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Developing a Libretto


Length: 1-2 days



Language Arts, Performing Arts

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

Students will break into groups and, using the direction cards, will develop an improvised scene from their card. They will conclude by taking a scene and developing dialogue for it.


TV/video player
CD player
Bulletin board

Materials: The Black Dog Opera Library Series
video starring Pavoratti (Jean Pierre Ponelle film version)
Hand Outs: Direction cards
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 an understanding of the process of libretto creation by developing dialogue from certain situations.


Cooperative learning skills
Group process
Group tasks
Creative writing task
Individual hands-on activity


Instructional Plan:

1. Begin by reviewing the motivations of the three main characters as developed in Lesson 3.

2. Divide the class into several groups of about five or six. Give each group a direction card found at the end of this unit.

3. Have each group improvise a short scene based on the characters and the problem on their direction card. They may duplicate the plot line in the opera or change it to fit their own solution.

4. Present the scenes in an order reflecting the order in Rigoletto. After the scenes are presented, discuss how the scenes varied from the similar scenes in the opera.

5. Point out that they have just begun to develop a libretto. A libretto is sort of like the "play" of the opera. It is the words on which the music will be composed.

6. Ask each student to select one of the scenes from the opera synopsis and develop a short dialogue from the scene. The dialogue need not be more than one page long, but should include most of the elements of the scene.



Were the students able to clearly express the ideas in their scenes?


Continue to lesson 6.

Teacher References:

Black Dog Opera Series Rigoletto CD


Submission Date: November 1, 2000

© ARTSEDGE, 2000