STUDY GUIDE Otello Dead Man Walking The Marriage of Figaro
Table of Contents Festival Overview
Study Guide Objectives and Curriculum Connections
Dead Man Walking
Synopsis, About this opera, Classroom Activities
Synopsis, About this opera, Classroom Activities
The Marriage of Figaro
Synopsis, About this opera, Classroom Activities Vocabulary
Information about Vancouver Opera Education programs
Festival Overview Welcome to the study guide for the Vancouver Opera Festival! The operas being produced for the inaugural festival offer students multiple entry points into the artistic power of opera. Verdi’s Otello is opera on a grand scale. This production includes a large
chorus and orchestra along with grand sets and costumes. This is traditional opera with a sweeping score and dramatic story-telling. For students, it is an opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s tale of love, jealousy and betrayal through a musical & visual lens.
Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking is one of the most produced
contemporary operas in North America. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, the opera is shocking and honest in its exploration of the impact of violence on our communities and the struggles of the justice system to address issues of poverty and racism. For senior secondary students, the opera is a visceral example of the relationship between the arts and social justice.
Finally, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro will provide students with
the opportunity to hear Mozart’s glorious score and Da Ponte’s libretto in the intimate setting of the Vancouver Playhouse. With costumes designed by Canada’s Sid Neigum, the opera is both contemporary and rich in tradition. Filled with beautiful music and a hilarious story, The Marriage of Figaro puts issues of social class under scrutiny.
Along with the three operas being performed at the Festival, there are many other opportunities for students and educators to engage with Vancouver Opera. Opera Speaks with Sister Helen Prejean: Ethical Justice in the 21st Century • A panel discussion with Sister Helen Prejean, Shelley Joseph, from Truth and Reconciliation Canada, and Dr. Brenda Morrison, the Director for the Centre of Restorative Justice at SFU.
A Conversation with Jake Heggie
• The composer of Dead Man Walking joins David Gordon Duke from the Vancouver Sun for a public conversation about the future of opera in North America.
• A production for elementary students and up, Mistatim is a tale of reconciliation that combines dance, theatre, mask storytelling and music. Mistatim is produced by Ontario based company Red Sky Performance.
Work Experience program for Grade 11 and 12 students • An immersive backstage experience for secondary students.
Stage Fighting and Throat Singing Workshops Backstage Tours And so much more!
To learn more including time and location of all of the events on offer at the Vancouver Opera Festival, visit vancouveropera.ca
Colleen Maybin Director of Education and Community Engagement
Study Guide Objectives This study guide has been designed to be accessible to all teachers regardless of previous experience with music or opera. Teachers are encouraged to adapt the lessons to meet the dynamic needs of their students in music rooms, theatres and classrooms. The lessons are designed to engage students in learning about the opera they will be attending as well as thinking critically about art and its meaning. How deeply students go into this material will depend on each teacher. However, we do suggest the following as the minimum commitment to preparing for the performance:
• Students are familiar with the synopsis and at least one piece of music. • Students are able to identify the socio-historical context of the opera (when and where it was written). • Students are given the opportunity to reflect on and discuss their response to
The lessons are designed to be either Quick or In-Depth, and for Before the Performance and/or After the Performance to provide teachers with the flexibility to tailor lessons to their classrooms. Each lesson contains an Overview, specific Objectives and a list of the Materials needed for the activity.
Connections to the Curriculum The study guide has been prepared in accordance with the new BC Curriculum and targets secondary classes. Each activity addresses a “Big Idea” from the new curriculum and includes specific learning objectives. Elementary teachers will be able to modify the activities to meet the needs of their students with little difficulty.
Note about Dead Man Walking Dead Man Walking deals with the disturbing subject matters of murder, incarceration and the death penalty. The opera includes graphic depictions of violence and includes vulgar language. Thus, this opera is only suitable for students in Grades 11 and 12 and the subject matter must be addressed in advance of attending the performance.
Active Listening Repeated listening to select arias and choruses helps students to build a relationship to the opera before they see it. Recognizing a piece of music as it begins makes the experience of being in the audience very rewarding. Video excerpts from all three operas are available online and can be introduced to students using English translations (where required) of the lyrics. The following activity can be adapted to any opera excerpt.
Listening Activity Active listening activities build student capacity to describe music in the same way that they are able to describe text or visuals. Repeating the lesson with different styles of music will build their vocabulary. This activity is ideal for students with a variety of musical experiences as it encourages students to share their understanding of the material with others. Active Listening Repeated listening to select arias and choruses helps students to build a relationship to the opera before they see it. Recognizing a piece of music as it begins makes the experience of being in the audience very rewarding. Video excerpts from all three operas are available online and can be introduced to students using English translations (where required) of the lyrics. The following activity can be adapted to any opera excerpt.
1. Provide students with an English translation of the aria. Review the language and consider how is it structured. Is it written in clear stanzas? Does it rhyme? Is the language simple? Romantic? Threatening? Use highlighters to identify language that resonates.
2. Go deeper into the text by exploring the meaning of the lyrics. What are
the emotions being expressed through the language? What does the audience learn about the character?
3. Listen to the aria without the video. Brainstorm words to describe the music
including both music vocabulary and language that describes art and emotions in general.
4. Finally, watch a performance of the aria. How does the movement on stage reflect the lyrics as well as the music?
5. Review the synopsis of the opera. Have students consider where in the opera this aria might take place. After the performance, return to this discussion and have the students reflect on their initial thoughts.
Suggested selections from the festival include*:
• From Otello –“ Gia nella notte densa”
A beautiful duet between Otello and Desdemona
• From Marriage of Figaro – “non piu andrai”
Figaro taunts Cherubino before he is sent off to join the military
• From Dead Man Walking – ”He Will Gather Us All Around”
This spiritual introduces Sister Helen at the opening of Act 1
* All available on YouTube
3 Questions You Should Ask (and Have Answered) Before Coming to the Festival Opera is an art-form that benefits from “spoilers”; the more prepared students are in advance of attending the performance, the deeper and richer the performance experience will be! What is opera? Opera is an interdisciplinary experience in which singers and musicians put on a dramatic production. This means that, just as in musicals, music (sung and instrumental), theatre, and visual art (the set design and creation, as well as costumes and lights) come together to tell a story. Because opera was first popular in Italy, many of the words associated with it are from the Italian language. The word “opera” means “work” in Italian, as in “work of art”. Opera is usually written in the language of the composer and the language of the country it will be heard in. Opera has been around for a while (for a little over four hundred years, in fact!), and therefore opera-singers sing without microphones, which hadn’t yet been developed by the time opera started. Opera singers have developed a special singing technique in order to be heard over the orchestra without microphones. They sing so loudly that in order to protect each other’s hearing, they make sure not to face directly towards each other while singing.
