To print, select "Print" from your browser's File menu. Close this window when you are done to return to the screen-based version of the lesson.

What is the Structure of the Story?

Lesson 1 of the Discovering Opera Unit

Length: 1-2 class periods



Language Arts, Performing Arts

Subtopics: Theater, Music, Literature
Intelligences Being Addressed: Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence; Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
Dimensions of Learning: Acquisition and integration of knowledge

The second lesson continues to explore the theme of the story and discuss comedy and tragedy as they relate to the structure of the complete story. The lesson asks the question, what does the overture tell about the story? It also discusses musical interpretations of the opera and the story line, and how they work together.


TV/video player
CD player

Materials: The Black Dog Opera Library Series video starring Pavoratti (Jean Pierre Ponelle film version)
Hand Outs: Rigoletto's Story; Part 1
Student Supplies: Pencil and paper
Teacher Internet Resources:

Lesson and Extension-Specific Resources: See unit overview

General Internet Resources: See unit overview


National Standards for Arts Education:
Music 5-8, Standards 6,7,8,9
Instructional Objectives:

Students will identify the elements of a story in Rigoletto.


Teacher-directed instruction
Hands-on student activity
Selected listening skills

Instructional Plan:

1. As a warm up, ask the students to name their favorite stories, movies or plays. What do they like about these stories? What makes a story good? Develop a list on the blackboard or a bulletin board.

2. Review the plot of Rigoletto. Read the second part of the story. Was the opera a tragedy or a comedy?

3. Create a story map for Rigoletto. Who does what? When do things happen? Add details.

4. The music for Rigoletto was composed by Verdi. Replay the Overture to Rigoletto (CD1, Tr1), and then play the selection that is associated with Monterone's curse (CD1, Tr7). Now that you know the whole story of the opera, what do you think that the overture is telling us?

5. Play selections from these moments in the story (you may excerpt these selections if you wish): Gilda's declaration of love (CD1, Tr16), The Courtiers trick Rigoletto (CD1, Tr18 and 19), Gilda sacrifices herself for the Duke (CD2, Tr16). Before playing the selections, read the translation of the libretto to the students. How does the music help to tell the story?

6. Have the students evaluate the story using the list they created in the warm-up. Is Rigoletto a good story by their standards?

7. Have the students draw a picture of Rigoletto and list his characteristics, both physical and emotional. Do they think of him as a good character or a bad one? Does he have elements of both?


Were students able to map out the main points of the opera plot with relevant details?


Continue to lesson 3.

Teacher References:

Black Dog Opera Series Rigoletto CD


Submission Date: November 1, 2000
© ARTSEDGE, 2000