charles I strained political matters further, by appealing to Parliament, which he had long been seeking to deprive of political power. Charles I found no aid in Parliament and suffered a defeat in Scotland. Partly due to his marriage to Henrietta Maria of France, a known Catholic, Charles I was viewed with suspicion by many Protestants. Not only did many believe the Church of England did not go far enough in casting off the customs of Catholicism, but they felt his marriage to a Catholic made Charles I susceptible to increasing tolerance of Catholics. His religious revisions, which were poorly received in Scotland, only alarmed Protestants further. Charles I’s suspected Catholic sympathies, for some, had the adverse effect. Many repressed Catholics, particularly those in Ireland, came to fight as Royalists and uphold the Stuart monarchy. By 1642, war had broken out between the Parliamentarians and Royalists , but the reasons for fighting were not all political. The struggle over political power, class divisions, ethnic divisions and religious austerity drove many, while purely monetary incentives drove others. In the end, religion became a significant factor; because every member of society related to religion on an immediate and very personal level, it often had more influence on the common, less politically inclined people. The Parliamentarians became a party for zealous religious reformists, known as Puritans, while the Royalists were mostly moderate Protestants and suppressed Catholics. Both the Royalists and Parliamentarians appealed for foreign aid, and the Parliamentarians found it in Scotland. By 1646, the war was seemingly won by the Parliamentarians. Charles I, who had been imprisoned, was to be reduced to a constitutional monarch, but escaped captivity, and once more appealed for foreign aid. Charles I found support with the Scots as well, whose relationship with their former Parliamentarian allies was crumbling. The Scottish invasion was crushed by the Parliamentarian army led by Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, and Charles I was captured, and finally executed for treason in 1649. The execution of Charles I was devastating to his wife, Queen Henrietta, who had fled to France five years prior. Over the years the King had taken his Catholic wife into his confidence and greatly valued her opinion, despite the skepticism of his Protestant subjects. Even after her escape to France, Queen Henrietta avidly sought aid for the Royalists and to support her husband’s cause. After a period of mourning, Queen Henrietta continued to support the Royalist cause which was now headed by her son, Charles II. With the allegiance of the Scots, Charles II attacked the Parliamentarians, now under the command of Oliver Cromwell, in 1651 at the battle of Worcester. Charles II managed to flee, but Cromwell swiftly claimed victory and by 1653 was named Lord Protector. PURITANS: “Puritan” was a term that first came into use to describe Protestants who purify the Anglican Church of all vestiges of Catholicism. They did not believe in the robes and décor of Catholic ceremony, but rather a simplified way of worship that was localized and individual. Clergy were not important to Puritanism. They had localized preachers, but individual access to the Bible in one’s native language was crucial. Similar to Calvinism, Puritans believed in predetermination, or that one’s soul is already destined to heaven or hell regardless of one’s earthly actions; for that reason, Puritans placed an unwavering faith in God and recognized their complete dependence on him. The Puritans became prominent during the English Civil Wars because, as Charles I began to lean his sympathies towards Catholicism in the 1630s, suspicion caused Puritans to become more radical in their cause against Catholicism and the papacy. BOSTON LYRIC OPERA | 13


STAGE 1 – DESIRED RESULTS Content Standard(s): Reading Standard 5: Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter). Reading Standard 7: Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums, determining which details are emphasized in each account. Writing Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Understanding (s)/goals Students will understand: • How to compare the effectiveness of two different styles in conveying similar situations. •

Listening for musical devices that enhance the text.

Essential Question(s): • Which composer achieves the desired effect of the scene more convincingly? •

Which is more musically effective? Textually? Dramatically?

What devices are used to create these effects?

Student objectives (outcomes): Students will be able to: • Listen critically and better understand the inflection of the opera’s text. •

Support their opinion with both musical and textual evidence.

STAGE 2 – ASSESSMENT EVIDENCE Performance Task(s): • Familiarize students with scene contexts. •

Listen to a scene from Bellini’s I Puritani and a corresponding scene from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Compare and contrast the two as a class.


Other Evidence: • Gauge the students’ musical background and familiarity with opera.