What is it like to sing opera? If you were a top opera singer, you could make as much as $20,000 per performance! And what’s so hard about being an opera singer, you ask? Opera singers often have as many years of training as physicians. They must learn to have a voice powerful enough to project across a full orchestra, yet flexible enough to taper to a soft piano level when it is called for. Singers must also learn English, French, German, and Italian – even Russian and Czech! They must be able to memorize and sing many different operas (which can be up to 4 hours long!), and to dance and act while singing under hot lights. Critics and journalists are not always kind, and singers must also learn to brush off negative reviews in time to perform the same show the following night.
How does an opera go from words and notes on the page to fully staged performance? The first thing to happen is the assembly of a creative team which includes the music director, stage director, singers, orchestra musicians, and set and costume designers. Everyone works with the score and libretto to prepare for the first rehearsals. Opera singers are expected to arrive at the first rehearsal “off book”, meaning that they must have the entire score memorized in advance! Once the designers have completed their designs, artists and sewers work to create all of the props, sets and costumes. Lighting designers work with the stage director to add light and shade to the stage. At first the opera is rehearsed in sections – one scene at a time. During “tech week”, everyone moves into the theatre and all aspects of the opera from the acting to the music to the moving of the sets is practiced over and over again. Finally, opening night arrives. Et voila! There is an opera!
Otello By Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Arrigo Boito Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Cast and Artistic Team Conductor: Jonathan Darlington Director: Michael Cavanagh Scenic & Projection Designer: Erhard Rom Lighting Designer: Gerald King Chorus Director: Kinza Tyrrell
Cast Otello: Antonello Palombi Desdemona: Erin Wall Iago: Gregory Dahl Cassio: John Cudia Emilia: Megan Latham Lodovico: Thomas Goerz Roderigo: Martin Sadd Herald: Glenn de Verteuil Montano: Angus Bell
Synopsis ACT I Cyprus, late 19th century. During a violent storm, the people of Cyprus await the return of their governor and general of the Venetian fleet, the Moor Otello. He has been fighting the Muslim Turks and guides his victorious navy to safe harbor. In his absence, the young Venetian Roderigo has arrived in Cyprus and fallen in love with Otello’s new wife, Desdemona. Otello’s ensign Iago, who secretly hates the governor for promoting the officer Cassio over him, promises Roderigo to help win her. While the citizens celebrate their governor’s return, Iago launches his plan to ruin Otello. Knowing that Cassio gets drunk easily, Iago proposes a toast. Cassio declines to drink, but abandons his scruples when Iago salutes Desdemona, who is a favorite of the people. Iago then goads Roderigo into provoking a fight with Cassio, who is now fully drunk. Montano, the former governor, tries to separate the two, and Cassio attacks him as well. Otello appears to restore order, furious about his soldiers’ behavior. When he realizes that Desdemona has also been disturbed by the commotion, he takes away Cassio’s recent promotion and dismisses everyone. Otello and Desdemona reaffirm their love.
ACT II Iago advises Cassio to present his case to Desdemona, arguing that her influence on Otello will secure his rehabilitation. Alone, Iago reveals his bleak, nihilistic view of humankind. He makes dismissive remarks about Desdemona’s fidelity to Otello, whose jealousy is easily aroused. Otello’s suspicions are raised when Desdemona appears and appeals to him on Cassio’s behalf. Otello evasively complains of a headache, and Desdemona offers him a handkerchief, which he tosses to the ground. Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maidservant, retrieves it, and Iago seizes the handkerchief from her. Left alone with Otello, Iago fans the flames of the governor’s suspicions by inventing a story of how Cassio had spoken of Desdemona in his sleep, and how he saw her handkerchief in Cassio’s hand. Seething with jealousy, Otello is now convinced that his wife is unfaithful. The two men join in an oath to punish Cassio and Desdemona.
ACT III Iago’s plot continues to unfold as he tells Otello that he will have further proof of his wife and Cassio’s betrayal. When, moments later, Desdemona approaches Otello and once again pleads for Cassio, Otello again feigns a headache and insists on seeing the missing handkerchief, which he had once given her as a gift. When she cannot produce it, he insults her as a whore. Alone, he gives in to his desperation and self-pity. Iago returns with Cassio, and Otello hides to eavesdrop on their conversation, which Iago cleverly leads in such a way that Otello is convinced they are discussing Cassio’s affair with Desdemona. Cassio mentions an unknown admirer’s gift and produces the telltale handkerchief—in fact planted by Iago in his room. Otello is shattered and vows that he will kill his wife. Iago promises to have Roderigo deal with Cassio. A delegation from Venice arrives to recall Otello home and to appoint Cassio as the new governor of Cyprus. At this news, Otello loses control and explodes in a rage, hurling insults at Desdemona in front of the assembled crowd. He orders everyone away and finally collapses in a seizure. As the Cypriots are heard from outside praising Otello as the “Lion of Venice,” Iago gloats over him, “Behold the Lion!” ACT IV Emilia helps the distraught Desdemona prepare for bed. She has just finished saying her evening prayers when Otello enters and wakes her with a kiss to tell her he is about to kill her. Paralyzed with fear, Desdemona again protests her innocence. Otello coldly strangles her. Emilia runs in with news that Cassio has killed Roderigo. Iago’s plot is finally revealed and Otello realizes what he has done. Reflecting on his past glory he pulls out a dagger and stabs himself, dying with a final kiss for his wife. Synopsis courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera
About Otello Who wrote the opera? The most famous of all Italian opera composers, Guiseppe Verdi was born in Italy in 1813, the son of a spinner and an innkeeper. He composed his first opera Oberto at only 25, and it premiered to great acclaim at La Scala in Milan. A period of tragedy followed, however; two of Verdi’s children, as well as his young wife, died in 1840, and his second opera was a dismal failure. The harsher, fatalistic aspects of Verdi’s music are often credited to this difficult period of his life. With his composition of Nabucco in 1841, Verdi fixed his place as a “hero” of Italian opera. He went on to compose and produce operas at a furious rate of almost two operas a year, with the goal of having significant wealth upon his retirement.
