Share the Glyndebourne website for Agreed.
- Divide the class in half, to create team Orientis and team Aquila.
- Appoint a scribe for each team and explain that the teams will be competing in a challenge.
- They will have 10 minutes to name as many professionals/professions as possible involved with the making of an opera.
Ask the students to read the synopsis and identify the four main characters. Then highlight the political language in one colour and love/folk-tale/fantasy elements in another.
- Political language: elected leader, control, power, resources, new law, peace movement, communities, ambassadors, propose, agreement, boundary, move freely, unrest spirals, conscience of people, leader and accountability.
- Love/Folk-Tale/Fantasy Elements: Orientis, Aquila, song sounds, dream, Maya, Elin, Korimako, falls in love, heartbroken, taken by spirits, tears of the people form rivers and song sounds again.
Discuss the results as a class and then explain that Agreed is a new opera that was composed and written in 2018.
Ask the students: if you were to compose and write an opera based on contemporary issues, which are relevant to your life, what subject matter might you choose? What would your opera be called?
Q: Ask the students to write a definition for the role of a librettist.
A: The story teller, the one who writes the words. Stage directions and words which accompany the music. Derived from Italian libro = book.
Then debate the three essential elements of a good story (character, location and plot).
Ask students to identify a number of effective ways to start a story.
A: Character/location description, action, flashback, direct authorial address etc.
Then consider how this is different for a librettist writing a new opera which is not based on an existing novel. Share the stage directions from the Prologue of Agreed:
"Night. On the shores of Orientis. The only sounds are of the island, of waves breaking. The moon rises. A group run in, swiftly dragging a person along the shore, tormented and writhing. They tighten their hold and quicken the pace, moving like a storm. They leave the body and run. The only sound is the night. Eeire. Of the the wind folding itself over the waves."
Explain the need for brevity in stage directions. Ask the students to write a detailed and descriptive opening page to this story, which focuses on the location and action but only briefly makes reference to the characters.
- Q: Ask students to identify important elements for a detailed character description.
- A: Physical description, speech/dialogue, actions/behaviour and backstory.
Explain that Korimako is the first named character to appear in the Prologue. Share the Myth of Korimako document. The name is inspired by myth, the storyline is not an attempt to retell it.
Students plan a detailed character description for Korimako based on the synopsis and following stage directions.
- Korimako kneels and tenderly extracts a bone from the arm of the body. It comes away gently and is washed clean by the water, staining the moon’s reflection. Lifting it up, it glints under the moon. The bone is made into a magic flute and Korimako begins to play as the body drifts away in the current. The spirits enter, following its sound, responding to its melody.The spirits play and dance, honouring the death. They leave one by one, Korimako is the last to go. They fade, dissolving gradually into the sounds of the island.
Ask students to continue their story of the prologue, including a detailed character description of Korimako and the spirits.
This is not set in New Zealand, but in a timeless, fictional place. Therefore, Korimako could be of any ethnicity.
Ask the students to work in pairs to identify and record the similarities between Elin and other tragic heroines.
Example: Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) & Elin (Agreed)
- Controlling and powerful fathers
- Idealistic young women
- Suffer a forced separation (exile) from their lovers
- Tragic death that forces other to examine their conscience
Ask the students to complete the short story of Elin, Alex and Maya. Encourage students to interpret the end of this tale freely.
Read aloud to each other and discuss the range of differing interpretations and endings to this story.