STAGE 3 – LEARNING PLAN Learning Activities: Total time: 1-2 class periods Suggested Materials and Resources: Scene text and translations and scene descriptions (attached) Links to Youtube videos of arias: • Ah, Per Sempre Io Ti Perdei (Riccardo, I Puritani) <> • Tombe Degli Avi Miei (Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor) <> • Son Vergin Vezzosa (I Puritani) <> • Quando Rapito in Estasi (Lucia and Alisa, Lucia di Lammermoor) <> • Cinta di Fiori (Giorgio, I Puritani) <> • Dalle Stanze Ove Lucia (Riamondo, Lucia di Lammermoor) <> Introductory Activity: Background and Synopsis: (10 minutes) • Depending on the class’ familiarity with opera, give a brief overview. Focus on the bel canto period. (Materials included) • Briefly discuss what to listen for in the music: Think about speed, vocal range, voice type, predictability, instruments heard, etc. Developmental Activities: Scene overview and Listening Activity: (1-2 class periods) • Before playing excerpts, give a brief summary of the scene and discuss what kind of a mood this kind of scene would aim for. Have students give ideas as to what they might expect to hear. • Have students listen to a scene from I Puritani and take notes on what they think Bellini has done effectively, what devices they can identify (use of tempo, articulation, etc.), and whether or not the overall mood of the scene was achieved. • Afterwards listen to the corresponding scene from Lucia di Lammermoor and compare the styles of the two scenes. Scene groupings: • Ah, Per Sempre Io Ti Perdei from I Puritani and Tombe Degli Avi Miei from Lucia di Lammermoor. • Son Vergin Vezzosa from I Puritani and Quando Rapito in Estasi from Lucia di Lammermoor. • Cinta di Fiori from I Puritani and Dalle Stanze Ove Lucia from Lucia di Lammermoor. Closing Activity: Writing activity: (outside of class) • Have students sum up their thoughts in a comparative essay. Have them answer the prompt: “Which composer do you think achieved their target mood most effectively? Use evidence from at least one set of scenes to defend your position.”



STAGE 1 – DESIRED RESULTS Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama using a variety of critical lenses (e.g., formal, psychological, historical, sociological, feminist). Reading Standard 6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text. Writing Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Understanding (s)/goals Students will understand: • How to compare two similar scenes for their individual qualities.

Essential Question(s): • What do mad scenes say about societal beliefs and the author/composer’s biases?

How to draw connections between works by different authors or composers.

What kinds of differences can be seen between male and female mad scenes?

How to understand social ideals through works of art and literature.

Is there a gender bias in mad scenes?

How to conduct thorough research and apply research to their writing.

What do these mad scenes insinuate about men and women?

How to support their arguments with research and evidence from the work being examined.

Do you find the music more lyrical or aggressive in certain scenarios? What effect does it have?

Student objectives (outcomes): Students will be able to: • Recognize patterns across multiple artistic works. •

Draw conclusions about the psychological mindsets of audiences of the work’s time period.

Articulate and support their claims.



STAGE 2 – ASSESSMENT EVIDENCE Performance Task(s): • Watch Elvira’s mad scene from I Puritani. •

Brainstorm and discuss any related mad scenes that students are aware of (possibly Shakespearian characters: Ophelia, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and, one could argue, Juliet).

Research Elvira’s mad scene from I Puritani and chose a complementing or contrasting mad scene to analyze with it.

Write a research paper presenting complex analysis and well-supported arguments about mad scenes.

Other Evidence: • Evaluate students’ understanding of historical ideas. •

Make student aware of research databases and resources.

Gauge students’ experience with developing complex paper ideas.

STAGE 3 – LEARNING PLAN Learning Activities: Total time: 4-6 class periods Suggested Materials and Resources: • Elvira’s mad scene from I Puritani <> • Similar mad scenes: Lucia’s mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor <>, Ophelia’s mad scene from Thomas’ Hamlet (part 1 - (part 2 - (part 3 - • Male mad scenes: Macbeth’s mad scene from Verdi’s Macbeth <>, Nabucco’s mad scene from Verdi’s Nabucco <>, and Boris’ mad scene from Boris’ Godunov <>. Introductory Activity: Watch and Discuss: (1 class period) • Briefly discuss the context and synopsis of the opera and watch Elvira’s mad scene. • As a class brainstorm on mad scenes students have encountered in music and literature and how they are similar or different. Discuss any trends in female vs. male mad scenes, madness of love vs. madness of guilt, and/or differences in the style of a mad scene (from a musical or literary perspective) over the centuries. Developmental Activity: Research and Writing: (2-4 class periods) • Have students research Elvira’s mad scene from I Puritani. As they research have them keep in mind the class brainstorm. (1 class period) • Share findings and points of interest in class. Have each student choose a second mad scene and narrow their scope for a focused research paper. (1 class period) • Have students write a paper using evidence from their two mad scenes to support an assertion about a larger societal issue. Students can chose either a scene similar to Elvira’s situation (ex: a female mad scene or character who regains their senses) or a contrasting scene (ex: a male mad scene, or a story that ends tragically). Research directions can include: Madness and gender views, psychological beliefs of the time, changing societal opinions on madness, etc. Use the mad scenes’ similarities and differences to understand why the composer or author chose to portray the character the way they did.(at home, and optional class time for research and teacher meetings). Closing Activity: Presentations: (One class period) • Have students give a presentation of their research papers.

