Sounds of Learning Guide: MANON LESCAUT

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Opera Company of Philadelphia and The School District of Philadelphia Present

Giacomo Puccini’s

Manon Lescaut Final Dress Rehearsal Wednesday, April 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the Academy of Music


A Family Guide to

The Opera Company of Philadelphia believes the family is the most important foundation to learning. Let your kitchen table become a classroom where your children can build their knowledge of opera and the humanities. As you join in the teaching and learning process with your children, watch their eyes sparkle. Opera is a communal celebration, so too should be your children’s education. Pennsylvania’s standards in education call for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do and children need to share what they have discovered or learned. Thus, the title of our program is Sounds of Learning™. It reflects our belief that children must actively be engaged in sharing ideas. The Sounds of Learning™ workbook and teacher guide will integrate with the local core literacy curriculum in many ways. Just as opera is a uniquely integrated art, combining orchestra, voice, literature, drama, and dance, Sounds of Learning™ is an interdisciplinary, student-centered program. The goal of the Active Learning sections is to have your children engaged in the process of selfteaching. They will be able to show how they have gained insights into their learning by drawing, writing, and discussing the issues most relevant to them. In this way, students demonstrate what they can do with what they know. In reading the libretto, or script, we suggest that you and your family members take turns reading particular roles. Dr. Ellen Winner of Harvard’s Project Zero found that “drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials,” and helps improve not only students’ reading skills but also “oral and written language development.” (Journal of Aesthetic Education, v34, #3/4, Fall/Winter, 2000.) In preparing for the opera, we suggest you purchase one of EMI Classics’s excellent audio or video recordings of this opera. We are grateful to EMI Classics for offering us their libretti for use in our program. Together, we hope to build future audiences for, and performers of, the arts. Visit EMI on the web at

Goals and Objectives of Sounds of Learning™ • Improve literacy achievement by using the opera’s libretto to teach lessons across the curriculum • Understand the plot, characters, and their motivations of the opera • Learn something about the composer and others involved in writing the opera • Make a connection to the historic and social context of the story • Know some key musical elements, recognize certain melodies, differentiate between voices • Understand the role music plays in expressing emotions and heightening the dramatic experience • Understand the various elements of producing opera and the functions of those involved; e.g. conductor, director, set designer, technical crew, etc. • Develop the ability to make inferences about the opera, production, and performance • Relate incidents in the opera to those of the present day

Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.


Table of

Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Opera Company of Philadelphia Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Tips for Your Trip Opera - Online! The Language of Opera Opera’s Road Map The Then and Now of Opera

Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection 10 11 12 13

The Man Behind the Music: Giacomo Puccini What in the World? A Timeline of Important Events Manon’s Downward Spiral GAME: Connect the Opera Terms

Libretto and Production Information 14 15 16

How Many Writers Does It Take to Create the Libretto? Manon Lescaut: Synopsis Manon Lescaut: Libretto


Produce Your Own Opera!

Additional Lessons



Check out our website for additional content! Here you’ll find more information on the opera, its themes, lessons, and links to even more fascinating material. See page 5 for more details.


Opera Company of Philadelphia To do this we hire the best stage designers. Sets might be built in the Company’s Production Center in the Tacony area of Philadelphia. Sometimes the Opera Company partners with another company to create sets and costumes, or rents a production from another company.

Right: Soprano Ermonela Jaho and tenor Roger Honeywell in Jun Kaneko’s stylized production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Below: Tenor William Burden stars as Hippolyt in Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra. Photos: Kelly & Massa Photography

For over 30 years the Opera Company of Philadelphia has brought audiences outstanding production quality, artistry and educational opportunities. A strong blend of traditional and innovative programming will continue to ensure the excitement of opera in Philadelphia. Each season over 5,000 students from the Philadelphia area attend an opera through the Sounds of Learning™ program. The Company also hosts community recitals and lectures, internet events, and more. Opera has played a vital part in Philadelphia’s history. The first known opera staged in Philadelphia was Midas in 1769. Since then, opera has been so popular here that there have been several opera companies in the city at the same time! The Opera Company of Philadelphia was created when the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company and the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company joined in 1975. Since then, the Opera Company of Philadelphia has continued the city’s operatic traditions.

The Opera Company also supports creating new American operas. In recent seasons five new operas have been seen at OCP: Margaret Garner by Richard Danielpour, Cyrano by David DiChiera, Ainadamar by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, and Phaedra by Hans Werner Henze. Tea: A Mirror of Soul by Chinese composer Tan Dun, who wrote the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon film score, had its East Coast premiere at OCP in February 2010. 2. To identify and cultivate rising young talent and cast these future stars together with internationallyacclaimed singers. We find the brightest young singers in our own backyard at two of the best opera schools in the world - The Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts. Singers from both schools have sung right along side stars like Lawrence Brownlee and Nathan Gunn. 3. To present innovative programs relevant to the multicultural Philadelphia region that educate, broaden, deepen, and diversify the opera audience.

Each season, the Opera Company presents five different operas with singers from all over the world. Three of the operas are given in the beautiful, large-scale Academy of Music. With just under 2,900 seats, the Academy is the Opera Company’s home for grand opera. Two smaller, more intimate operas are staged in the Perelman Theater. Located in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Perelman Theater has only 600 seats, making it the perfect venue for chamber and modern operas. Today, the Opera Company’s mission, or core purpose, is three-fold: 1. To deliver outstanding productions of traditional repertoire and new, exciting operatic works that resonate with the community.

ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Find out more about the Opera Company of Philadelphia at our website:

2. Check out for a ton of information about the history of opera in Philadelphia.


Academy of Music You will attend the opera at Philadelphia’s Academy of President Franklin Pierce Music, which is the country’s 1804-1869 oldest grand opera house still used for its original purpose - performing opera! It is a very grand opera house with a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Its four-level design was based on the famous La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. Finding the money to build an opera house in Philadelphia was difficult, but enough money was raised by 1854. On October 13th a plot of land was bought on the corner of Broad and Locust Streets to build the opera house. In the fall of 1854 fifteen architects entered a competition to see who would design the Academy. On February 12, 1855, the team of Gustav Rungé and Napoleon le Brun won the contest, which included a $400 prize, or about $150,000 today! Within four months, the ground-breaking took place. The project was so important that President Franklin Pierce, along with the governor and mayor, laid the cornerstone on July 26, 1855. The Academy opened on January 26, 1857 with a Grand Ball and Promenade Concert. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. Two of many operatic highlights throughout the theater’s history include the American premiere of Charles Gounod’s opera Faust on November 18, 1863 and a performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on February 14, 1907, with the composer in attendance. Numerous presidents have visited the Academy, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. Prince Charles of Wales visited the Academy in 2007. Thousands of worldfamous performers have also appeared on its stage, like Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini, Marian Anderson, Maria Callas, and Luciano Pavarotti. The Academy was made a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1963. Since that time, a few improvements have been made to its structure. The “Twenty-First Century Project”, begun in 1996, replaced the stage floor, rigging system, and restored the historic ceiling. During 2008, the famous chandelier was rebuilt to how it looked in 1857. All

The Academy of Music’s restored chandelier. Photo by Michael Bolton

of these renovations have helped the Academy remain as grand as ever. We hope you find it grand as well!

