L'elisir d'amore Teaching Resources

Art and Design Key Stage 4

L'elisir d'amore Art and Design Key Stage 4

Lesson one

Theme/ Activity headline: Working from observation look at the work of Artists- shapes and forms of vessels

Visual elements: Composition, Shape, Light, Colour

Starter activity

What are quack doctors?

What are Charlatans?

Can you look at images of Quack doctors and Charlatans such as: Pietro Longhi ‘The Quack Doctor

Why do you think people bought things from these people?

How do artists draw attention to central figures in their works?

Discuss compositional devices.

Main activity

Look at and analyse images and depictions of charlatans, quack doctors and vaudeville.

Draw out an image/s of a quack doctor. Think about costume and posture.

You can use images seen and researched but try to incorporate your own ideas.

Develop a selling pitch for a remedy. Write it down. Think of keywords.


Look at posters for Vaudeville.

If you were trying to sell your elixir, what costume would you want?

Lesson two

Theme/ Activity headline: Look at and record travelling showmen, stalls and wagons. Fonts, patterns and colours

Curriculum attainment targets: Pattern, Colour, Line

Starter activity

Explore the graphic work in posters in the Art Nouveau style and the work of Alphonse Mucha.

  • How has the artist used colour to convey a message?
  • How are lines used?
  • How would you describe the lettering- look at the shape, the positioning and the scale?
  • Do the images look realistic, imaginary or dreamlike?

Main activity

Look at and record travelling showmen, stalls and wagons. Fonts, patterns and colours.

Look at images of travelling showmen and women, medicine men and their entourage with stalls and wagons.

Using either a net design for a wagon, barrow or a template for the side of a wagon, or using a simple rectangular format, design and record patterns, colours and text for a travelling wagon. Try to link this to the influence of Art Nouveau and or psychedelic posters.

You might just do this as a samples and ideas rather than a final outcome.
Bright, quick colouring and drawing media will suit this such as pens, pencils and coloured inks.

You might incorporate key symbols and clues as to the content of the wares.


Look at and record Art Nouveau and psychedelic poster design.

Lesson three

Theme/ Activity headline: Look at and explore and experiment with costumes of jesters and showmen

Curriculum attainment targets: Line, Shape, Colour, Pattern

Starter activity

Make a drawing of a top hat.

What accessory would you attach if you were a travelling salesperson /assistant selling an elixir? 

What is the role of a jester? What does a traditional jester’s costume look like?

Main activity

Look at and explore and experiment with costumes of jesters and showmen

In the 2019 Glyndebourne production L’elisir d’amore the character Dulcamara has a sidekick or assistant.

He wears a top hat and the costume and mannerisms were in part inspired by vaudeville characters. He also wears a bodysuit suggesting body art and tattoos. 

Design a hat for such a character. 

Design a section of body art- a sleeve for this character.


Make a title page for the character in your sketchbook. Think about lettering and design of the whole page.

Are you going to include some information? Some images? Will you choose a background colour? Will the page have a border?

Lesson four

Theme/ Activity headline: Design and produce a costume and/ or hat/ or banner for either Dulcamara or his assistant

Curriculum attainment targets: Colour, Pattern, Lettering, Composition

Starter activity

Look at the work of Léon Bakst and the Ballets Russes.

Main activity

Design and produce a costume and/ or hat/ or banner for either Dulcamara or his assistant inspired by the work of Bakst and/or Art Nouveau artwork studied.

This could be:

  • A drawing
  • A series of sketches
  • A coloured design on paper using pens, inks, watercolours
  • A 3D piece
  • A textile piece
  • A poster/ banner design which could be on paper or produced digitally
  • A series of photographs exploring props, costumes, portraits, ideas on the theme of smoke and daggers, jesters, charlatans.
  • In all cases consider colour, pattern, lettering, composition.


Photograph or scan your outcomes and using a program, design a poster for the opera L’elisir d’amore.

Image credits: L’elisir d’amore, Festival 2011, photo by Bill Cooper

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