Otello was written about twenty years into Verdi’s “retirement”, after his publisher enticed him back to work with a particularly beautiful libretto written by Arrigo Boito. With its continuous and nuanced score, Otello is often considered Verdi’s tragic masterpiece. Verdi began working on Otello in 1871, and it took until 1887 (16 years!) until the work was completed and premiered in Milan. The premier was a huge success, and the work went on to tour Europe and America. Verdi’s priority in composition was always drama, and he is known for having been one of the first to have bent the rigid conventions of bel canto to better accommodate the storyline. For example, his melodies tend to be more continuous with indistinct beginnings and endings. This flexibility allows his music to better match the drama taking place on stage. The librettist Arrigo Boito was born in Padua in 1842. He attended the Milan conservatory, and was a composer as well as a librettist. His youthful articles attacking Italian music and musicians greatly offended Verdi, and created so much hostility that there was a near riot at the presentation of one of his operas. It was only at the instigation of Verdi’s publisher and well into Verdi’s retirement that the two were finally reconciled. Boito wrote a revision of Simon Boccanegra for Verdi, as well as the libretti for his Otello and Falstaff.
How was the opera adapted? Boito’s libretto is based on William Shakespeare’s play Othello, written in 1603. Shakespeare is widely considered the greatest English writer of all time and his works have been translated into every major modern language. Othello was written towards the end of his career, and continues to be one of his most popular plays. An Opera is not a play; our art lives by elements unknown to spoken tragedy. An atmosphere that has been destroyed can be created all over again. Eight bars are enough to restore a sentiment to life; a rhythm can re-establish a character; music is the most omnipotent of all the arts; it has a logic all its own — both freer and more rapid that the logic of spoken thought, and much more eloquent. -The librettist Arrigo Boito in a letter to the composer Guiseppe Verdi Although the opera’s plot and characters do follow the play very closely, words that are sung take much longer than words that are spoken, and so Boito was forced to dramatically reduce the text. He ended up cutting the work down from an original 3500 lines to a mere 800. In doing so, he cut the entire first act of the play, although he made sure to insert some of the most famous lines (“She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them -”) later in his libretto. In addition, Boito adds a demonic “Credo” for Iago, in which Iago declares his belief in a cruel God, and a contrasting angelic “Ave Maria” for Desdemona. Both Boito and Verdi were so taken by the complexity of Iago’s character that the opera was almost titled after him instead of Otello. Verdi praised Boito’s additions as “Shakespearian” in character and quality. Otello is almost unique among operas in that Boito’s libretto is almost as acclaimed as Verdi’s musical setting of it. Usually, there is much more focus on the music than on than on the libretto.
Classroom Activities Lesson One: Mapping Connections Big Idea: Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world. Category: Before or After Performance, Quick Overview: Students will reflect on relationships between characters and how these might be physically expressed. Objective: Students will each assume the role of a character in the opera, before discussing the relationships between their characters and finally creating group tableaus representing these relationships.
Activity: 1. Students are divided into groups of 5-6 students. Each student is assigned a different character, and given a card explaining their role (see Materials section). If groups are smaller, it is important that at least Otello, Desdemona and Iago are present in each group. 2. Groups should choose a point in the Otello plot, and consider and discuss the relationships between the characters at this moment in the story. Who hates or loves whom; who is victim and who the aggressor? 3. Students will then consider how these relationships might be represented physically. Should Iago stand near Otello, because they are “friends”, or far from him, because Iago in fact hates Otello? Should one be standing behind or above the other? How can students use facial expressions and directions to demonstrate the complexities of relationships? And are these complicated when other characters are added to the mix? 4. Each group creates a “relationship tableau” based on the above questions. The groups present to the class. Can students guess who is who in the tableaus? Can they guess when in the plot the tableau takes place?
Lesson Two: Iago’s Credo Big Idea: Identity is explored, expressed and impacted through arts experiences Category: Before the opera, In-Depth Overview: Arrigo Boito added Iago’s “Credo” to the libretto; the speech does not exist in Shakespeare’s original. It is, however, considered by many to be a masterful addition, and Verdi’s musical setting of the text is equally inspired. In this exercise, students will tackle the complexities of setting music to text using the “Credo” before examining Verdi’s resolution to the same problem. Objective: Students will study Boito’s “Credo” text before creating their own musical settings. They will then listen to and discuss Verdi’s setting of the same text.
Activity: 1. Read Iago’s Credo (see Materials section) out loud with the students. Have them read as dramatically as possible! The Credo is divided into 4 sections. Assign small groups (2-4 students) to each sectio. More than one group can work on each section if needed 2. The students read their sections of the Credo, and determine four of Iago’s characteristics, beliefs or themes that it expresses. For example the text could demonstrate Iago’s obsession, cruelty or cynicism. 3. The students now have the task of creating a performance of their texts. They discuss how each of their characteristics might be expressed musically or theatrically, using only the means they have in the classroom. Tips and examples:
• Chanting could represent religion, destiny as a gong-like sound. • Aspects of texts can be repeated – a word or phrase could become the underlying rhythm of a spoken word reading.
• Is the text read chorally or by individuals? How loudly? How can changes in diction be utilized?
4. The students present their performed texts to the class, following the order of the original Credo. The following discussion can explore how the meaning of the text was impacted by the way in which it was performed. What worked particularly well? What didn’t? How did the experience deepen the students’ interpretation of the text? Were some texts easier or more difficult to set to music? Why or why not? 5. Listen to Verdi’s version of the Credo as a class, being sure to select a version with English subtitles (there is a version on YouTube with Wesley Thomas playing Iago). Discuss Verdi’s setting of the text. Did you he use any of the same techniques as the students? Did he use any new ones? How effective is his text setting?
Dead Man Walking By Jake Heggie
Libretto by Terrence McNally Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean
Cast and Artistic Team Conductor: Jonathan Darlington Directer: Joel Ivany Scenic & Projection Designer: Erhard Rom Lighting Designer: Gerald King Chorus Director/Assistant Conductor: Kinza Tyrrell
Joseph De Rocher, a death row inmate: Daniel Okulitch Sister Helen Prejean, a young nun from Louisiana: J’nai Bridges Sister Rose, co-worker and close friend to Sister Helen: Karen Slack Mrs. Patrick De Rocher, Joseph’s mother: Judith Forst George Benton, prison warden: Charles Robert Austin Owen Hart, father of the murdered girl: Thomas Goerz
Jade Boucher, mother of the murdered boy: Emma Parkinson Kitty Hart, mother of the murdered girl: Karen Ydenberg Howard Boucher, father of the murdered boy: Michael Barrett Sister Catherine: Heather Pawsey Sister Lillianne: Barbara Towell Father Grenville, prison chaplain: J. Patrick Raftery First Mother: Dionne Sellinger Mrs. Charlton: Heather Molloy Motorcycle Cop: Willy Miles-Grenzberg Prison Guard 1: Willy Miles-Grenzberg Prison Guard 2: DJ Calhoun Five Solo Inmates: Frédérik Robert, Peter Alexander, Adam Kozak, Kevin Armstrong, Angus Bell Older Brother, half brother to Joseph: Spencer Britten A paralegal: Julia Rooney
Synopsis PROLOGUE In rural Louisiana, a boy and girl sit beside a lake on a date. They listen to music and kiss. The De Rocher brothers, who are hiding close by, emerge. Anthony grabs the boy while Joseph begins to rape the girl. Anthony continues to struggle with the boy before taking out a gun and shooting him in the head. The girl screams at the sound of the gunshot. In a panic, Joseph stabs her until she goes silent.