Academy of Music Facts ›

The auditorium seats 2,897; 14 columns support the Academy’s tiers; the auditorium is encased within a three foot thick solid brick wall.

The Academy Chandelier is 25 feet high, 50 feet in circumference, almost 17 feet in diameter, and 3,500 pounds in weight. It has 23,000 crystals on it, which, if laid out, could reach from Broad Street to Rittenhouse Square and back.

The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain simulates that of a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.”

The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889 between the University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. At halftime, tug-of-war matches were held as entertainment.

1,600 people attended the first-ever motion picture screening on February 5, 1870. The audience saw a couple dancing, a gymnastics routine and more during the silent film.

› ›

Air conditioning was installed in 1959.

There was no elevator for the general public in the Academy until 1990! For more information on the Academy of Music, go to the library and take out Within These Walls, by John Francis Marion or go online to



Tips for Your Trip There’s nothing as exciting as attending an opera in the Academy of Music. You’ll be a guest at the final dress rehearsal of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Here’s what you’ll need to know about attending the opera! You may notice several computer monitors and a large table spread out over the seats in the center of the first floor of the auditorium. Seated in this area is the production team: Director, Assistant Director, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, and Set Designer, among others. They’ll be taking notes and communicating via headsets with the many people backstage who help make all of the operatic magic happen. They’ll be able to talk to the crew so changes can be made right away. Should things goes wrong, the rehearsal might be stopped or a part repeated to make sure that it is perfect.

ACTIVE LEARNING The picture on this page shows several patrons and famous opera characters on their way to attend an opera at the theater. Now picture yourself in their shoes. On a separate piece of paper, write a story as if you are one of these people. Think about your trip to the performance. What will the opera be like? You may want to mention going to the Academy of Music or attending the opera. What will you wear? How will you and your classmates act? At what time will you meet your classmates? How many classmates will attend? Will you have a special dinner before the opera? If so, where? Will the opera be exciting and entertaining? Share your thoughts here and compare your stories with your classmates.

Here’s a list of DOs and DON’Ts so that everyone in the theater can enjoy the opera:

SHOW SOME R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Unlike actors on television or in the movies, performers onstage are very aware of the audience. They want to share their love of performing with you. Everything you do in the audience affects what happens on stage. You can show them how much you appreciate their work and the opportunity to come to the rehearsal by being as quiet as possible. Show your respect for the cast, musicians, the production team, and everyone in the theater by not talking. Give the artists and the production your full attention!

Please Do...

the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or › atUse intermission.

› Enter and exit the theater in an orderly fashion. › Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for the › men and “Brava!” for the women.

the rehearsal. You’ve worked too hard preparing › forEnjoy the rehearsal not to!

› › › › › › ›

Don’t Forget... No food, gum or beverages are allowed inside the theater. Photographs or video footage may not be taken during the performance. No talking or whispering during the performance. No shoving, jumping, running, or spitting in the theater. Please obey the theater ushers and staff. Keep all objects to yourself. If you throw something, you might hurt someone and cause a disruption in the rehearsal. It is grounds for removal from the auditorium. MAKE YOUR SCHOOL PROUD!

Opera Online! You might study music in your schools or take lessons privately. But where do you go if you want to learn more about Manon Lescaut, opera singers, opera-related topics and experience opera more frequently? Visit OCP’s website at: Here you can find more information about Manon Lescaut and all the operas presented by the Opera Company, for FREE!

Opera Right in Your Email Inbox! Another great way to learn more is to sign up for the free weekly Sounds of Learning™ email list. Email your name, school and age to and each week we’ll send you an opera video “clip of the week” with famous opera singers singing great arias and ensembles all throughout the summer. Some will be funny, some will be thrilling, some will be dramatic, and all will be exciting! Also included in the email will be the website of the week. We’ll feature links to singers’ websites, music links, other great music and opera websites. You can build a whole library of video clips to go back to again and again! Share the clips and links with your family and friends.

Sounds of Learning™ Student Blog Don’t forget to check out our Sounds of Learning™ blog at The blog will allow you to discuss the opera with students throughout the tri-state area! Log onto the blog and share your thoughts and views about the opera, the music, the set, the singers, the Academy of Music, coming to center city Philadelphia, the email list “clip of the week” and more! Other students participating in Sounds of Learning™ from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware want to hear what you have to say! Post your comments by going to:

Behind-the-Scenes Photos See photos of the singers in rehearsal on our website: and click on the “Behind the Scenes” link in the main menu option area on the home page. Check out this area to see how a production develops from the first day of rehearsal to opening night!

Also, you can download extra copies of the Sounds of Learning™ guide and past guides from this page as well. All of this content is provided for free! If you’re online, check out our facebook, twitter and YouTube pages. Just search for Opera Company of Philadelphia!



The Language of Opera Act - main sections of a play or opera Aria - a solo song sung in an opera

Audience - people who watch a performance and sit in the “house� or auditorium Ballet - dance set to music within in an opera

Blocking - action on stage Character - person who is part of the opera’s story Chorus - music composed for a group of singers or the name of a group of singers in an opera Conductor - person who rehearses and leads the orchestra Duet - a song performed by 2 singers Orchestra - a group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments Overture - a piece of instrumental music played at the beginning of an opera Program - booklet that contains information about the opera, composer, performers, the opera company, and includes advertisements Recitative - words that are sung in the rhythm of natural speech - a bit like the 18th century version of rap

Rehearsal - time when singers/actors practice with or without the orchestra; time when musicians practice together with the conductor Scene - segments of action within the acts of an opera Types of Singers: Soprano - highest pitched female voice Mezzo-soprano - lower pitched female voice Tenor - highest pitched male voice

Baritone - male voice between tenor and bass Bass - lowest pitched male voice

Opera’s Road Map


An opera tells a story by taking you on a musical journey. Like a class trip or vacation, this journey can be separated into land marks and pit stops. Although every opera is different, they all follow a similar road map. Use the Opera Map Directions below with the Conductor Map on the lower right to trace this musical journey.

Opera Map Directions 1. Head to the overture. Before the curtain comes up the orchestra plays the overture. The overture is the musical introduction to the opera. It will often have melodies in it that you might hear during the opera.

2. Continue straight to Act I. After the overture the curtain will rise, and various characters will appear, signaling the start of the opera. Once the opera begins the map begins to vary. Depending on the opera, the music could go one of four ways. Be on the lookout for arias, duets, trios, quartets, choruses, and recitatives. An aria is a solo piece of music sung by one person and is a bit like a monologue in a play. During it the character might reflect on his or her emotions, or it can give the singer a chance to show off, too!