ITALIAN AND ENGLISH TEXT RICCARDO, I PURITANI Ah, per sempre io te perdei, fior d’amore, o mia speranza; Ah! La vita che m’avanza sarà piena di dolor! Quando errai per anni ed anni in poter della ventura, io sfidai sciagura e affanni nella speme del tuo amor.

RICCARDO, I PURITANI Ah, to me forever lost now, flower of love and hope the dearest! Life! To me, thou now appearest Gloomy and with tempests cross’d. Year by year, as wild I wander’d, By the whirl of fateful changes toss’d, To no torture did I bow, For hope would cheer me though banish’d now.

Bel sogno beato, di pace e contento, o cangia il mio fato, o cangia il mio cor. Oh! Come è tormento nel dì del dolore, la dolce memoria d’un tenero amor.

Oh, happy and lovely dream Of peace and joy! Oh, change thou my fate, Or change my heart! Oh! What keen torment in the day of grief, Becomes the memory of all vanish’d love.

EDGARDO, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR Tombe degli avi miei, l’ultimo avanzo d’una stirpe infelice, deh! raccogliete voi. Cessò dell’ira il breve foco sul nemico acciaro abbandonar mi vo! Per me la vita è orrendo peso! l’universo intero è un deserto per me senza Lucia!

EDGARDO, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR Tombs of my fathers, last son of an unhappy race, receive me, I implore you. My anger’s brief fire is quenched...I will fall on my foe’s sword. For me, life is a horrible burden! The whole universe is a desert for me without Lucia!

Di faci tuttavia splende il castello Ah! scarsa fu la notte al tripudio! Ingrata donna! mentr’io mi struggo in disperato pianto, tu ridi, esulti accanto al felice consorte! Tu della gioie in seno, tu della gioie in seno, io della morte! Fra poco a me ricovero darà negletto avello, una pietosa lagrima non scenderà su quello! ah! fin degli estinti, ahi misero! manca il conforto a me. Tu pur, tu pur dimentica quel marmo dispregiato: Mai non passarvi, o Barbara del tuo consorte a lato. Ah! rispetta almen le ceneri di chi moria per te, rispetta almen le ceneri di chi moria per te! Mai non passarvi, tulo dimentica, rispetta almeno chi muore per te, mai non passarvi, tulo dimentica, rispetta almeno chi muore, chi muore per te, o barbara, io moro per te! 18 | I PURITANI

Yet the castle gleams with torches...Ah, the night was too short for the revels! Heartless jade! While I pine away in hopeless tears, you laugh and gloat by your happy consort’s side! You amid joys, I near to death! Soon this neglected tomb will give me refuge. A compassionate tear will not fall upon it...ah! Alas, for wretched me not even the solace of the dead. You too, forget that despised marble tombstone! Never visit it, o cruel one, by your husband’s side. Ah, respect at least the ashes of him who dies for you, Ah, respect at least the ashes of him who dies for you! Never visit it, o cruel one, by your husband’s side. Ah, respect at least the ashes of him who dies for you, Ah, respect at least the ashes of him who dies for you!



ELVIRA Son vergin vezzosa In vesta di sposa; Son bianca ed umile Qual giglio d’april; Ho chiome odorose Cui cinser tue rose; Ho il seno gentile Del tuo monil.

ELVIRA I am a blithesome maiden, Bridal price array’d in, Like lily pure and white, That looks up in April light; Ah, fragrant is my hair, With rose odors scatter’d there, And on my heaving breast The pearls as spotless rest.

