Task: How do composers take their listeners on an emotional journey?

Key Stage 2

  • Discuss in groups: What crazy things do people do for love? Think about different examples: melancholic, sentimental, joyous, ridiculous, unrequited, successful, fairytale. Make connections with films, novels + real-life. Share ideas.
  • In small groups, listen or watch 2 short excerpts from Don Pasquale: one, which is funny and light-hearted in style, and another, which is imbued with pathos, empathy and sentimentality. In your groups, create a ‘freeze-frame’ of a scene in which character X is trying to ‘woo’ or marry character Y. Does character X get their feelings hurt? Choose either a funny scenario or a more serious scenario. Perform these and discuss styles and techniques used.
  • The freeze-frames can be developed into a flowing sketch. Think about using mime and percussion/melodic instruments. Has the mood from the freeze-frame stayed the same?

Key Stage 3

  • In small groups, listen to a musical excerpt which displays the more serious feelings in the opera (for example: Act 2, 1, Povero Ernesto). Can you hear any musical devices/ techniques that Donizetti has used to create atmosphere? Even if we cannot speak Italian, how do we know what kind of mood Ernesto is in?
  • Now listen to a contrasting excerpt and watch the video in the bel canto section of the site; a virtuosic duet between Don Pasquale and Doctor Malatesta. Why is this funny? Discuss contrasting musical devices used.
  • What is a ‘patter’ song? In pairs, create your own ‘patter song’ on the topic of LOVE. How are you going to keep the beat? Think about rhythm and words. Any style? Rap? Beat boxing? Perform to each other and discuss.

Key Stage 4

  • In pairs, study some short score excerpts (for example from Act 2,1 + Act 3, 10). Circle and annotate significant musical devices that help to create a certain mood, style or atmosphere, using technical terms.
  • In small groups, create your own short musical theatre piece. Think about using percussion instruments or melodic instruments and voice. Is it going to be funny or more serious?…or both? Experiment with extremes: create music that sounds funny, staccato and very fast or slow, smooth and serious. Perform and discuss positively as a class.
  • Type up elements of the composition into Sibelius if desired.