ACT I At Hope House, Sister Helen Prejean is teaching a group of children a hymn. As the children leave, she tells her Sisters that she accepted a request from an inmate to be his spiritual adviser. The Sisters warn her of the dangers, but she remains firm that this is her duty. As she drives to the state prison she muses over her decision. When Sister Helen arrives at the prison she is met by Father Grenville. He warns her that De Rocher, the prisoner with whom she will be meeting, is unreachable. She tells the priest that it is her duty to help the man. Father Grenville introduces her to the Warden, who also warns her about De Rocher. Upon meeting De Rocher, Sister Helen finds him to be easygoing and friendly. De Rocher asks Sister Helen to speak at the pardon board on his behalf. Sister Helen agrees. At the parole board hearing De Rocher’s mother and brothers plead for his release. One of the victim’s parents, hearing De Rocher’s family’s pleas, lashes out in anger. Afterward, the victim’s families confront De Rocher’s family and Sister Helen. At that moment, word comes from the pardon board that De Rocher will not be pardoned – he will die for his crime, barring intercession from the governor. When Sister Helen tells De Rocher, he becomes angry and accuses Sister Helen of abandoning him. Sister Helen says she will not abandon him, but encourages him to admit to his crime and ask forgiveness. De Rocher, however, refuses. In the waiting room, Sister Helen searches for money in her purse for the vending machine. She begins to hear the voices of her students, her Sisters and others, telling her to stop helping De Rocher. As she is listening to the voices, the warden tells her that the governor will not commute De Rocher’s death sentence. Upon hearing this, Sister Helen faints.
ACT II A guard enters De Rocher’s cell to tell him that his execution date has been set. As the guard leaves, Joseph muses on his fate. Back at Hope House, Sister Helen wakes up from a nightmare. Sister Rose begs her to stop working with De Rocher, saying it can’t be good for her health. But Sister Helen says she cannot, as it is her duty. On the evening of De Rocher’s execution, Sister Helen and De Rocher are talking in his cell, discussing their mutual love for Elvis. Before leaving, Sister Helen urges De Rocher to confess and ask forgiveness, but he refuses. Mrs. De Rocher and her two other sons enter. De Rocher attempts to apologize to his mother. Mrs. De Rocher will not accept, choosing to believe that her son is innocent. As De Rocher is led away, Mrs. De Rocher breaks down and Sister Helen comforts her. Outside the execution chamber, Sister Helen meets with the victim’s parents. They ask if she is bringing them an apology from De Rocher. When Sister Helen says she does not have one, they again lash out in anger. The girl’s father takes Sister Helen aside and says he is not sure that he wants De Rocher to die and that the stress has damaged his marriage. Sister Helen consoles him and they part ways. With De Rocher’s impending execution, he and Sister Helen talk one last time. Sister Helen once more urges him to confess. He finally breaks down and confesses. Sister Helen forgives him and says that he must look at her during the execution and she will be his source of comfort. The warden comes to escort De Rocher to the execution chamber. In the execution chamber, the warden asks if De Rocher has any last words. Joseph asks for forgiveness from the parents of the murdered teenagers. The warden then gives the nod for the execution to proceed. As De Rocher dies, he tells Sister Helen that he loves her. Synopsis Courtesy of Lyric Opera Kansas City
About The Opera The opera is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s book of the same name. It follows her relationship with a prisoner, Joseph de Rocher, who is on death row, convicted of the rape and murder of two teenagers. Beginning as a pen pal with De Rocher, Sister Prejean becomes his spiritual advisor, aiding and standing by him and his family through a final appeal up until his execution. The opera is at once musically and dramatically gripping, and an important plea for humanity in our treatment of prisoners.
In a 2002 interview with Jason Serinus for the online audio-video journal Secrets: Home Fidelity High Fi, Jake Heggie said: “It’s not an opera about the death penalty. Everyone thinks immediately it’s an opera about the death penalty, but nowhere in the opera is it even debated. It’s an opera about love and redemption; the death penalty forms a backdrop to it because it tears at the core of it. It’s about parents and children. It’s an opera about how love can transform and redeem your life. It’s a very intimate story with enormous forces at work behind it. And it’s not an opera that preaches. It’s an opera that we hope takes people to a place of reflection where they can make up their own minds about their response. It doesn’t tell you what to feel.” Audience members have written in after the opera and thanked the company for speaking both for and against the death penalty. In other words, the message of the opera is what you take from it!
How should I prepare myself to see this opera? The work graphically addresses a number of painful topics, including rape, murder and the death of family members, and could be upsetting or triggering to viewers. It is important to discuss these themes with students beforehand, and make resources available afterwards (school counselors, etc), in case students are upset. This Study Guide can be a valuable resource in facilitating reflection on the opera’s themes, both before and after performance.
Classroom Activities Lesson One: Opinion Meter Big Idea: Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies. Category: Before and After Performance, Quick Overview: This activity provides students with an opportunity to personally reflect on the themes and dilemmas presented by the production. Objective: Students will share opinions by placing themselves in a location in the classroom, and discussing these opinions with classmates.
Activity: 1. Clear away desks and chairs to create an open space in the classroom. Label one side of the space as “Agree” and the other side as “Disagree” 2. Read the below statements aloud to the class. The students should move to the side of the room that fits their opinion. It is also possible for them to be somewhere in the middle (“Slightly Agree, etc). 3. Ask several students about their placement decisions. Are students interested in having a discussion around any particularly divisive concept? BEFORE THE OPERA Those who have hurt someone should be punished. We should always tell the truth. Those who have broken the law should be punished. The victim should have a say in how much someone is punished for a crime. In any trial or wrongdoing, retribution is most important. In any trial or wrongdoing, minimizing suffering is most important. AFTER THE OPERA The death penalty should exist in Canada for those who murder. Seeing the opera gave me more sympathy for Joseph de Rocher than just reading the synopsis. This was an important topic to create an opera about. Seeing this opera made me curious about the Canadian justice system. Seeing this opera made me reflect about my relationship with my own family. The opera made me think differently about capital punishment.