ENRICHETTA, ARTURO Se miro il suo candore, Mi par la luna allor Che tra le nubi appare La notte a consolar.

HENRIETTA, ARTURO Her frankness shines before me, Like moonbeams which restore me, Through clouds that darken o’er me, Calm gladness of the night.

GIORGIO Se ascolto il suo cantare Un rosignuol mi par, Che insegni al primo albore A sospirar d’amor.

GIORGIO And when her voice steals on me, An angel’s tongue has won me, An angel who above hymns the supernal love,when day is dawning bright.

ELVIRA (ad Enrichetta) Dama, s’è ver che m’ami ...

ELVIRA (to Henrietta) Lady, if you love me truly

ENRICHETTA Dimmi, o gentil, che brami?

HENRIETTA Speak, what is your wish ?

ELVIRA Qual mattutina stella Bella vogl’io brillar: Del crin le molli anella Mi giova ad aggraziar.

ELVIRA Oh, I would shine as brightly As the morning star ! Ah ! touch these tresses lightly, I wish to grace my hair.

ENRICHETTA Sì, son presta al tuo pregar Diletta fanciulletta, son presta, Son presta al tuo pregar, O vera Dea d’april.

HENRIETTA Elvira, my delight, how gladly I obey! In your pleasant sporting I am pleas’d to share.

ELVIRA A illegiadrir la prova, Deh! non aver a vil Il velo in foggia nuova Sul capo tuo gentil.

ELVIRA Ah, if my effort fail now, Do not the action scorn ! With what a grace the veil Might be in this way worn !

ARTURO Sull’ali della vita Comminicia ora volar

ARTURO On the wings of life she begins now to fly.


ITALIAN AND ENGLISH TEXT ARTURO, GIORGIO Deh! scusa e tu l’aita Nel semplice aleggiar Ti presta al suo pregar; Se miro il suo candor Mi par la luna allor Che tra le nubi appar, La notte a consolar.

ARTURO, GIORGIO A child with spirits innocent, How natural her play ! You will look indulgent On her frolic gay. I think I see the moon now through the clouds appearing, To console the night.

ELVIRA, ENRICHETTA, ARTURO, GIORGIO Sì, sì, sì! (Elvira pone il velo sul capo d’Enrichetta.)

ELVIRA, ENRICHETTA, ARTURO, GIORGIO Yes, yes, yes! (Elvira puts the veil over Enrichetta’s head)

ELVIRA O bella, ti celo Le anella del crin, Com’io nel bel velo Mi voglio celar. Ascosa vezzosa Nel velo divin Or sembri la sposa Che vassi all’altar.

ELVIRA In this veil I hide, Sweet one, your fine hair-As I would e’en myself dear, Be closely hidden there. And with his veil so lovely, O’er thy beauties flowing, Thou’lt seem the chosen bride, To the holy altar going.

ENRICHETTA (a se) Ascosa dentro il vel, Or posso almen celar L’affanno, il palpitar, L’angoscia del mio cor! Deh! tu, pietoso ciel, Raccogli con favor La prece ch’oso a te levar!

ENRICHETTA (to herself) Now hidden in this veil, Unseen by other eyes The cares upon my face are graven The tortur’d bosom sighs; And most pitying heaven, Receive indulgently The prayer which in my grief I offer up to thee!

ARTURO (a se) O! come da quel vel Che le nasconde il crin Veggio un splendor divin Di speme a balenar. Deh! tu, pietoso ciel, M’accorda il tuo favor La vittima salvar!

ARTURO (to himself) Oh! Yes! From the veil That is her beauty’s prison, Rays of joyful gladdening hopes Within my heart have ris’n. Be thou propitious, Heav’n! And lend me gracious aid. That she, the destined victim, now Oppression may evade!

GIORGIO Elvira col suo vel Un zeffiretto appar, Un’iride sul mar, Un silfo in grembo ai fior. T’arrida, o cara, il ciel Col roseo suo favor, Tal ch’io ti vegga ognor gioir.

GIORGIO Elvira with her veil Comes shining like a zephyr, Like a rainbow o’er the sea, Or a sylph amid the flowers. May Heaven still look on thee With richest rosiest smiles! And may ever thee behold In mirth and harmless wiles.


ITALIAN AND ENGLISH TEXT VALTON, CASTELLANI, CASTELLANE (di dentro) Elvira, Elvira, il dì, l’ora, avanza!

