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Why Do These Characters Act This Way ?


Length: 1-2 class periods



Language Arts, Performing Arts

Subtopics: Theater, Music, Literature
Intelligences Being Addressed: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Musical/Rhythmic, Verbal/Linguistic
Dimensions of Learning: Acquisition and integration of knowledge, Extension and refinement of knowledge

Using the individual characteristic drawing from the last lesson, students will expand on the character development of both Rigoletto and Gilda. They will do this through analyzation of the music, the libretto, and the story line.


TV/video player
CD player

Materials: The Black Dog Opera Library Series CD starring Pavoratti (Jean Pierre Ponelle film version)
Hand Outs: Rigoletto's Story; Parts 1 and 2
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 demonstrate the relationship between character and plot development.


Teacher-directed instruction/discussion
Cooperative groups
Critical thinking strategies
Group discussion
Guided activity
Independent student work

Instructional Plan:

1. To begin, discuss the students' drawings of Rigoletto. How do they see him as a character? What are his good points and his bad points?

2. Return to the story map that the students constructed in the last lesson. Follow the character Rigoletto through the events of the story. At each event ask the following questions: How does he feel? Why does he feel this way? (Example: In the opening scene, Rigoletto feels happy because he gets to make fun of anyone he wants, and the Duke will protect him.)

3. As a group or on their own, have the students repeat this process for the Duke and for Gilda.

4. Read the libretto for the following selections and then listen to the arias: The Duke's Philosophy (CD1, Tr3), The Duke Grieves Over the Loss of Gilda (CD2, Tr1 and 2), The Duke's Song (CD2, Tr12). What do these pieces of music tell us about the Duke? Do you think that he is really as sad as he seems in the second selection?

5. Replay Gilda's declaration of Love (CD1, Tr16). What does this music tell us about Gilda?

6. On a sheet of paper, ask the students to describe ways in which the tragedy of the story could be avoided. If they were the Duke, how would they act differently? If they were Rigoletto? If they were Gilda?



Do the students' papers reflect an understanding of how the character flaws in each individual contribute to the unfolding of the tragedy?


Continue to lesson 4.

Teacher References:

Black Dog Opera Series Rigoletto CD


Submission Date: November 1, 2000

© ARTSEDGE, 2000