L'elisir d'amore Teaching Resources

English Key Stage 3

L'elisir d'amore English Key Stage 3

Lesson one

Theme/ Activity headline: Researching love potions.

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Read increasing challenging material and make critical comparisons.

Starter activity

Researching love potions.

In L’elisir d’amore, Nemorino drinks a love potion to try to make Adina fall in love with him.

Timed race: how many stories with potions can students think of in two minutes?

Main activity

Design a table together in order to research and compare love potions in different stories. What should the categories be? (e.g. colour, taste, smell, cost, effect)

In the library, or at ‘stations’ around the room, pupils research and make notes on three works containing love potions.

(Suggested texts for KS3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Tristan and Isolde; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).


Compare the potions: how does the writer present them? Write an essay to evaluate which one you think is the best use of a potion, explaining why.

Lesson two

Theme/ Activity headline: What makes a happy relationship?

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for information including arguments and summarising and organising material, and supporting ideas and arguments with any necessary factual detail.

Starter activity

What makes a happy relationship?

Dulcamara and Adina sing ‘I have riches, you have beauty’ as if these could be essential ingredients for love. But what do you think are the essential ingredients for a happy relationship? Watch the news clip about Britain’s longest marriage.

In your view, what’s the secret to a happy relationship?

Main activity

Design a questionnaire and use it with the other members of your class to find out what they think on this subject. Discuss and define qualitative and quantitative data. This survey will gather quantitative data.


Write an essay including summaries of the arguments you’ve researched on the topic: ‘What makes a happy relationship?’

Lesson three

Theme/ Activity headline: Investigating army recruitment posters.

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Reading: understand increasingly challenging texts, making inferences and referring to evidence in the text, and knowing the purpose, audience for and context of the writing.

Starter activity

Investigating army recruitment: is all fair in war?

In order to get rid of Nemorino as a love rival, Belcore signs Nemorino up to the army and sends Nemorino off to war. Nemorino only does it for the money. What other reasons are there for joining the army?

In pairs, pupils list as many pros and cons of joining the army as they can think of.

Main activity

Teacher guides analysis of an example (see army poster) Pick out the use of direct pronouns, the emotive image of a home and a child, the use of rhyme).

Investigate army recruitment adverts.

In groups, pupils research and compare:

  • A First World War recruitment poster
  • A Second World War recruitment poster
  • An American army recruitment poster
  • A recent UK army recruitment poster

Present your findings to the class. All members of the group must present!


Design your own recruitment poster / or a poster for peace.

Lesson four

Theme/ Activity headline: Turning comedy into tragedy.

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: improvise, rehearse and discuss language use and meaning, using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact

Starter activity

Using a Whoosh (see here), recap the story of L’elisir d’amore, with members of the class joining in and representing characters and objects in the story.

Main activity

In small groups, pupils choose three key moments from the opera and devise a freeze-frame for each moment.

See some of these performances. Can the rest of the class guess which moments were chosen?

Teacher: explain that this opera has the features of a comedy: a twisting love story, with a wedding and a happy ending.

Discuss: if it were a tragedy, how would it change? E.g. is Belcore upset at his treatment? Does Nemorino really join the army? Is Adina forced to marry Belcore after all?

Pupils now choose one of their key moments and develop it, devising a scene where the play becomes a tragedy.

Perform and discuss these scenes.


Rewrite the ending of L’elisir d’amore as a tragedy. Or, do you prefer comedies or tragedies? Why? Write an explanation.

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

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