VALTON, RESIDENTS OF THE FORTRESS Elvira, Elvira, the day and hour approach!

ELVIRA Ah! se il padre s’adira Io volo a mia stanza

ELVIRA If my father is angry, In my room I’ll conceal me;

GIORGIO Deh! riedi a tua stanza;

GIORGIO In thy room, then, conceal thee;

HENRICHETTA Sarà il tuo fedele Che t’orni del vel.

HENRICHETTA And thither your lover To veil thee will come.

ELVIRA Ah! poscia, o fedel, Tu posami il vel, ah! Mi posa il vel.

ELVIRA But then, thou, of dearest, To veil me will come?



LUCIA Egli è luce a’ giorni miei, E conforto al mio penar Quando rapito in estasi Del più cocente amore, Col favellar del core Mi giura eterna fe’; Gli affanni miei dimentico, Gioia diviene il pianto... Parmi che a lui d’accanto Si schiuda il ciel per me!

LUCIA He brings light to my days, and solace to my suffering. When, lost in ecstasy of ardent passion, with the language of the heart, he swears eternal love, I forget my sorrows and joy dries my tears, and it seems that when I am near him, heaven opens for me!

ALISA Giorni d’amaro pianto Si apprestano per te! Ah! Lucia, Lucia desisti!

ALISA Ah, days of bitter weeping are in store for you! Ah, Lucia, give him up.

LUCIA Quando rapito in estasi… etc.

LUCIA Ah...When, lost in ecstasy, etc.



GIORGIO Ebben, se volete, v’appressate. Cinta di fiori e col bel crin disciolto Talor la cara vergine s’aggira, E chiede all’aura, ai fior con mesto volto: “Ove andò Elvira? Ove andò? Ove andò?”

GIORGIO I will grand you your wish. Approach. Roses enwreath’d around disordered hair, Now roams a wanderer the maiden fair ; With looks all sadness, of the flowers asking, ‘Where is Elvira ? where is Elvira P’

Bianco-vestita, e qual se all’ara innante Adempie il rito, e va cantando : il giuro : Poi grida per amor tutta tremante:

Then clad in white, as at the altar standing, The rites performing, the vow now uttered, She cries aloud, her spirit passion fluttered, BOSTON LYRIC OPERA | 21

ITALIAN AND ENGLISH TEXT “Ah vieni, Arturo!” Geme talor qual tortora amorosa, Or cade vinta da mortal sudore, Or l’odi, al suon dell’arpa lamentosa, Cantar d’amore. Or scorge Arturo nell’altrui sembiante, Poi del suo inganno accorta, e di sua sorte, Geme, piange, s’affanna e ognor più amante, Invoca morte.

‘Come to me, Arthur oh, come to me !’ At times she sigheth like the amorous dove, Or in her sorrow’s great oppression sinketh ; Or with her harp she sings sad songs Of love she singeth ! Sometimes she sees her Arthur in another, Then feels at once her error and her fate, Sighs, weeps, love growing yet more great ; Woe, and yet mightier passion, leave no other Desire than death !



RAIMONDO Dalle stanze ove Lucia Trassi già col suo consorte, Un lamento... un grido uscia Come d’uom vicino a morte! Corsi ratto in quelle mura... Ahi! terribile sciagura! Steso Arturo al suol giaceva Muto freddo insanguinato!... E Lucia l’acciar stringeva, Che fu già del trucidato!...

RAIMONDO From the apartments where I had left Lucia with her husband, came a moan, a cry, as from a man in his death-throes! I ran into the room. Oh, what a terrible calamity! Arturo was lying on the floor, mute, cold, covered with blood! And Lucia was clutching a dagger which belonged to the murdered man!

Ella in me le luci affisse... “Il mio sposo ov’è?” mi disse: E nel volto suo pallente Un sorriso balenò! Infelice! della mente La virtude a lei mancò!

She fixed her eyes on me. “Where is my husband?” she asked me, and a smile flitted across her pallid face! Unhappy girl! She had lost her reason.

TUTTI Oh! qual funesto avvenimento!... Tutti ne ingombra cupo spavento! Notte, ricopri la ria sventura Col tenebroso tuo denso vel. Ah! quella destra di sangue impura L’ira non chiami su noi del ciel. –

CHORUS Oh, what a tragedy! A numb terror paralyses us all! O night, shroud the cruel mishap with your dense, sombre veil. Ah, may the blood-smirched hand not bring upon us Heaven’s wrath.