5. Continue straight across to the Finale. The finale is the last musical piece in the opera and is often sung by the entire cast. Some operas have a big finale for each act. After the finale the curtain goes down. 6. You have arrived at the Curtain Call. The curtain call occurs at the very end of the opera. The curtain will come back up and the chorus, dancers, individual singers, and orchestra will be recognized for their work. The audience shows their appreciation for the show by clapping or shouting “Bravo!”, “Brava!”, or “Bravissimo!!”

OVERTURE The musical introduction played by the orchestra.


Duets, trios and quartets are moments when 2-4 characters sing together to express their emotions or further the action of the drama. These ensembles grow to include the whole cast and chorus! The chorus is a section sung by a group of people who are not solo singers. The chorus can sing on stage or off stage. It sometimes sings in the background of an aria or scene. Recitative is a section of music where the opera singer’s singing becomes quick and almost speech-like. Recitative helps move the story along between arias, choruses, and duets. Often the orchestra’s accompaniment will be minimal under the singer.

3. Make a left at the Intermission. The intermission is a 1520 minute break in the performance when the audience can stretch or use the bathroom. It allows the stage crew to change the scenery for the next act and the singers to change costumes.

4. Continue straight to Act II. The next act uses the same elements as Act I to continue the story (arias, choruses, ensembles, and recitatives). Operas may have several acts and intermissions. In some operas there are four intermissions and five acts!


ACT I A group of scenes with a common theme. Intermission

ACT II A group of scenes that continues the story from Act I. Act II has the same musical elements as Act I (chorus, recitative, etc.).

FINALE The last piece of music performed in the opera.

CURTAIN CALL After the curtain closes, the cast and the orchestra stand and take a bow. The audience shows their appreciation by clapping or yelling "Bravo!"

LE ENSEMBio, Duet, Tr or Quartet


The Then and Now of



Theatrical performances that use music, song and dance to tell a story can be found in many cultures. Opera is just one example of music drama. Have you ever wondered where opera got its start? Back in the late 1500s during the height of the Renaissance, a group of men called the Florentine Camerata got together to create a new and moving theatrical experience. They wanted to recreate what the ancient Greeks did during their legendary dramas. The result was something entirely new – opera! Most of the early operas were based on Greek myths. The first opera that we know of was called Dafne by Jacopo Peri in 1598, but the most famous opera of this early period that is still performed today is Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607). Certain basic ingredients were included in opera: songs, instrumental accompaniments, costumes, dance, and scenery. We still use all of these ingredients today! The early operas were first performed in the grand courts of Italian nobility, but soon opera became popular with the public, too. As it became all the rage, productions became more lavish! Soon, theaters began to be built just to mount operas.

Top: mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose as the hero in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice; Above: Prisoners in their cells in Jun Kaneko’s production of Beethoven’s Fidelio.

These theaters had elaborate stage machinery to create special effects like flying actors Claudio Monteverdi or crumbling buildings. Not 1567-1643 everyone embraced the new form of theater. Some critics thought that all of the stage antics in opera detracted from the music and drama. Some people even believed that seeing too much comedy in opera could make you immoral! During the Baroque period (about 1600 to 1750), Italian opera spread all over Europe. The Italian style of opera was so popular that even non-Italians wrote in this style. For example George Frederic Handel (1685 – 1759) was a German-born composer who lived and worked in England. His operas, like Julius Caesar (1724), were written in the Italian language and used an Italian style of music. The only nation to create its’ own national operatic style was France. Ballet played a large role in the French culture, and operas often included ballets in the middle of the opera. The most famous French Baroque opera composers were JeanBaptiste Lully (1632-1687) and Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764). The eighteenth century was full of change for both Europe and opera. This time period was known as the Age of Enlightenment. People were starting to talk about new forms of government and organization in society, especially the ever-growing middle class. Music displayed this new thinking as composers dropped the Baroque era’s complicated musical style for simpler, more emotional music. In less-flashy music, characters could express their thoughts and feelings more believably. One of the first operas to use this new style was Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1762). In 1776 the American Revolution changed the world. A few years later the French had their own revolution (1789) and the first modern democracies were born. To match the times in which they were created, audiences wanted to see characters like themselves on stage, not gods and goddesses. They also wanted to see issues that were important to them. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786) featured a timely story of aristocratic class struggles that had both servants and nobility in lead roles. The ideals of the Enlightenment also came to the stage in Ludwig van Beethoven‘s only opera, Fidelio, a story about equality and freedom.

absurd (The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky, 1951). American opera had a huge hit with George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) which included jazz and blues musical styles. Not only did American composers embrace popular music in opera but also a repetitive, hypnotic style called minimalism. American composer Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (1976) is the popular example of minimalism in opera.

In the 1800s opera continued to grow. The Italian tradition continued in the bel canto movement, which literally translates to “beautiful singing”. These operas asked performers to sing complicated groups of fast notes in the melodies. The most famous bel canto composers were Gioacchino Rossini (1792 –1868), Gaetano Donizetti (1797 – 1848), and Vincenzo Bellini (1801 –1835). Their operas, like Rossini’s popular comedies The Barber of Seville (1816) and Cinderella (1817), are still some of the most popular operas performed today. By the middle of the century, the Romantic Movement led many composers to champion their own national identities. As a result, operas in languages other than Italian became more common; new works often reflected pride in a country’s people, history, and folklore. German operas like Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (1821), Russian operas like Mikhail Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar (1836) and French operas like Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (1836) started to be performed across Europe. By using nationalism in his operas like Nabucco (1842), Italian Giuseppe Verdi became a national hero. In Germany Richard Wagner took Romanticism to the extreme in a four-part operatic miniseries based on Norse mythology, The Ring of the Nibelung (1876), which takes over 15 hours to perform! The operatic stereotype of the singer in the Viking helmet comes from these operas. Opera in twentieth century became even more experimental. Composers like Giacomo Puccini (La bohème, 1896), Claude Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande, 1902), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905), and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) evolved their national styles. Others, horrified by the destruction of World War I (1914-1919) and other aspects of modern life, created music that was new and drastically dissonant. These operas often explored either dark psychological topics (Wozzeck by Alban Berg, 1925), or simple and

Today, opera is still growing and expanding. The Opera Company of Philadelphia helps to shape the future of opera by producing important new works like Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison’s slaveryinspired Margaret Garner (2005), Osvaldo Golijov’s flamenco-themed Ainadamar (2003), and Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra (2007), which interprets Greek mythology through the eyes of a World War II survivor. This year the Opera Company of Philadelphia is proud to present Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters (2011) which is set in the American Southwest explores the lives of a group of women who live in a polygamist community. Although opera is one of the oldest musical art forms, it still remains and expands today. From the old favorites to the new experimental works opera continues to be a moving art form of the people.

ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Chose a composer noted above and research two other operas by that composer.

