Don Giovanni Teaching Resources
English Key Stage 3
Exploring the storytelling technique of starting a narrative with a ‘bang’
Allow 2 minutes for students to think individually, writing down any words or phrases that the opening of the music makes them think of:
- What struck them about this music?
- Were there any common ideas?
- How does it ‘set the scene’?
- What are the dominant instruments, and what might this mean?
Remind students that the opera starts with a murder, and that one of the reasons that Don Giovanni is such a famous opera is because it is so immediately dramatic.
You can extend this activity by asking students to write an opening paragraph that features an immediate event using a different genre – sci-fi, romance, crime, children’s literature, etc. Ask them not to dwell on description; instead they should aim to make the story immediately interesting and exciting.
Spend a few minutes discussing fictional characters that are attractive, but are actually very bad. Examples might include anything from pop culture or literature such as the White Witch in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe or Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter.
- Discuss the archetype characters selected and why the loveable rogue is such a familiar figure in fiction.
Distribute the handouts that include a poetic translation of this aria.
Read the English translation, then ask the group to answer the following questions:
Would the students fall for such chat up lines? Perhaps they could discuss potential chat up lines. Why are some so cringe-worthy? How does Don Giovanni get away with it? Should he?
Students could be encouraged to write their own poems trying to woo someone. Furthermore, some students might be encouraged to use the same pattern as the English translation of this aria, which is in couplets of iambic pentameter. They might also be encouraged to include at least one simile, perhaps one metaphor, and to try and use a bit of moral blackmail.