Extension Activity: What would the students like to know from their classmates’ reaction to the opera? Have each student submit a statement to be mapped out on the “opinion-meter” by the class.
Lesson Two: Rights and Responsibilities Big Ideas: Decision making in a democratic system of government is shaped by the unequal distribution of political and social power. Category: Before and After Performance, In-Depth Overview: This activity introduces students to the work of Sister Helen Prejean and explores the organizations and documents that impact human rights in Canada. The organizations below seek to challenge the power held by government in support of those without a voice. This includes children, animals and the planet. Objective: Students will use research and reporting skills to learn about human rights, animal rights and the environment. Their findings will be the foundation for a discussion around the role of advocacy and government in their lives.
Activity: Advocacy Jigsaw 1. Watch the video entitled Sister Helen Prejean from Amnesty International https://vimeo.com/140280762. 2. Divide the class into five groups. Each group is responsible for researching one of the following:
• Amnesty International • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples • Greenpeace • UN Rights of The Child 3. The research should answer the following questions: What is the organization or document? Who created it? Why was it created? What is its purpose? How does the organization or document impact life in Canada? Should it be more visible? Why or why not? Why are organizations and documents like this important? How could you use this information to advocate for a better life for everyone? 4. The students then work together to present their learning using visuals, written passages or presentations.
Lesson Three: The Four Rivers (Inspiration, Surprise, Challenge and Love)* Big Idea: Artists often challenge the status quo and open us to new perspectives and experiences. Category: After Performance, Quick, In-Depth Overview: This activity provides students with an opportunity to personally reflect on the themes and dilemmas presented by the production. The reflection is guided by four questions focused on how they experienced the performance. Objective: Students will consider the performance of Dead Man Walking by thinking and writing about their personal response to the opera.
Activity: 1. Students are introduced to the four reflective questions. The questions can be presented to the students collectively or on a hand-out. What were you inspired by in Dead Man Walking? What resonated for you? What surprised you about the performance? Consider all aspects of the opera including the music, the staging and the overall visuals. What surprised you emotionally? What did you find challenging? When were you uncomfortable? What made you feel connected to the opera? What made you feel connected to others in the audience? What about the cast? 2. Provide students with time to write or draw their response to the questions. Students can choose to respond to one question or all of them. 3. Encourage students to share their work in small groups. What did they notice about the reflections of their peers? 4. At the end of the class, provide students with exit slips to anonymously write down one idea or emotion that has stayed with them or a question that has come up for them. This slips can be collated to create an overall collage of the classes response to the story in Dead Man Walking. * Four Rivers is a reflective tool created by Angeles Arrien. This activity is adapted from edutopia. org/blog/7-doors-door-3-randy-taran
The Marriage of Figaro Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Cast and Artistic Team Conductor: Leslie Dala Director: Rachel Peake Scenic Designer: Drew Facey Costume Designer: Sid Neigum Lighting Designer: John Webber
Figaro: Alex Lawrence* & Iain MacNeil** Susanna: Caitlin Wood* & Rachel Fenlon** Bartolo: Ricardo Lugo* & Scott Brooks** Marcellina: Anita Krause* & Leah Giselle Field** Cherubino: Mireille Lebel* & Pascale Spinney** Count Almaviva: Phillip Addis* & Aaron Durand**
Countess Almaviva: Leslie Ann Bradley* & Lara Ciekiewicz** Don Basilio/Don Curzio: Christopher Mayell* & Ryan Downey** Antonio: Peter Monaghan Barbarina: Vanessa Oude-Reimerink* & Taylor Pardell** * April 30 | May 6 (matinee), 9, 11, 13 (matinee), 16, 18 ** May 6 (evening), 10, 12, 13 (evening), 17
Synopsis ACT I On the morning of their wedding day Susanna (maid to Countess Almaviva) and Figaro (the Count’s manservant) are in a room in the Count’s castle near Seville. Susanna reveals that the Count has designs on her, and Figaro determines to thwart his master’s aims. Next we meet Marcellina and Bartolo. Figaro is in debt to Marcellina and has promised to marry her if the loan is not repaid by this very day. Bartolo rejoices in the idea of forcing Figaro to marry his old housekeeper. Meanwhile, the amorous young page Cherubino tells Susanna that he is to be sent away; the Count has caught him misbehaving with Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter. Hearing the Count approaching, Cherubino hastily conceals himself. The Count enters and expresses his desire for Susanna, but they hear Don Basilio’s voice; now the Count is also forced to hide. Basilio describes in detail the castle gossip about Cherubino’s crush on the Countess; this infuriates the Count, who reveals his presence. During a trio, the Count reenacts his recent discovery of Cherubino’s misbehavior with Barbarina – only to discover the page once more hiding in a lady’s chamber. He angrily orders Cherubino off to the military, and the act ends as Figaro dresses Cherubino as a gentleman officer.
ACT II The Countess mourns the fading of her husband’s love. Susanna and Figaro enter. A plot is hatched to distract the Count from his pursuit of Susanna: Cherubino, dressed in Susanna’s clothes, will be sent to meet the Count in the garden at dusk. Figaro leaves, and Cherubino enters. He sings a love song he has written, then submits to being dressed as a girl. Hearing a knock on the door, Cherubino hides in a dressing-room; the jealous, suspicious Count enters and accuses his wife of having a lover concealed. The Countess maintains that only Susanna is there, so the Count goes to fetch tools with which to break the door down, taking his wife with him and locking all the doors in the room. Susanna then releases Cherubino, who escapes out of the window; she takes Cherubino’s place in the dressingroom. The Count and Countess return, and Susanna demurely steps out of her hiding place; the Count, baffled (as is the Countess), can only apologize to his wife. Figaro enters to gather everyone for the wedding, followed by Antonio the gardener, who complains noisily about flowers that were damaged by a man jumping out the window. Figaro, immediately understanding the situation, claims that he was the jumper and starts to limp as proof. Marcellina enters with Dr. Bartolo and Basilio to insist that Figaro marry Marcellina as a legal promise for his unpaid debt. The act ends in confusion.