Sources: Pepoli, Carlo, and Vincenzo Bellini. I Puritani, a Grand Opera, with an English Version. London: Middleton, 1877. Print. Cammarano, Salvadore. “Lucia Di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti. DM’s Opera Site. Trans. Gwyn Morris. Web. <>.


WHAT TO LISTEN FOR Ah, Per Sempre Io Ti Perdei: This aria is sung by the Puritan colonel, Riccardo, after realizing that Elvira does not love him. Elvira’s father has promised her to Riccardo if she is willing, but Elvira loves a political rival, Arturo. Tombe Degli Avi Miei: At the beginning of the opera, Lucia and Edgardo pledged their love to each other and Edgardo left the country and promised to return. When Lucia’s brother finds out that she is in love with a rival of the family, he tricks her into marrying a political ally by convincing Lucia that Edgardo has been unfaithful. Once Edgardo finds out that Lucia has married another he curses her. In this aria, Edgardo, who does not know of Lucia’s madness and demise, reflects bitterly on his misfortune and her happiness. LISTENING QUESTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS: • What effect does the voice type have on the mood? (The first is sung by a baritone and the second by a tenor.) •

Does one sound more aggressive than the other? Why? Instrumentation? Speed? Rhythm?

Is one more melodious than the other? Does that help or detract from the emotion being portrayed?

Son Vergin Vezzosa: Elvira prepares blissfully for her wedding with Arturo. She has Henrichetta (who she thinks is only a servant, not the queen) try on her bridal veil. Arturo is torn between his love for Elvira and his duty to save the Queen. Quando Rapito in Estasi: Lucia sings of her love for Edgardo. Her maid, Alisa, warns her that her hidden love is dangerous and will end in disaster. Lucia is so elated, she ignores Alisa’s warnings. LISTENING QUESTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS: • At this moment, both Elvira and Lucia are at the height of their happiness. How do the composers convey happiness? (Think about tempo, “showiness” of the vocal line, how many singers there are, sudden dynamic or speed changes.) •

Are there moments that foreshadow the unhappy fate of the women?

How does a large ensemble, such as in Son Vergin Vezzosa , change the mood?

Cinta di Fiori: This aria is sung by Elvira’s uncle. He tells the people of the fortress of Elvira’s fall to madness and mourns her pain. Dalle Stanze Ove Lucia: Riamondo, the priest who wed Lucia, narrates his encounter with Lucia after she has lost her mind and killed her husband, Arturo. LISTENING QUESTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS: • Though sung by the same voice type, what differentiates these arias the most? •

Do you think a deeper voice type conveys sadness and pity better than a higher voice would?

Pay attention to sudden dynamic changes (changes in volume and emphasis).

What effect does the interjecting chorus have ?


MAD SCENES There is a common thread throughout the arts, but in opera particularly: women gone mad for love. Opera is filled with electrifying mad scenes; three of the most famous and musically stunning mad scenes come from Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani, Ophelia in Thomas’ Hamlet, and Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Madness in opera is not always portrayed by women, but many of the operas with male mad scenes, particularly during the bel canto era, were lost in the long shadow cast by the virtuosity of the high soprano mad scenes. The ethereal and delicate sound a high soprano is capable of made them musically ideal for the pitiable madness of love. The enduring male mad scenes tend to be induced by guilt or vengeance rather than love. Though it implies the innocence of women, it also implies a certain feebleness. This stereotypical madness reinforces the 19th century belief that women were mentally more fragile than men and therefore more susceptible to madness. It was still the social norm of the 19th century to teach women obedience, social discretion, and dependence on male figures. Marrying, and then supporting, her husband was a woman’s accepted role in society. In I Puritani, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Hamlet the female protagonists are all brides-to-be who are suddenly betrayed (or so they believe) by their fiancés. The 19th century audience observing these works might have found these women’s progressions into madness much more believable than a 21st century audience, and perhaps even logical. In 1868, Ambroise Thomas adapted Shakespeare’s celebrated masterpiece, Hamlet, for opera. A notable change and high point of the opera is Ophelia’s lengthy mad scene just before her suicide. Ophelia is seen wandering and singing of trivialities in the original play, but Thomas’ opera brings Ophelia’s tragedy to the stage with some of the most riveting music of the opera for almost the entire fourth act. I Puritani and Lucia di Lammermoor are both set in Great Britain during the 17th century. In the case of Elvira in I Puritani, she believes her betrothed (Arturo) has escaped with another woman after he promises to marry her. The circumstances of this opera are questionable, as women in Puritan society had little freedom, and more generally, Puritans were staunchly opposed to Royalists. It is doubtful that Elvira’s affection for a Royalist would have been heeded at all. The case of Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor is a little more credible. Her love with a political rival (Edgardo) has been kept secret from her family. Once her brother uncovers the truth, he tricks Lucia into marrying an ally by presenting forged evidence that Edgardo loves another. As she weds Arturo, Edgardo appears and curses her. Her love’s curse and her brother’s betrayal cause her to lose her sanity; unlike Elvira of I Puritani, however, neither Lucia nor Ophelia regain their sanity for a happy ending. Costume design by Catherine Zuber