2. 3. 4.

Can you find the story of the Greek myth Daphne?


Visit the Opera Road Map on page 7 to learn more about opera.

How did Lully die? What does the acronym Verdi stand for in the phrase Viva Verdi?

9 Right: the cast of Rossini’s Cinderella; Below: Puccini’s loveable bohemians; Bottom: Denyce Graves and Gregg Baker in Danielpour and Morrison’s Margaret Garner.

The Man Behind the Music:


Giacomo Puccini Giacomo Puccini’s family was very poor due to his father’s death at the age of 51, when Giacomo was five. He was the oldest son. His mother was left to support two sons and six daughters. She believed that a good education could free her children from their poverty. The following letter was written by Puccini’s mother to the Queen of Italy in an attempt to acquire a scholarship for her son. Majesty, You are the Queen and the mother of all the poor, and you are also the patroness of artists, while I am a poor widow with two young sons, whose ambition in life is to give them the best education. My children are students of music, and the older of them, Giacomo, shows great promise. For five generations, the Puccini’s have formed a dynasty of musicians, and if the opportunity should arise, Giacomo will continue the glorious tradition. He has terminated his studies at Lucca; he desires to proceed to Milan, the capital of music. I cannot myself pay his expenses at the Conservatory, for I have only a meager monthly pension of 75 lire allowed me by the City Council. The Duchess Carafa, who knows me well, has encouraged me to write to Your Majesty. Will you therefore in your immense generosity come to the help of a poor mother and an ambitious boy. Kissing your munificent hand, I am Albina Magi-Puccini Even after Puccini received a scholarship, he remained poor. He often wrote to his mother about food, requesting a little olive oil or some beans. He found that the other students were from wealthier families and he could not join them at the cafes of Milan because a drink was more than he could afford. While he was a student at the conservatory, he wrote Capriccio sinfonico. This piece was part of his graduation requirements, and it later found its way into the opening theme of his opera La bohème. After he graduated with a bronze medal, he struggled for ten years before he became recognized as a major talent in the field of opera. During this time, he would send his younger brother Michele the few extra lire he had. However, his brother decided to immigrate to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1889 in search of a better life.

It was there that he became ill with yellow fever in 1891 and died. His brother’s death pained Giacomo deeply. If he had been successful a little earlier, he thought, his brother emigrate.






Puccini’s family was not the only family suffering. Italy was one of the poorest nations of Europe when Puccini was alive. Italy had been one of the last nations to unify its states into a country and powerful European nations and the Vatican controlled large sections of the country. As a result of political instability and frequent wars that moved through the region, Italy’s economy was largely underdeveloped. The economy was weak because investors put their money into nations with stable governments. Countries that have frequent uprisings or political instability place the investments and economy at greater risk. Who would want to put money in an area where the new factory could be burned down in the next riot? As a result, Italy was not able to begin to attract the foreign investors needed to build its economy. Some scholars feel that the loss of his young brother to an early death, as a result of poverty, was the passionate power behind the music in his operas. The theme of poverty was addressed in his operas La bohème, which tells of four young and starving artists, and Gianni Schicchi, in which a wealthy man’s relatives try to rewrite the his will so they get his riches. As Puccini grew more successful, he continued to be aware of the suffering of those he considered to have “great sorrows in little souls.”

ACTIVE LEARNING 1. What are some of the challenges facing families living in poverty in Philadelphia?


What are some ways that you can help those who are living in poverty?


Investigate local charities that work with the homeless and see what kinds of programs they provide.


If you were in a position to assist at a local charity, can you think of other programs that you would start to help the homeless more?

What in the World??

Personal and Historic Events during Puccini’s Life


Listed below are some historic and cultural events that took place during Puccini’s life. Events in boldface type are things that happened to Puccini; an asterisk (*) indicates events of local interest. What might it have been like to be alive at this time?

1857 1858 1861 1865 1870 1874 1876 1877 1880 1882 1883 1884

* Philadelphia’s Academy of Music opened with a concert conducted by Tchaikovsky. Puccini was born on December 22 in Lucca, son of Michele Puccini and Albina Magi. American Civil War began. It ended in 1865. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery throughout the U.S. * The first section of the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. opened to the public. * The first U.S. zoo opened in Philadelphia. Puccini wrote the Symphonic Prelude. He attended the opera Aïda and was very impressed. * The first department store was opened by John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. While at the Conservatory of Lucca, Puccini composed a Mass for soloists and orchestra. He enrolled at the Conservatory in Milan and was taught by Bazzini and Ponchielli. The first string of Christmas tree lights was created by Thomas Edison. * The Philadelphia Phillies, then called the Quakers, played their first baseball game. Puccini’s first opera, Le Villi, premiered on May 31 in Milan. He began to work with publisher Giulio Ricordi. His mother died. He began a long love affair with his friend’s wife. America's first roller coaster began operating at Coney Island, NYC. It hit a top speed of 6 mph.

1890 1893 1896

Ellis Island, NYC, opened as a US immigration depot. Manon Lescaut gave Puccini his first big success at Teatro Reggio in Turin on February 1. * Philadelphia observed the first Flag Day. The premiere of La bohème at Teatro Regio on February 1 was led by conductor Arturo Toscanini. The first movie theater in US opened and charged 10 cents for admission.

1900 1901 1904 1907 1910 1912 1919 1921 1922 1924 1926

Puccini’s Tosca premiered at Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14. The hamburger was created by Louis Lassing in Connecticut. * The first annual Mummers parade was held in Philadelphia. Puccini married Elvira Bonturi after the death of her first husband. Madama Butterfly had a disastrous premiere at La Scala. Puccini revised it for a successful Brescia production on May 28. Puccini traveled to New York to see the Metropolitan Opera premieres of Madama Butterfly and Manon Lescaut. He was impressed by David Belasco’s play The Girl of the Golden West. Puccini went to New York a second time for the premiere of La fanciulla del west on November 10, led by Arturo Toscanini and starring Enrico Caruso. The opera was based on Belasco’s play. The British ocean liner Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg. * Construction began on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current home. It was completed in 1928. Puccini began work on Turandot at Viareggio with a libretto by Adami and Simone. King Tut’s tomb was discovered. After treatment for throat cancer, Puccini died of a heart attack on November 29. Two months after his death, Puccini was given the honorary title of senator. His remains were moved to Torre del Lago and reinterred in the estate chapel. Turandot premiered incomplete at La Scala, conducted by Toscanini on April 25. Later performance included the ending as completed by Franco Alfano who used Puccini’s sketches.

