Don Giovanni Teaching Resources

Music Key Stage 4

How does Mozart use his music to bring to life the personalities of the characters in Don Giovanni?

As with key stage 3, ask the class to create a database connecting musical elements with characters and personalities.

Play a section of the extracts provided for each character, preferably more than once, and ask the pupils to describe what sort of people are being represented by the music. Using musical terminology where possible and, with structure and guidance as necessary, analyse what it is about the composer’s musical choices that lead the listener to draw certain conclusions about the character, even when sung in another language.

Drawing pupils’ ideas together in a class discussion, put the characters in brief context of the plot. (Here there is opportunity for research and extension work as desired, see the extensions suggested below.)

Look at Deh, vieni alla finestra in more depth. Using an English translation, discuss the meaning of the text and how Mozart’s music relates to this. Discuss whether the context is still relevant today.

As a composition and performance task, in groups, ask pupils to modernise the text. Using any available instruments groups should reimagine the song in a different, modern, genre (pop, rap, country etc) and perform it to the class.

Extension

Researching the origins of the Don Juan myth and its various versions and adaptations throughout the centuries.

Listening to different performances and, through a discussion of subjective and objective criticisms, discuss and evaluate the differences and similarities. This could be extended to writing reviews as a homework task.

Researching the life and times of Mozart, biographically and historically, perhaps going as far as to explore class divisions and how these affected the characters in Don Giovanni.

Homework: Performance and composition

Ask pupils to write a short modern character description and also a text that would be sung by their character. In groups, set this text to music using any available instruments and based on what has been learnt from studying Mozart.

To extend the task, develop the characters together as a class, then discuss relationships and plot, so that when each group’s piece is combined it comes together to form one continuous story.

 

Homework: Listening, reading and writing

Ask pupils to research the meanings of opera seria and opera buffa. Pupils should come to understand and describe the origins of the terms, what sort of stories they involved as well as examples of composers who wrote them. They should find an example of an aria from each genre and, using what they have discovered from their research, describe how the composer has used the music in each style to represent the characters. This task could also be executed through presentations.

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