ACT III Susanna assures the Count she is prepared to comply with his desires (with the promised dowry, she figures she can pay off Marcellina and marry Figaro). But the Count overhears her remark to Figaro that “our case is won” and is furious to think that his servant can enjoy what is not available to himself. So after a short trial he decrees (as the ruling lord) that Figaro must pay up or marry Marcellina. But he loses his two allies when it becomes clear that Figaro, a foundling, is in fact Marcellina’s long-lost son; further, Bartolo is his father. The wedding, Marcellina and Bartolo decide, must now be a double one. The plot to ensnare the Count continues, as the Countess dictates to Susanna a letter making an assignation. They seal it with a pin, to be returned in answer. A group of peasant girls, led by Barbarina and including the disguised Cherubino, come to bring flowers to the Countess. Figaro urges that the party and dancing should begin. During the festivities Susanna slips a note to the Count, who (observed by Figaro) pricks his finger while opening it. Act Four Barbarina, in the darkness of the garden, has lost the pin the Count asked her to give to Susanna. She confides in Figaro, who believes the worst of Susanna but hides himself as she and the Countess enter, having exchanged clothes. Now “Susanna” (the Countess in disguise) awaits the Count, who arrives to escort her into an arbour. Seeing “the Countess” (Susanna), Figaro advises her that the Count is with Susanna; in her response, she forgets to disguise her voice, and the truth dawns on him. The two act a charade for the returning Count who is enraged to discover (as he thinks) Figaro and his wife expressing passionate love. The Count summons all and sundry to witness his wife’s flagrant infidelity. All beg him to forgive her, but he is adamant – until the true Countess’s voice joins the ensemble. At once he realizes what he has done, and kneels to ask her forgiveness; she cannot withhold it. All go joyfully to banqueting and fireworks. Synopsis courtesy of Robert Holliston, Pacific Opera Victoria
About The Opera The Marriage of Figaro was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. It is based on a play of the same name written by Pierre Beaumarchais. Mozart + Da Ponte’s opera premiered in Vienna on May 1st, 1786. The Marriage of Figaro balances hilarity and suspense with a deep knowledge of the pain that love can bring. It is an opera that has proved, and continues to prove, its place as the most famous comic opera ever written.
Born in Salzburg in 1756, Mozart demonstrated unusual musical proficiency from a very young age, composing his first short pieces at only five years of age. Mozart’s father Johann Georg Leopold Mozart, was a violinist and composer at the prince-archbishop’s court in Salzburg. Leopold (as he was called) had no scruples about exhibiting his young son Wolfgang and talented daughter Nannerl, and the children performed before many important audiences throughout Austria, England and France. By the time he began work on The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart was probably the most accomplished 30-year old the world has ever seen, with dozens of symphonies, concertos, chamber works and masses to his name, not to mention 18 operas.
The Marriage of Figaro represented Mozart’s first joint venture with the librettist (textwriter) Lorenzo Da Ponte. Lorenzo Da Ponte was Jewish by birth, and converted to Catholicism at 40 years of age, in order to marry the Christian woman he had fallen in love with. As a young man, Da Ponte escaped from Venice to Vienna to avoid charges of seducing a married woman. There, he made contact with a number of composers (including Salieri and Soler) and began writing libretti. After a serious of failures, Salieri Da Ponte became an in-demand librettist. He wrote the libretti for three of Mozart’s most famous operas: Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Cosi fan tutte. After working with Mozart, Da Ponte moved to London and then to Philadelphia, where he became at intervals a school teacher, a grocer, a businessman, and finally a professor of Italian Literature at Columbia College. It was in his 80s that Da Ponte persuaded the people of New York to build their first opera house, likely the first opera house in the United States. The 1780s in Europe was a time of political, economic and social unrest. Agricultural innovations meant that the role of the peasantry was increasingly precarious, leading to bitter feelings towards noble landlords and government officials. Cities continued to grow, and the traditional city leaders and master craftsmen had to find ways to accommodate many new workers. Leaders throughout Europe were conscious of this unrest and tightened their holds on their power, leading this period’s name of “ the age of the enlightened despot”. Indeed, the play that the opera is based on, The Marriage of Figaro by Frenchman Pierre Beaumarchais, shocked the king so much with its daring depiction of the nobility and interactions between social classes that he censored it for several years. When Beaumarchais finally rewrote the play to the king’s liking, it was so popular with the public that it earned more at the box office than any other play in the 1800s. In fact, Beaumarchais’ play is often said to represent a foreshadowing of the French Revolution, which occurred in 1789, only three years after the premier of Mozart’s opera. When Da Ponte wrote his libretto, he changed an angry speech by Figaro against inherited nobility into an angry aria against unfaithful wives, in order to avoid censorship of the opera.
What is the “droit du seigneur”? The “droit du seigneur” is a french phrase that translates to “the lord’s right”. This was a supposed legal right in medieval Europe that allowed a lord to bed any woman of a lower class on her wedding night. There is no record of this being the case in Europe, and it certainly was not the case in the 1800s. Many believe that Beaumarchais included this plot point in order to highlight and exaggerate the unfairness of class relations.
Why is the boy’s character of Cherubino played by a woman? Young boys are often played by woman in opera because women’s voices are higher, more in the range of a young boy’s. Imagine how strange it would be to hear a “young boy” singing with a deep voice! These roles - in which woman play boys’ roles- are called “pants roles” or “trousers roles” in opera.
Classroom Activities Lesson One: Social Status and Advantage Meter Big Ideas: Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies. Category: Before the Performance, Quick Overview: Students will think critically about social status in Figaro and its role in society today Objective: Students will place themselves in a room according to the social status and accompanying advantages of the opera character they have been assigned.
1. Give out the role cards found in the Materials section of this guide to all students. It doesn’t matter if roles are repeated. 2. Have students line up in a single line shoulder to shoulder through the middle of the classroom. The students should respond to the following questions as if they are the character on their card. For every “yes” answer, they take a step forward. For every “no” answer, they take a step back. For answers that they are unsure about, they should stay in place: I am an employer. I can express romantic interest (flirt!) with whomever I like with no consequences. I have control over where I live. I am in a healthy romantic relationship. I am an older male, and therefore have ultimate control over my household and money. I have good friends. I am highly educated. 3. The students should examine where they stand in the room. What do the different positions in the room represent? Are there different ways in which some characters are more or less advantaged? Which “advantages” can the characters influence, and which must one be born with? Are the students with the same characters standing in similar places in the room? Why or why not? Now use the students’ remarks to lead a conversation about social status today. What are today’s markers of social status? How does someone acquire or lose it? Can the students find current roles or positions that might be analogous with the role that they were assigned from the opera?