Tenor Enrico Caruso in Puccini’s La fanciulla del west. Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Manon’s 12

Downward Spiral Imagine you’re a poor young woman living in France in the 1700s. What are your options in life? Well, you don’t really have many: become a wife and mother where your only job is to make babies and make sure your husband is happy; enter the convent and become a nun; or become a courtesan - a woman kept by a rich man to entertain him. Manon’s explores a few of these options, but she ends up on a downward spiral which ultimately leads to her death. When we first meet Manon in the opera she is young, shy and innocent. She’s completely amazed by the town of Amiens. She’s not really sure how to react to the charms of the handsome young nobleman she’s just met, René Des Grieux. Even though she’s being sent to the convent to become a nun, there is an instant attraction between the two of them. In the midst of all of this, Manon’s not-soinnocent brother is hoping to marry her off right then and there to the rich Geronte in the hopes of pocketing some of the money that such a marriage could bring him. Manon now finds herself at a crossroad. Should she continue on her path to the convent, or lead a life of excitement with the dashing young gentleman? On one hand she knows that life in the convent will be filled with quiet servitude to God. On the other hand, she does not know what her life with Des Grieux will be like or what is in store for her.

Impulsively she runs away from her family and the life chosen for her by them to live with Des Grieux in Paris. His wealthy father, appalled that his son has run off with an unknown woman, cuts him off from the family fortune and Des Grieux struggles to earn enough money to support the lifestyle to which Manon has quickly grown accustomed. He resorts to theft and gambling, which still doesn’t bring him enough money. Manon is attracted to a life of luxury and needs to be surrounded by it. Now that Des Grieux has lost his fortune, his love is not quite enough for her to be happy. She soon leaves him to live with Geronte who showers her with jewels, beautiful clothes, and all of the finer things in life. Manon is in her element, but finds that, even surrounded by beautiful things, she is not happy. When Des Grieux shows up at Geronte’s home to find Manon, she, again, decides to run off with him. But this time, she steals the jewels that Geronte had bought for her. She is arrested and put into prison for theft. Des Grieux stays with her through all of her troubles and goes with her when she is deported to America. In America she struggles to maintain her health and ultimately dies wandering in the desert. Manon is opera’s original “material girl”. She only reacts to her own needs and is completely selfcentered. She doesn’t seem to understand that what she is doing, in leaving Des Grieux when he is poor or stealing from Geronte, is wrong. Her family and her lover put up with her self-absorbed behavior and have even enabled it. Only Geronte stands up to her and forces her to face what she has done. Geronte’s reactions to Manon’s deeds lead to her deportation and death.

ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Can you think of any recent women who have faced downfalls and challenges brought on by wealth or celebrity?

2. Can you find Amiens and Le Havre on a map? An 1856 painting by Joseph Caraud of the Abbé Prévost reading the Manon Lescaut story.

Connect the

Opera Terms



Opera Seria


Dance spectacle set to music.




Highest pitched woman’s voice.




Dramatic text adapted for opera.




Low female voice.




Comic opera.





A drama or comedy in which music is the essential factor; very little is spoken.




Opera with dramatic and intense plots.




Music composed for a singing group.



A composition written for two performers.


A group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments.

12. Contralto


Highest pitched man’s voice.

13. Tenor


A musical style used in opera and oratorio, in which the text is declaimed in the rhythm of natural speech with slight melodic variation.

10. Chorus 11. Act

14. Opera Buffa 15. Recitative

M. Male voice between bass and tenor.

16. Bass


A piece of music originally designed to be played before an opera or musical play.


The term describing the realistic or naturalistic school of opera that flourished briefly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; libretti were chosen to depict a ‘slice of life’.


Deepest male voice.


Elaborate solo in an opera or oratorio.


Main division of a play or opera.

17. Overture 18. Verismo

How Many Writers Does It Take to

Create the Libretto?


When you were young, you might have read the picture book, Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg. Or you might have seen the film of the same name that starred the young Kirsten Dunst and Robin Williams who played her father. Did you ever wonder how they expanded a short 32-page picture book into a full-length, feature movie that lasted an hour and forty-four minutes? It was a mighty job for the screenwriter to be sure. In fact, it took a number of screen writers to get it done. Not one, not two, but three writers brought pen to paper to create the script. Van Allsburg was not impressed, so he took over the project himself, and wrote a plot line that he liked that ended up on the screen! This happened, too, with Giacomo Puccini and his first successful opera, Manon Lescaut.

Jules Massenet 1842 - 1912

Setting the stage for Manon Lescaut, you have to know that Jules Massenet, a prolific French opera composer of the time, had written a very successful opera, Manon, just five years earlier that was based on the exact same story as Puccini’s opera; Abbé Prévost’s L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (The Story of Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut). Abbé Prévost’s book was published in 1731 as a volume in Prévost’s novel Memoirs of a Man of Quality who has Retired from the World. The tale was shockingly immoral for its time and follows the story of the French nobleman le Chevalier Des Grieux and the young Manon Lescaut. Des Grieux tries in vain to satisfy Manon’s lust for expensive things, but every time he runs out of money, Manon scandalously leaves him to live with some other rich man. As Puccini scholar Charles Osborne relates, Puccini was decidedly competitive in temperament and was determined to compose an opera about Manon Lescaut, not only because he had been reading the novel but also because he felt he could do it better. His advisors thought it unwise for Puccini to write an opera that would compete with Massenet’s successful one.

Illustration of Abbé Prévost's novel from 1753.

Puccini instinctively knew he was right; he wrote, Massenet “feels it as a Frenchman, with the powder and the minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with

desperate passion.” Indeed, his Manon Lescaut is, in most musical respects, a far more interesting score than Massenet’s, with superior dramatic unity and impact. His first opera, Le villi (1884) was moderately successful and won him a contract with Ricordi, the leading Italian music publisher of the day. His second opera, Edgar (1889) had a very disappointing reception at La Scala opera house. After Edgar’s failure, Puccini had actually contemplated emigrating to South America, where his brother, Michele, lived. Fortunately, Michele was unable to bankroll Puccini’s exit from Italy and Ricordi made him an allowance from his own pocket until the hugely successful Manon Lescaut came out. Who was to write the libretto, or the words of the opera? Puccini wanted to do it himself so that "no fool of a librettist" could spoil it. However, it was Ricordi who convinced Puccini that it should be done by a professional. The choice first fell on Ruggero Leoncavallo, who had not yet composed his great opera Pagliacci which was to come in 1892. Despite his potential, Puccini was dissatisfied with Leoncavallo’s ideas regarding the treatment of the subject, so he was removed and replaced by Marco Praga, a well-known playwright. Praga recruited poet Domenico Oliva to write the verses, but Puccini was not happy with the libretto they handed over. Praga dropped out, and soon after Oliva withdrew, as well. At this point, two young playwrights, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, began to work on the libretto, which in due course, they completed to the composer’s satisfaction. Giacosa and Illica collaborated with Puccini to create his three most popular operas, La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), and Madama Butterfly (1904). If Puccini’s earlier operas had been less successful, Manon Lescaut was written to be a blockbuster and showed off what Puccini did best: beautiful and soaring melodies, rich orchestration, and the ability to make an audience feel sympathy for a not-so-sympathetic heroine. The critics couldn’t have agreed more and Manon Lescaut was dubbed a masterpiece for the 31-year old composer. This opera put Puccini on the map in the opera world and his fame spread throughout Italy. Manon Lescaut premiered within days of Falstaff, the last opera by the grandfather of Italian opera, Giuseppe Verdi. With the elderly Verdi retiring, it seemed that Puccini showed that he was there to mount the throne as the next great Italian opera composer.

