Scottish Opera Launches Schools Project Based on Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love

Scottish Opera (SO) has announced a new project entitled The Elixir of Love: Three Ways to Stage an Opera, an enterprise aimed at pupils in the third year of secondary education, and focusing on the expressive arts curriculum including Music, Art & Design, and Drama.

These lessons are based around the 19th century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera The Elixir of Love (L’elisir d’amore) and was commissioned by the Company from members of the Expressive Arts Faculty at Largs Academy, North Ayrshire. The intention is to engage third year pupils’ critical thinking skills, that are transferrable through opera and across disciplines.

Faculty Leader of Expressive Arts at Largs Academy Craig Smith said “Our team thoroughly enjoyed writing these materials together and piloting them with S3 pupils here at Largs Academy. We really hope these materials will allow pupils throughout Scotland to rediscover the wonders of opera.”

SO has created a series of short films around The Elixir of Love, showing the same five scenes from three versions of the opera, each with its own creative concept and historical setting. The aim is for the young people to contrast and compare these different approaches, to explore how effectively each version delivers the narrative and based on the conclusions they arrive at and  to create their own ‘pitch’ for a theatrical interpretation of the opera. In the films, the pupils will also meet the director, set and costume designers, musical director and singers. These interviews will assist pupils in getting to grips with the fundamental elements of opera making.

The resources provide everything needed for an in-depth learning experience in school, making the world of opera accessible to young people and using expressive arts to build skills in decision-making, analysis and critical thinking.

With modules in Art & Design, Drama, and Music, these comprehensive resources include teaching notes, presentation slides, and worksheets for each topic, alongside audio and video resources to bring the learning to life. Easy-to-use lesson plans cover topics such as costume, prop and set design, musical analysis and performance, with a range of learning opportunities, from individual tasks and group work through to whole class discussions.

SO’s Director of Outreach and Education, Jane Davidson, said “Commissioned from a wonderful team of teachers at Largs Academy in North Ayrshire, Scottish Opera Education department is delighted to make our first teaching resources for Secondary pupils in over 10 years, available to every school in Scotland. We believe that the development of critical thinking skills is key to the success of every young person’s broad based learning experience, not just for the classroom, but for life. With The Elixir of Love, Secondary 3 pupils will explore the challenges presented by the myriad of opportunities, choices, decision-making and creative thought processes that must be considered when designing a dynamic and compelling ‘world’ for the characters in the opera to inhabit. “

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Irene Brown

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