Lesson Two: If You Want to Dance... Big Idea: Music uses a unique sensory language for creating and communicating. Category: Before the Performance, In-Depth Overview: Students will think critically about how music and text can work together to create characters with complex emotions and beliefs. Objective: Students will analyze the text and music of Figaro’s aria using guiding questions and hints.
Activity: Figaro sings his famous aria, “Se vuol ballare”, after he learns that the count has designs on his fiancée. Together, the text and the music convey Figaro’s mounting rage as well as his chafing at the social order. 1. Distribute copies of the English translation of “Se vuol ballare” to the students (found in the Materials section of this guide). Read through the text together with the students. Then have them read through it again while listening to the aria. Note: The times markings below are in reference to Bryn Terfel’s performance of Figaro on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MdXqtQ1vJQ. 2. Lead your students in a discussion of the following questions: A) How does Figaro’s mood change throughout the piece? How is this expressed through the music? Leading Questions: Is it easy to be subtle when angry? When is Figaro more or less subtle in his aria? What do you think Figaro is referring to when he talks about dancing? Somersaulting?
Figaro begins the piece with his anger just barely under control , expressed through biting sarcasm. As the stanzas progress, Figaro becomes more and more agitated and his anger becomes increasingly obvious (“ All these schemes/ I’ll overthrow them”). As he repeats the first stanza, we once again have the impression that he has pulled himself under control. B} How does Figaro’s mood change throughout the piece? How is this expressed through the music? Leading Questions: What volume do you associate in-control anger with versus out-ofcontrol anger? At what volume does Figaro begin his aria? How do the ends of his sentences or musical phrases change as the piece progresses (listen to 0.27sec)? Do you speak more quickly or more slowly when you are angry? How does the tempo of the middle of the aria compare with the tempo towards the end (compare 1:32 with the beginning)? Figaro begins his aria lightly and softly; he is angry, but in control of his emotions. As the piece progresses, he begins to lose control, first at the ends of his phrases and then more generally. The orchestra follows suite, becoming louder and more involved. The aria also becomes less controlled in its tempo as it progresses; it is markedly quicker towards the end than at the beginning. C) How are Figaro’s feelings about social class expressed through the text? Leading questions: How does Figaro’s role change between the first and the second stanzas? Does he use language of rebellion anytime in the aria? Figaro inverts the social hierarchy between the first and the second stanzas, morphing from the count’s accompanist to his teacher. In the second to last stanza, he talk openly of rebellion. D) How are Figaro’s feelings about social class expressed through the music? Leading Questions: Do you recognise the type of dance that Figaro sings at the beginning? What about at 1:30? Does one of these sound more “aristocratic” than the other?
Figaro begins with a waltz. This is traditionally an aristocratic dance, and Figaro insolently appropriates it to express his disdain for the count.
Waltzes always occur in triple meter; try counting “1, 2, 3/ 1, 2, 3” along with the piece, to feel how you might dance to it. You can also watch a video of waltzing on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRTVoN95miM Around 1:30, Figaro switches to singing a contra dance, a dance traditionally done by peasants. Contra dances are always 64 beats long (although not here!) and counted in groups of 8. You can watch people contra dancings here: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcYOIXIMfJQ. This could be thought of as his losing control and reverting to his “roots”. Extension activity: As the students have noticed through the above exercise, Mozart uses allusions to styles of music in order to further Figaro’s social commentary. If you were going to set the above text to modern genres of music, which would you use and why? Work in groups to make a modern version of Figaro’s aria using music you know or write your own music. Perform your modern arias to the class.
Vocabulary Bel canto – operatic singing originating in 17th century and 18th century Italy and stressing ease, purity, and evenness of tone production and an agile and precise vocal technique Credo - from Latin meaning “I believe”. An idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group Aria - an accompanied, elaborate melody sung by a single voice Libretto - the text of a work for opera Maestro/Maestra - an eminent composer, conductor, or teacher of music Music director (conductor) - the leader of a musical ensemble Stage director - person who supervises the production of an opera usually with responsibility for action, lighting, music, and rehearsals *All definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster at merriam-webster.com
Materials - Otello Lesson One Character Descriptions Name: Otello Position: A Moorish, Viennese General and husband to Desdemona. Description: You have just returned from a major military victory to your beloved wife, Desdemona. You are very glad to see her because your love is passionate; you even eloped some years ago against her father’s wishes. Iago has, however, hinted that she might not be faithful to you, and you are extremely suspicious and jealous. You would do anything to ensure that she does not end up with another man. With regards to your men, you are powerful, confident, and quick to discipline. One sentence from you can stop fighting between your subordinates. You are deeply trusting of your men, and especially of Iago.
Name: Iago Position: A battle-hardened veteran of Otello’s army, and husband to Emilia. Description: You are the self-proclaimed villain of the show. Misogynistic, racist, and jealous, you demand revenge for every perceived insult. You are furious that Otello recently chose Cassio instead of you for promotion to lieutenant, and you plan to punish both of them for it. You are also a social chameleon and a master manipulator, and hardly anyone knows of your plotting. Despite being given no grounds to do so, you suspect your wife of infidelity, and are cruel to her because of it.
Name: Cassio Position: A young, academically-trained Florentine officer in Otello’s army. Description: You are a gallant gentleman, very likeable and trusting, especially of Iago. You have been newly promoted to lieutenant by Otello and are crushed when you are demoted due to a drunken fight. You are willing to fight to convince Otello of your worthiness for the position, even if that means asking his wife, Desdemona, to talk to him for you. You, have a healthy, although secret, romantic relationship with a woman named Bianca.
Name: Desdemona Position: Otello’s wife, a woman of high-birth in the Viennese court. Description: Young and beautiful, you refused all suitors before she met and fell in love with Otello. You are fond of Iago and Cassio, having spent some time with them when Otello was off to war, and you enjoy joking with Iago. You are rather naive and have a hard time understanding when Otello begins to become jealous, also not cluing in that you should perhaps stop championing Cassio in his quest to be re-promoted. Although Otello can be violent in his jealousy and suspicion, you remain loyal to him and unwavering in your love. Name: Roderigo Position: A young courtier Description: You are desperately in love with Desdemona, and recruit Iago’s help in winning her over. Naive, you hardly perceive how much of a puppet you are to Iago, playing along with his mockery, and eventually murder of, Cassio. Name: Emilia Position: Desdemona’s Lady-in-Waiting, and husband to Iago. Description: You are mistreated by your husband, Iago, who believes incorrectly that you are having an affair. You are not afraid to speak your mind, sometimes in a fiery manner, and you are willing to defend Desdemona’s honour even to Otello’s face. You believe in telling the truth, even at risk of death.