Manon Lescaut



ACT I Outside an inn in Amiens, Edmondo leads students and girls in chorus about the pleasures of youth, while des Grieux enters, despondent (“Tra voi belle”). The others mock him, suggesting he is coming off an ill-starred affair. Just then, a carriage arrives containing Manon, her brother Lescaut, and Geronte, the Treasurer General. Des Grieux falls madly in love with her (“Donna non vidi mai”) and Manon shares his infatuation. When he discovers she is on her way to a convent at the order of her father, he asks that she meet him later. Meanwhile, Geronte convinces Lescaut to help him kidnap Manon. He agrees, dazzled by the old man’s wealth. Edmondo overhears and quickly warns Des Grieux, who convinces Manon to escape with him in Geronte’s carriage. Lescaut is not concerned, as he believes Geronte’s wealth will lure Manon away from Des Grieux.



Having left the impoverished Des Grieux, Manon is now Geronte’s mistress. Lescaut visits her at Geronte’s house, where Manon complains that her new wealth is stultifying and that Geronte is too old and dull. She thinks of Des Grieux and the simple life they shared. (“In quelle trine morbide”) Lescaut announces that Des Grieux has gotten rich gambling and runs off to find him. Geronte enters with musicians and a dancing master for Manon’s entertainment. After they leave Des Grieux enters and reproaches Manon, but she quickly charms away his anger. (“Tu, tu, amore, tu”) Geronte discovers the lovers together and, after being mocked by Manon, leaves in disgrace. Lescaut rushes back to warn them of Geronte, who is coming back with the police. Despite the need to escape, Manon cannot surrender her jewels, and attempts to gather them up in her cloak. The police burst in, find the jewels, and arrest Manon for theft.

Fleeing New Orleans, the victims of intrigue and jealousy, Manon and Des Grieux wander a vast desert in search of sanctuary. As night falls, Manon feels herself dying and sends Des Grieux away in search of shelter. Alone, she laments her destruction and her poisonous beauty. (“Sola, perduta, abbandonata”) Des Grieux returns to find her on the verge of death. He collapses to the ground, overcome with grief as she dies.

ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Want to learn more about Manon Lescaut? Don’t forget to sign up for our Opera-Online email list and get videos and web links sent directly to your inbox!

2. Want to compare Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with the original ACT III Manon is being held in Le Havre among prostitutes and is set to be deported to Louisiana. Lescaut and Des Grieux arrive with a plan to liberate Manon. Lescaut bribes a guard and Des Grieux rushes off to speak with Manon through her bars. The escape plan falls through and Manon is led out on roll call. The crowd flings filthy comments at Manon as her name is called, but Lescaut arouses their compassion for his sister. As the girls are led onto the ship, a devastated Des Grieux begs the captain to let him stow away, no matter how undignified his work must be. (“No! No! pazzo son!”) The captain is moved by Des Grieux sadness and allows him on board.

story by Abbé Prévost? You can read a great translation of it online at

3. Is there a desert in Louisiana? Why would the librettists set the opera’s final scene in the “desert” of Louisiana?

Postcard printed by Ricordi at the premiere of Manon Lescaut.

Produce Your Own Opera!


Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce an opera? In this exercise, you’re the boss. You’ll want to break up into teams to complete the tasks at hand: creating your own opera! Remember to have fun with this. It can be as long and as short as you want it to be.

Scenario: The Opera Company of Philadelphia is producing a fictitious Dracula-themed opera called Renfield’s Revenge by the fictitious composer Ephraim von Streimenhoffer. The Company must decide whether it is going to build its own production or rent a production, decide on several casting and orchestra issues, and decide whether it will rent or build its own costumes.

Office Administration Fees $220,000 These fees include salaries and benefits for a staff of 30, and office rental and utility fees. Orchestra Fees $225,000 Conductor’s salary, orchestra of 60 players, scores for 60 players, salary for Music Librarian. Chorus Fees $125,000 Chorus of 45 singers, Chorus Master salary, Rehearsal accompanist. Children’s Chorus


Supernumerary Fees $1,500 “Supers” receive $10 for every performance and every rehearsal they attend.

The Characters include:

Production Salary Costs $45,000 This includes salaries for Director, Stage Manager, 2 Assistant Stage Managers, and one month’s housing for the Stage Director.

Melisma, a soprano prima donna, enamored of Jonas $10,000-$6,500*

Adjustable Costs:

Kantata, her mezzo-soprano confidante/maid $7,500-$4,000* Canon, an heroic vampire-slayer tenor extraordinaire $12,000-$8,500* Renfield, a crazy madman tenor that eats bugs $10,000-$6,500* Nosferatu, a villainous vampire-baritone $10,000-$6,500* Cantus Firmus, pious penitent bass with a penchant for packing garlic $7,500-$4,000* A chorus of 45 singers, a children’s chorus of 20, 10 supernumeraries or extras.

Singers: Depending upon the chosen cast, you will have three options as to what your final costs will be. The most expensive cast has the most popular singers. The least expensive cast is not as popular, but the singers are very good younger singers. The middle cast option contains some popular singers and some up and coming singers. Remember, there are 6 performances! Cast A = Cast B = Cast C =

$57,000 per performance $52,000 per performance $36,000 per performance

Set: The Company needs to decide if it should build its own set or rent it. There are a couple of options for both criteria:

OCP-Built Set

Fixed Costs: Academy of Music Rental Fee $250,000 The Opera Company of Philadelphia has to rent space in which to perform. As a renter, the Opera Company is considered a tenant of the Academy of Music, just as if you rent an apartment, you are considered a tenant of the apartment building. This fee included space rental fees, usher fees and stage hand fees.

#1: Opulent, very detailed and will need extra union $200,000 laborers to complete on time. #2: Scaled down version of first option, with less $100,000 expensive materials to create. #3: Technology-based design concept that uses $150,000 cutting-edge production technology.

* per performance fee

Rented Set #1: A bit large for the stage of the Academy and it will be a $45,000 tight fit – it has stunning sets, however. #2: Set is a bit small for the Academy stage, but it is a fairy-tale style production hat audience members $45,000 will enjoy. Costumes: #1: Throwing caution to the wind, these OCP-built $150,000 costumes are elegant and imaginative. #2: A bit scaled back in concept from option 1, these costumes look wonderful onstage and will still be $100,000 crowd-pleasing. #3: These costumes are rented and will enhance the $70,000 look of the opera. #4: This option contains some rented costumes and $85,000 some built by OCP.

