Rigoletto Teaching Resources

English Key Stage 3

Rigoletto English Key Stage 3

Lesson one

Theme/ Activity headline: Introducing Rigoletto

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Spoken English: speak confidently and effectively, improvising, rehearsing and performing

Starter activity

Introducing Rigoletto

The opera Rigoletto contains all these ingredients (show Rig_makingpredictions.pptx or Rigoletto_plotelements.pptx):

  • a father
  • a daughter
  • a Duke
  • a jester
  • revenge
  • a curse
  • a kidnap
  • a knife

In talk partners, spend three minutes predicting the storyline.

Share and record some of these ideas (as well as any questions pupils have), so that you can refer back to them as a class.

Main activity

Introduce Rigoletto’s story through a ‘Whoosh’ (see Whoosh_Rigoletto.docx)

The whole class stands or sits in a circle. Explain that everybody will have an opportunity to join in telling the story by becoming characters or even objects in the tale. If at any time you say ‘Whoosh!’, they should quickly return to their places. Begin the narrative and as soon as a key character, event or object is mentioned, indicate the first student to step into the circle to make a shape or pose. If two or more characters are introduced, then they can step in at the same time.

NB differentiate and challenge when assigning pupils to roles.

Compare pupil plot ideas to the real plot. Are there any surprises?


Rigoletto is a jester. He tells jokes to entertain the Duke. For homework, do some research to find a joke that you think is really funny. Memorise it and don’t tell anyone in the class. You’ll need it in another lesson, so it must be suitable to tell in class!

Lesson two

Theme/ Activity headline: What’s the Worst Curse?

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Reading: increase familiarity with a wide range of books; make comparisons; summarise main ideas.

Starter activity

What’s the worst curse?

Rigoletto has a ‘father’s curse’ placed on him during the opera.

Partner talk: Do you believe in curses? Do you believe some things bring you bad luck?

Discuss: what superstitions do you know?

E.g. walking under a ladder; black cats; touch wood for protection; opening an umbrella indoors; putting new shoes on the table.

Do you have any of your own superstitions?

Main activity


In ‘home’ groups of three, pupils research curse stories together. Resources are suggested. This could also be a library lesson:

Pupils should make notes to help explain their ‘curse’ to someone else. Next, pupils go into ‘rainbow’ groups where they will present their curse to two other pupils.

When everyone has presented, discuss together: which curse is the most awful? Why? Pupils must explain their opinions. Then take a vote: which ‘curse’ is the worst?


Write a story or poem inspired by a superstition or a curse. Will your character escape the curse, or succumb to it?

Lesson three

Theme/ Activity headline: Jokes and Consequences

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Spoken English: speak confidently and effectively, in a range of formal and informal contexts; and writing: plan, draft, edit and proofread, considering how their writing reflects the audiences and purposes for which it was intended.

Starter activity

Jokes and consequences

In talk partners, pupils practice telling their best joke. Next, pupils circulate and tell their joke to other pupils. They each should have three tokens to give to the best three jokers.

Time for the final slam! The three pupils with the most tokens tell their jokes in front of everyone. Vote for the best!

Main activity

Rigoletto is a jester for the Duke. This means his job is to make jokes for the Duke’s entertainment.

Rigoletto’s jokes are a problem because they are mean. They cause the members of the Duke’s household to dislike him and want revenge. He gets cursed and his daughter is kidnapped.

Have you ever been in a situation where a joke has gone wrong?

Watch the video and discuss: what could have gone wrong? Do you think the punishment was right? Was anybody else at fault?

Teacher: pick out the features of the TV news report you’ve watched with the class, and model/guide a report with the class.

Pupils now write the script for a news report on the kidnapping of Gilda by the angry courtiers, or the curse that is put on Rigoletto.


What’s the difference between these types of ‘joke’? Can you write a definition for each of them?

Prank, one-liner, pun, slapstick, roast.

Use a dictionary to help if needed, but make sure your definition is in your own words.

Lesson four

Theme/ Activity headline: What makes a good father?

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 7-9: Writing: write for a wide range of purposes and audiences, including arguments, and personal and formal letters.

Starter activity

Rigoletto keeps his daughter, Gilda, locked away from the world to protect her. Does this make him a good father or a bad father?

What is the right age to be allowed to:

  • Go to the shops alone.
  • Ride your bicycle on the road.
  • Choose your own clothes.
  • Fall in love.
  • Have a mobile phone.

Write down your answers by yourself. Compare and discuss with a talk partner.

Has your partner’s view changed your mind about any of your opinions?

Main activity

What rules relating to your age or gender do you think are unfair? Discuss in talk partners for three minutes.

Write a letter about a rule relating to your age and/or gender, explaining your point of view:

Make sure you plan your letter and include:

  • the right level of formality for the person you are writing to;
  • at least three reasons why the rule is unfair;
  • at least one reason why you can understand that the rule is important
  • a solution to the problem!

Teachers: model the planning and writing process for this letter.


Write a reply to your letter, arguing the opposite point of view!

Image credits: Rigoletto, Festival 2019, artwork by Shadric Toop

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