STAGE 1 – DESIRED RESULTS Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Relate a work of fiction, poetry, or drama to the seminal ideas of its time. Reading Standard 8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning. Writing Standard 1: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. Writing Standard 4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Understanding (s)/goals Students will understand: • How to evaluate a work for historical accuracy.

Essential Question(s): • What were Puritan beliefs? •

What were relationships between Royalists and Puritans like in the 1600s?

How to analyze a work from a certain historic mindset.

How to write creatively and logically from a new perspective.

What do you think would have been a logical reaction from Gualtiero to the news that Elvira was in love with a Royalist/ from Elvira to the news that Arturo has betrayed her, etc., considering the beliefs of the time?

Are Puritans in I Puritani portrayed in a favorable or unfavorable light?

Do you think the characters in the opera embodied Puritan beliefs?As a Puritan, would you have felt accurately portrayed by Bellini’s I Puritani?

Student objectives (outcomes): Students will be able to: • Use historical research to analyze a work of fiction. •

Put themselves in the mindset of a different time period and write convincingly from this perspective.



STAGE 2 – ASSESSMENT EVIDENCE Performance Task(s): • Discuss the English Civil War and Puritan beliefs. •

Watch BLO’s production of I Puritani with the discussed historical context in mind.

Write a critique of the performance from the perspective of an English Puritan of the 17th century.

Other Evidence: • Ensure that students have a thorough understanding of Puritan ideals. •

Evaluate/gauge students’ experience with writing from different perspectives.

STAGE 3 – LEARNING PLAN Learning Activities: Total time: 2-3 class periods Introductory Activity: Discussion Activity: (One class period) • Discuss the historical background of I Puritani, including the English Civil Wars, the history of Puritanism, and Puritan beliefs. Developmental Activity: Watch I Puritani and creative critique writing: (Outside of class) • Attend Boston Lyric Opera’s dress rehearsal of I Puritani. Have students analyze the opera from the mindset of a 17th century Puritan living in England. Students should take notes and keep the following questions in mind: 1. Which characters and/or scenes do you think adhere believably to Puritan beliefs? Which do not? 2. As a Puritan, do you feel accurately portrayed by Bellini’s I Puritani? 3. What do you think could have made the plot more believable? 4. How were Puritans portrayed in the opera? Favorably? Unfavorably? Strongly? Mercifully? Do you think this is an accurate portrayal? •

Write a critique on Bellini’s I Puritani from the first-person perspective of a Puritan of the 17th century. Use some of the aforementioned questions as guidelines. (At home assignment or in class)

Closing Activity: Discussion and Sharing Activity: (One class period) • As a class, discuss the different observations and views students addressed in their narratives. Break into small groups and have students discuss contrasting opinions.



STAGE 1 – DESIRED RESULTS Content Standard(s): Reading Standard MA.8.A: Analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama using a variety of critical lenses (e.g., formal, psychological, historical, sociological, feminist). Reading Standard 6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text. Writing Standard 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Understanding (s)/goals Students will understand: • How to evaluate a work for historical accuracy.

Essential Question(s): • What were Puritan beliefs? •

What were relationships between Royalists and Puritans like in the 1600s?

Reasons why artists and writers might bend historical fact to achieve artistic goals.

Are character reactions in Bellini’s I Puritani consistent with what you have learned about historical Puritan beliefs?

When is it okay to alter historical facts or perspectives for the sake of art?