Optional: Additional Orchestra Rehearsal Additional Dress Rehearsal Understudy Cast

$7,000 $75,000 $30,000

Active Learning While a lot of negotiations take place among the General Director, Music Director, Production Department, Stage Directors, and the like, it ultimately comes down to managing money. Each season a specific amount of money is set aside for each of the operas we produce. But there are a lot of elements that come into play when deciding how to spend that money. For this exercise you’ll be given $1,000,000 to stage an opera, which is the average cost it takes to put together one production. You’ll be given some fixed costs that are not negotiable and have to be paid. Then there are some other costs that you’ll be able to decide upon when it comes time to pay the bill. You cannot go over $1,000,000. If you go over $1,000,000, you lose. If you stay under $1,000,000, you receive 10 points for every $1,000 you save. Remember, you need to create the best possible production. The better the production is overall, the happier the audience will be. The happier the audience is, the more inclined they will be to renew their subscription and donate to the Company.

After you’ve figured out a budget, here some other things that you will need to do:

1. Write your own plot – you can’t have an opera without a story.

a. You may need to do some research on vampire themes and about Transylvania: What is Transylvania like? What are vampire bats and what are their characteristics? Would you be seriously hurt if you were bitten by a bat?

b. In what era will you set the opera? Modern times? Medieval times? The future?

c. What is the arc of the story, its beginning middle and end?

d. What is Renfield’s Revenge? Why is he vengeful? e. How many acts will it have? f. Write an aria or monologue for Melisma, Canon, and Nosferatu. his should consist of 10-20 lines of dialogue in which these characters express their emotions about someone or something and a plan of action.

2. Design sets and costumes for the opera. a. Use this as an art project with your class or at home. b. You can do this on sketching paper, on a computer, or maybe as a collage with images taken from magazines. Questions:

How did you come up with your final budget? What was the most important aspect of the production for your group – singers? Sets and costumes? What was the most difficult choice for you to make? Did you include any of the optional additions to the project? If so, did you include the option rather than using more expensive singers or stage design? What percentage of the $1,250,000 is designated for Academy of Music rental fees? If the Supernumerary budget is $1,500 and there are 10 Supernumeraries and 6 performances, how many rehearsals did the 10 supers attend?




Words underlined in the glossary are used within the libretto. If you come across one of these words as you read through the libretto and you’re unsure of that word’s meaning, you can look it up here in the glossary. act (akt) n. one of the main divisions of a play or opera. adulation (aj-uh-ley-shuhn) n. excessive devotion to someone; servile flattery. alcove (al-kohv) n. a recess or small room adjacent to or opening out of a room allegro (uh-leg-roh) adv. musical term for fast and lively. alto (al-toh) n. the range of the female voice between mezzo-soprano and contralto. amateur (am-uh-cher) n. one who engages in an activity for pleasure rather than professional reasons. andante (ahn-dahn-tey) adv. a musical term meaning in moderately slow time. anteroom (an-tee-room) n. a room that admits to a larger room. antagonist (an-tag-o-nist) n. an adversary or opponent of the main character or protagonist in an opera, play, or other drama. apothecary (uh-poth-uh-ker-ee) n. a druggist; a pharmacist. or a pharmacy or drugstore. aria (ahr-ee-uh) n. an operatic song for one voice. aura (awr-uh) n. distinctive and pervasive quality or character; air; atmosphere: an aura of respectability . baleful (beyl-fuhl) adj. full of menacing or malign influences; pernicious. bar (bahr) n. a division of music containing a set number of beats. baritone (bar-i-tohn) n. the range of the male voice between tenor and bass. bass (beys) n. the lowest male singing voice. beat (beet) n. the basic pulse of a piece of music. beau-monde (boh mond; Fr.) n. the fashionable world; high society. brazen (brey-zuhn) adj. shameless or impudent: brazen presumption. buff (buhf) n. Informal. to the bare skin. capriciously (kuh-prish-uhs-lee) adj. Obsolete . fanciful or witty. cask (kask, kahsk) n. a container made and shaped like a barrel, especially one larger and stronger, for holding liquids. Chloris (Khloris) n. Chloris was a nymph associated with spring, flowers and new growth. chord (kord) n. a group of notes played at the same time in harmony. chorus (kawr-uhs) n. 1. a group of singers. 2. a piece of music for these. chronological (kron-l-oj-i-kuhl) adj. a method of arrangement that puts events in order of occurrence. coffer – (kaw-fer) n. a box or chest, especially one for valuables. coiffure – (kwah-fyoor) n. a style of arranging or combing the hair. contralto (cuhn-tral-toh) n. the lowest female singing voice. coquettish (koh-ket-ish) adj. characteristically flirtatious, especially in a teasing, lighthearted manner. covet (kuhv-it) v. to desire wrongfully or without due regard for the rights of others: to covet another's property. delirium (dih-leer-ee-uhm) n. a state of violent excitement or emotion. disdain (dis-deyn) v. to look upon or treat with contempt; despise; scorn. entreat (en-treet) v. to ask (a person) earnestly; beseech; implore; beg: to entreat the judge for mercy. exploit (ek-sploit) n. a striking or notable deed; feat; spirited or heroic act: the exploits of Alexander the Great. farce (fahrs) n. foolish show; mockery; a ridiculous sham. flat (b) (flat) adj. a half-step lower than the corresponding note or key of natural pitch.