Materials - The Marriage of Figaro Lesson One Character Cards Almaviva: In Barber, Count Almaviva was the fervent young hero, who, with the help of the barber Figaro, courted and won his beloved Rosina, now the Countess. The Count and Countess are a couple who in another part of the story were young and in love. They were supposed to live happily ever after, but their marriage has gone sideways. Now, three years later, the Count is a rich, bored serial philanderer who still manages to be furiously jealous of his wife. He’s been on the prowl for girls throughout the countryside and has turned his eyes to his own household, specifically Susanna, Figaro’s fiancée. Almaviva is even prepared to reinstate the droit du seigneur (the feudal right of the lord of the manor to sleep with his servant’s bride) to have his way with Susanna. Countess: Still in love with her husband, the Countess Almaviva handles her husband’s neglect with dignity and grace (along with the occasional fainting spell, eased by a dose of smelling salts). But she’s not above plotting with her maid Susanna to teach the Count a lesson and perhaps win back his love. Susanna and the Countess are as close to friends as two women of their separate classes can be. Figaro: Wily and good-humoured, Figaro is no longer a barber, but instead valet to the count. And today he’s marrying Susanna, whom he loves dearly. Figaro is a dab hand at improvising his way out of awkward situations, but, let’s face it, he’s not quite as smart as Susanna. Although he’s known Almaviva for years, he’s clueless about the Count’s predatory intentions toward Susanna until she enlightens him. Susanna: Susanna, the Countess’ maid, is probably as close to perfect as a girl can be: pretty, smart, charming, resourceful, quick-witted, and practical. She sees through Almaviva’s plans to give her and Figaro a bedroom that’s a little too close for comfort to those of the Count and Countess; she stands up for herself, not only to the Count, but also to her fiancé. Cherubino: Cherubino, a teenage page, is an adorable scamp who has just discovered girls. He has a huge crush on the Countess, but that doesn’t stop him from fooling around with Barbarina. He’s clearly an Almaviva in training. When Almaviva learns that Cherubino has eyes for the Countess (and knows about the Count’s attempts to seduce Susanna), the hapless page is packed off to the army. But he pops up like a bad penny, only to be dragged into Figaro’s plot to disguise him in women’s clothes so as to catch the Count in flagrante delicto.
Barbarina: Barbarina, Susanna’s cousin, is the daughter of the gardener Antonio. Very young, very pretty, a little ditzy, she is just discovering the power of her charms. She has been caught fooling around with Cherubino, but she has previously had a fling with the count – and is quickly learning to use that fact to her advantage. Dr. Bartolo: Dr. Bartolo had, in Barber, been Rosina’s guardian. He still carries a grudge against Figaro for foiling his attempt to marry Rosina. As a result, he is in cahoots with Marcellina to force Figaro to marry her. Marcellina: Marcellina is Dr. Bartolo’s spinster housekeeper and Rosina’s old governess. Figaro owes her money and has promised to marry her if he defaults. As Marcellina would much rather have a husband than the money, her hopes lie in ensuring that Susanna refuses the Count’s advances so that he will take revenge by forcing Figaro to marry Marcellina. But then Figaro mentions his birthmark and we learn (gasp!) that Marcellina is Figaro’s mother. Now we’re in for a double wedding! Don Basilio: Don Basilio, the music teacher, is a self-righteous, malicious creep, who curries favour with the Count, acts as a go-between in the Count’s attempts to seduce Susanna, and enjoys gossiping and stirring up trouble. Antonio: Antonio, the gardener, is Barbarina’s father and Susanna’s uncle. When Cherubino escapes from the Countess’ bedroom by jumping out the window, Antonio goes on the warpath in an effort to find the scoundrel responsible for crushing his carnations. As Antonio is given to drink, Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess try to discredit him, but he knows he saw a man jump from the balcony, and he’s pretty sure it was young Cherubino. Character descriptions courtesy of Pacific Opera Victoria
The Marriage of Figaro Lesson Two Se Vuol Ballare- English Translation If you want to dance Signor Contino, The guitar I’ll play it. If you want to come To my school The somersault I’ll teach you. I’ll find out... but slowly, It’s better every mystery To conceal I can uncover them! The art of evading, The art of endeavouring, Here pricking, There joking, All these schemes I’ll overthrow them. If you want to dance Signor Contino, The guitar I’ll play it.
Further Resources Otello Wonderfully clear and detailed background information, from biographies to musical analysis. http://www.pov.bc.ca/pdfs/otello_study_guide.pdf A step-by-step listening guide from Pacific Opera Victoria can be found at http://www.pov.bc.ca/otello-music.html Fantastic listening guide with guiding questions. http://files.coc.ca/studyguides/otellostudyguidelisteningguidefinal.pdf A tenor reflects on what itâ€™s like to take on the role of Otello. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/sep/05/verdi-otello-role-approach-caution-stuartskelton-tenor-eno
Dead Man Walking Sister Helen Prejeanâ€™s website, including her biography, and details about her work towards abolishing the death penalty in the United States. http://www.sisterhelen.org/ A study guide put together by Central City Opera in Chicago. Begins on page 22. https://centralcityopera.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/OperaInsider2014ForWeb.pdf An in-depth interview with composer Jake Heggie and baritone Jason Serinus about Dead Man Walking. http://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_9_2/feature-article-dead-man-walking-interview-4-2002.html Dead Man Walking Film: There is a major motion picture staring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn titled Dead Man Walking. This might be a good way to introduce your class to the topic, or to begin a discussion on the similarities and differences of various methods of story-telling.
The Marriage of Figaro A short, upbeat documentary about the opera put together by San Diego Opera Talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDfx7apEDIc An in-depth study guide by the Metropolitan Opera. http://www.metguild.org/guild/templates/Utilities.aspx?id=45719&terms=cosi The complete Marriage of Figaro score http://imslp.org/wiki/Le_nozze_di_Figaro,_K.492_(Mozart,_Wolfgang_Amadeus) https://www.nmc.ca/pdf/Active_listening_Guide.pdf
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OPERA CAMP Write, stage and perform an original opera! Opera camp is a fun-filled musical and theatrical experience. Children and youth will learn about all aspects of producing an opera from writing the libretto and score to designing costumes to performing on stage. The Teen Intensive includes master classes as well as opportunities to create and build the set.
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The operas being produced for the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival offer students multiple entry points into the artistic power of opera.
Published on Mar 28, 2017
The operas being produced for the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival offer students multiple entry points into the artistic power of opera.