I consider it a masterpiece in the fullest sense of the word: one of those rare compositions which seems to reflect most strongly in itself the musical tendencies of a whole generation.”

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Step 1 – Think-Group-Share

Individually students will write, in point form, the answers to the following questions:

1. What did you like about the opera? What did you dislike?

2. What did you think about the sets, props and costumes?

3. Would you have done something differently? Why?

4. What were you expecting? Did it live up to your expectations?

5. What did you think of the singers’ portrayal of their characters?

Break the students into groups to discuss their feelings and reactions to the production. Have the students write on poster papers their answers or important points of their discussion. Encourage the students to go beyond the questions posed. Place their poster papers on the walls.

Step 2 – Class Discussion

Have the whole class examine the poster papers and discuss the different ideas from each group.

Step 3 – Outlining your review

Go over the essential aspects of a review including: a clearly stated purpose, a coherent comparison/contrast organizational pattern, a summary paragraph capturing the interest of the reader, precise nouns, revision for consistency of ideas. You might give your students a few samples of reviews for fine arts events from the newspaper as examples – or ask them to bring in some reviews they find themselves. Have the students fill out the review outline worksheet below. Once this has been completed, students may write their rough draft.

Purpose (why are you writing this and who is your audience?)

Plot Synopsis (including who sang what role, etc.)

Paragraph 1 (compare and contrast, things you liked or didn’t like)

Paragraph 2 (compare and contrast, things you liked or didn’t like)

Paragraph 3 (compare and contrast, things you liked or didn’t like)

Summary/Closing Paragraph

Step 4 - Peer Conferencing

Students will exchange reviews to critique and edit. Encourage the students to focus on effective coordination of ideas in sentences and the correct use of grammar and punctuation.

Step 5 - Creating the final draft

Have students make the appropriate adjustments to their reviews. You could also have the students type the pieces up and organize them into a newspaper.

Optional Activity #2 – A 19th Century Newspaper Review
Be a music critic in France. Students imagine they are living at the time of the first performance of Carmen.
Step 1 - Historical Research

Students will need to learn about the historical context in Spain and France in the 1870s, around the time Bizet composed Carmen. They may want to learn more about what was happening in other art forms (e.g., literature and painting).

Step 2 - Writing the Review

Students may want to create a newspaper in which their review is included. The review itself could incorporate quotes and/or headlines from actual historical reviews. The students’ reviews can follow a similar outline to that for the activity above, but they must remember the time period in which they are writing. If they design a newspaper, they can try to use similar type styles (font) and page layout as were used in the 1870s.

Optional Activity #3 – Create a Costume, Set, Poster, News Ad, or Press Release

  • Sketch a costume for a character in Carmen. The costume can be traditional or modern.

  • Draw a set for a production of Carmen. The set can be traditional or modern.

  • Design a poster for Carmen Student Night at the Opera, including the date, the time, and the people involved. The poster can be traditional or modern.

  • Create a newspaper ad for Carmen. Include whatever you feel is the biggest "selling point" of the opera - what makes it exciting? Why should people come to see it?

  • Write a press release about Carmen Student Night at the Opera, including the date, the time, the people involved, and why it would be exciting or fun to attend.

Optional Activity #4 - Discussion Questions
1. What is Carmen’s philosophy of how she will lead her life?

2. How does Carmen’s philosophy compare with that of Don José?

3. Why was Micaëla introduced into the libretto? What does she represent?

4. Compare the characters Micaëla and Carmen.

5. Contrast the music sung by Micaëla and Carmen.

6. Compare and contrast the characters Don José and Escamillo.

7. Describe the function and importance of the chorus.

8. Do the chorus add to the sense of realism?

9. What is the function of the chorus in the final scene of Act IV?

10. Why is the opera’s most dramatic musical theme (leitmotif) called the “fate” theme?

11. How does Bizet’s use of this musical leitmotif foreshadow the end of the opera?

12. How would you describe the nature of Carmen’s character?

13. Who is the story about – Carmen or Don José?

14. Which character changes or transforms as a result of the plot? How?

15. Would you describe Carmen as a catalyst? Why?

16. How does Bizet’s music affect characterization and mood?

17. How does Bizet’s music support the realism of the story?

18. What elements seen on stage would have been shocking to audiences in 1875?

Manitoba Opera would love to receive a copy of any activities produced by the students. Please forward them to the attention of:

Sally Sweatman, Education & Outreach Coordinator

Manitoba Opera

1060 - 555 Main St., Winnipeg, MB R3B 1C3

204-949-0377 (fax), ssweatman@manitobaopera.mb.ca
Opera Comprehension Tests
General Opera
1. _____________________ A theatrical production incorporating both vocal and instrumental

music, drama, and sometimes dance.

2. _____________________ The lowest male vocal range.
3. _____________________ An instrumental introduction to an opera.
4. _____________________ The area where the orchestra is seated.
5. _____________________ The female vocal range lying between soprano and contralto.
6. _____________________ A song for solo voice in an opera.
7. _____________________ The highest female vocal range.
8. _____________________ A song for two voices.
9. _____________________ The lowest female vocal range.
10. ____________________ The Italian word meaning "little book."
11. ____________________ The middle male vocal range.
12. ____________________ He/she has the artistic view for the performance of the opera.

1. Bizet’s work as a composer has overshadowed how fine a ____________ he was.
2. Name an historical event that occurred during Bizet’s lifetime ____________________.
3. Carmen takes place in _______________________ (location & date).
4. Carmen is an early example of French ________________ opera.
5. The opera Carmen is based on on a literary work by ________________.
5. The libretto for Carmen was written by ______________________________.
6. The role of Don José is sung by a ______________________ (name the singing voice).
7. The role of Carmen is sung by a ______________________ (name the singing voice).
8. The role of Escamillo is sung by a ______________________ (name the singing voice).

1060 – 555 Main St., Winnipeg, MB, R3B 1C3

(204) 942-7470


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