fleece (flees) v. to deprive of money or belongings by fraud, hoax, or the like; swindle: forte (f) (for-tay) adv. loudly. fortissimo (ff) (for-tee-see-moh) adv. a musical term for very loud. gallantry (gal-uhn-tree) n. dashing courage; heroic bravery; noble-minded behavior. gilded or gilt (gil-did) adj. covered or highlighted with gold or something of a golden color. impetuous (im-pech-oo-uhs) adj. of, pertaining to, or characterized by sudden or rash action, emotion, etc.; impulsive: ineffable (in-ef-uh-buhl) adj. incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy. infamy (in-fuh-mee) n. extremely bad reputation, public reproach, or strong condemnation as the result of a shameful, criminal. insolent (in-suh-luhnt) adj. boldly rude or disrespectful; contemptuously impertinent; insulting: an insolent reply. key (kee) n. the basic note of the main scale used in a piece of music. In the key of G, for example, G is the fundamental note; the music often returns to it and comes to rest on it. languor (lang-ger) n. lack of energy or vitality; sluggishness. largo (lahr-goh) adv. a musical term meaning in slow time and dignified style. leitmotiv (lahyt-mo-teev) n. a melodic passage or phrase associated with a specific character, situation, or element. libretto (li-bret-oh) n. the words of an opera or other long musical. lorgnette (lawrn-yet) n. a pair of eyeglasses mounted on a handle. madrigal (mad-ri-guhl) n. a lyric poem suitable for being set to music, usually short and often of amatory character, especially fashionable in the 16th century and later, in Italy, France, England, etc major (mahy-zer) adj. music in a major key uses a major scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then another tone (for example, C, D, E). It often has a cheerful, strong sound. Mercury (mur-kyuh-ree) n. Roman myth Greek counterpart: Hermes the messenger of the gods minor (my-ner) adj. music in a minor key uses a minor scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then a semitone ( for example A, B, C). It often has a sad, melancholic sound. muse (myooz) n. the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like natural (nach-er-uhl) adj. a note that is neither flattened nor sharpened. nigh (nahy) adv. near in space, time, or relation: The time draws nigh. oblivion (uh-bliv-ee-uhn) n. the state of being completely forgotten or unknown: a former movie star now in oblivion octave (ok-tiv) n. a note that sounds twice as high in pitch as another, is an octave above the other note, and has the same letter naming it. opera (op-er-uh) n. a play in which the words are sung to musical accompaniment. orchestra (awr-keh-struh) n. a large body of people playing various musical instruments, including stringed and wind instruments. overture (oh-ver-cher) n. an orchestral composition forming a prelude to an opera or ballet. petition (puh-tish-uhn) n. a request made for something desired, especially a respectful or humble request. philosophical (fil-uh-sof-i-kuhl) adj. rationally or sensibly calm, patient, or composed. pianissimo (pp) (pee-ah-nees-ee-moh) adv. a musical term meaning very softly. piano (p) (pi-an-oh) 1. adv. a musical term meaning softly. 2. n. keyed percussion instrument first named pianoforte because it could play both softly and loudly. plaintive (pleyn-tiv) adj. expressing sorrow or melancholy; mournful: a plaintive melody. Pluto (ploo-toh) n. Classical Mythology. a name given to Hades, under which he is identified by the Romans with Orcus. pomade (po-meyd) n. a scented ointment, especially one used for the scalp or for dressing the hair. poppet (pop-it) n. British Dialect. a term of endearment for a girl or child. portico (pawr-ti-koh) n. a structure consisting of a roof supported by columns or piers, usually attached to a building as a porch. postilion (poh-stil-yuhn) n. a person who rides the left horse of the leading or only pair of horses drawing a carriage. presto (pres-toh) adv. a musical term meaning very fast.


Proserpina (proh-sur-pee-nuh) n. Persephone. Classical Mythology . a daughter of Zeus and Demeter, abducted by Pluto to be queen of Hades, but allowed to return to the surface of the earth for part of the year.


quack (kwak) n. a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill. rake (reyk) n. a dissolute or proigate person, especially a man who is licentious. scale (skayl) n. a series of notes arranged in descending or ascending order of pitch. scrutinize (skroot-n-ahyz) v. to examine in detail with careful or critical attention. semitone (sem-i-tohn) n. a half step or half tone, an interval midway between two whole tones. sharp (#) (shahrp) n. any note a semitone higher than another note. Also, slightly too high in pitch. soprano (so-prah-noh) n. the highest female or boy's singing voice. stage (stayj) n. a platform on which a public performance is given before an audience. stake (steyk) n. something that is wagered in a game, race or contest. symphony (sim-foh-nee) n. a long musical composition (usually in several parts) for a full orchestra. synopsis (si-nop-sis) n. a summary, a brief general survey. Thyrsis (thur-sus) n. a staff tipped with a pinecone. tone (tohn) n. 1. an interval equal to two semitones. 2. the sound quality of an instrument or voice. trice (trahys) n. a very short time; an instant: in a trice. trifle (trahy-fuhl) adj. a small or inconsiderable amount. unsavory (uhn-sey-vuh-ree) adj. socially or morally objectionable or offensive: an unsavory past; an unsavory person. vain (veyn) adj. excessively proud of or concerned about one's own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited valiant (val-yuhnt) adj. boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted: a valiant soldier. Venus (vee-nis) n. Greek counterpart: Aphrodite, the Roman goddess of love verismo (vuh-riz-moh ) n. realism in opera. Voluptuary (vuh-luhp-choo-er-ee) n. one whose life is devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury and pleasure. zephyr (zef-er) n. a gentle, mild breeze. From Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Š Random House, Inc. 2012.

The School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission Pedro A Ramos, Chairman

Sounds of Learning™ was established by a generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation.

Lorene Cary, member Joseph A. Dworetzky, member Feather Houstoun, member Wendell E Pritchett, member Tom Knudsen Acting Superintendent and Chief Recovery Officer

Dennis W. Creedon, Ed.D. Office of Comprehensive Arts Education Director/Principal

Opera Company of Philadelphia David B. Devan General Director

Robert B. Driver Artistic Director

Corrado Rovaris Music Director

Michael Bolton Director of Community Programs

Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning™ program has been provided by: $20,000 to $49,999 Hamilton Family Foundation Presser Foundation Universal Health Services Wells Fargo Foundation Anonymous

Written and produced by: Opera Company of Philadelphia Community Programs Department ©2012 1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. 19102 Tel: (215) 893-5927 Fax: (215) 893-7801 Michael Bolton Director of Community Programs Rachelle Brisson Community Programs Intern

$10,000 to $19,999 The ARAMARK Charitable Fund at the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program BNY Mellon Wealth Management Eugene Garfield Foundation The Hirsig Family Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation Lincoln Financial Foundation Morgan Stanley Foundation Dan Cooperman Community Programs Volunteer

Dr. Dan Darigan Curriculum Consultant

Special thanks to: Robert B. Driver

The Opera Company of Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The William Penn Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Lenfest Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Independence Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The Opera Company of Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

$5,000 to $9,999 Alpin J. & Alpin W. Cameron Memorial Trust Bank of America Charitable Foundation GlaxoSmithKline The McLean Contributionship Samuel S. Fels Fund Silver Bridge Advisors

Caitlin Carnes

$1,000 to $4,999 Louis N. Cassett Foundation Mutual Fire Foundation

Laura Jacoby

Moore College of Art and Design, Emerging Leaders in the Arts program

Dr. Dennis W. Creedon Creator, Sounds of Learning™ Curriculum Consultant

Dr. Dan Darigan West Chester University Department of Literacy

Tullo Migliorini EMI Records Maureen Lynch Operations Manager Academy of Music

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Academy of Music Ushers Debra Malinics Advertising Design Concept

Kalnin Graphics Printing

Center City Film and Video Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Department

2011 2012

Opera Company of Philadelphia

OPERA at the Academy Carmen

Abduction from the Seraglio

Manon Lescaut

September 30, October 2m, 5, 9m, & 14

February 17, 19m, 22, 24 & 26m

April 20, 22m, 25, 27 & 29m




AURORA SERIES Chamber Opera at the Perelman Elegy for Young Lovers

Dark Sisters

March 14, 16 & 18m, 2012

June 8, 10m, 13, 15 &17m



* The Kimmel Center Presents Curtis Opera Theatre’s production in association with Opera Company of Philadelphia

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