Reasons why composers and other artists set their works in historical settings.

Are gender roles and social relationships (ex: between Royalists and Parliamentarians) maintained?

Why has I Puritani remained so popular despite historical inaccuracies?

Why do you think Bellini set this fairly simple love story during the English Civil War instead of a fictional setting?

Student objectives (outcomes): Students will be able to: • Use historical research to analyze a work of fiction. •

Use their judgment to defend or criticize an artist or writer’s historical alterations.



STAGE 2 – ASSESSMENT EVIDENCE Performance Task(s): • Discuss the English Civil War and Puritan beliefs. •

Watch BLO’s production of I Puritani with the discussed historical context in mind.

Write a critique of the performance from the perspective of an English Puritan of the 17th century.

Other Evidence: • Ensure that students have a thorough understanding of Puritan ideals. •

Evaluate/gauge students’ experience with writing from different perspectives.

STAGE 3 – LEARNING PLAN Learning Activities: Total time: 3 class periods Introductory Activity Discussion and Research: (2 class period) • Discuss the historical background of I Puritani, including the English Civil Wars, the history of Puritanism, and Puritan beliefs. •

Have students do extra research on the beliefs, daily lives, and gender roles in Puritan society.

Developmental Activity: Watch I Puritani and write a persuasive argument: (Outside of class) •

Attend Boston Lyric Opera’s dress rehearsal of I Puritani. Have students analyze the opera keeping in mind their research on Puritan life and social norms of 17th century England. Some questions guiding questions: 1. Are there historical inaccuracies in the plot? Why do you think Bellini deviated from the facts? 2. Which characters and/or scenes do you think adhere believably to Puritan beliefs? Which do not? 3. Do you feel puritans were accurately portrayed by Bellini’s I Puritani? 4. Based on your knowledge of the time period, what aspects of the plot seem logical and which do not? 5. Are gender roles and social relationships (ex: between Royalists and Parliamentarians) maintained?

Write a persuasive argument on why you think Bellini was justified in changing the historical facts. What made 17th century England a good (or bad) setting for his story? What justifies changing the facts? (At home assignment)

Closing Activity: Discussion and Sharing Activity: (One class period) • Discuss arguments in class. Have students debate their argument in small groups.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION WORKS CITED Atkins, Scott. “Pilgrims and Puritans: Background.” The American Sense of Puritan. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. Cammarano, Salvadore. “Lucia Di Lammermoor”by Gaetano Donizetti.” DM’s Opera Site. Trans. Gwyn Morris. Web. <>. Clausen, Christoph. Macbeth Multiplied: Negotiating Historical and Medial Difference between Shakespeare and Verdi. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005. Print. “English Civil Wars.” Oliver Cromwell. The Cromwell Association, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Erfurth, A., and P. Hoff. “Mad Scenes in Early 19th-Century Opera.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 102.4 (2000): 310-13. Wiley Online Library. Web. 04 Feb. 2014. <>. Fisher, Anita L. “Women in the Middle Class in the 19th Century.” Clark College. Clark College, n.d. Web. 04 Feb.2014. <>. “The Great British Revolution 1639-51.” All Empires: Online History Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Lundgren, Bruce. “Vincenzo Bellini.” AllMusic. All Media Network, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <>. Pepoli, Carlo, and Vincenzo Bellini. I Puritani, a Grand Opera, with an English Version. London: Middleton, 1877. Print. Plant, David. “Queen Henrietta Maria, 1609-69.” Biography of Queen Henrietta Maria. BCW Project, 08 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Plant, David. “Puritans & Puritanism.” British Civil Wars. BCW Project, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Rosselli, John. The Life of Bellini. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996. Print. Smart, Mary Ann. “Parlor Games: Italian Music and Italian Politics in the Parisian Salon.” 19th-Century Music 34.1 (2010): 39-60. Print. Smith, David-Glen. “Women’s Roles in Puritan Culture.” David-Glen Smith. N.p., n.d. Web. <>. Stoyle, Mike. “Choosing Sides in the English Civil War.” BBC News. BBC, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Trinterud, Leonard J. Church History. 1st ed. Vol. 20. N.p.: Cambridge UP, 1951. Print. “Vincenzo Bellini.” Music Academy Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <>.


I Puritani Study Guide  
I Puritani Study Guide  

Boston Lyric Opera