Music Key Stage 3
How does Mozart create relationships between characters through his use of ensembles in Così fan tutte?
Watch the clip for ‘Eccovi il medico, Signore belle’ asking students to listen for how many characters are singing and whether they all sing at the same time.
- Discuss answers and explain that there are two men together briefly at the beginning, but mainly there are three women, two of whom always sing together, and a man.
- Play again, listening with this in mind and also encourage to write a list of other adjectives to describe the ensemble e.g. urgent, lively, fast. Does it stay consistent throughout?
Explain that ensembles in opera show characters’ relationships with each other: sometimes they sing the same words and music if they are sharing the same thoughts, sometimes they sing at different times and with a different sort of music if they are arguing, sometimes they sing at the same time but with different words and music if they can’t hear each other but the audience can.
Send students into groups and ask to write a fantasy narrative of what is happening in the scene they have seen in the video, they should try to address the following questions: Why are two of the men only heard so briefly at the beginning? Why might there be two women singing at once? Why does a woman sing in a funny voice? Why is there a slower-seeming section in the middle? They are not aiming at the correct answer here but trying to find a fun/interesting explanation for all these features. Ask each group to share their answers before explaining the real synopsis at this point.
Compare 2 arias from the opera, perhaps ‘Come scoglio’ for Fiordiligi and ‘E amore un ladroncello’ for Dorabella, looking at how Mozart’s musical choices paint very different characters. Perhaps using instead or in addition, the arias of The Queen of the Night and Sarastro from Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
- Write a short description of a modern day character. In a subsequent lesson, combine with a partner and write a short joint composition trying clearly to show the two different characters through music. Perform to class.