Lesson 2: Exploring “Come Scoglio”

Aim: How do opera singers express emotion through dramatic storytelling?
Summary: Students will learn about opera and create dramatic gestures using Mozart’s “Come Scoglio.”
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio, Musical Explorers Student Guide
Time Required: 30 minutes (two 15-minute activities)
Standards: US 1, 2, 3.2, 4.2, 4.3; GA 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9; SC 1, 3, 4, 5, 6
Vocabulary: opera, aria, Mozart, range, soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass

Learn About Opera

  • An opera is a type of theatrical art form where everything is sung and set to music. As in plays or movies, operas can be dramatic or comedic, but all of the text is sung.
  • As a class, ask the students to come up with one happy or funny thing and one serious or sad thing that happened to them that week. Demonstrate, and call on individual students to try singing a line of text that represents their emotional response to the event, such as “Oh no!”, “I can’t believe it!” or even laughter.

    • How does the melody of what you sing tell the listener that it’s happy or sad?
    • What can we do to the sentences we sang to make them more musically dramatic or funny?
  • Lead students toward answers such as: sing higher, sing louder, sing softer, or whisper.
  • Listen to “Come Scoglio,” Track 23, and ask students if they think it is a dramatic, serious part of the opera or a comedic, funny part of the opera. Why?
  • Using SG27, teach students the different ways to congratulate opera singers.

Explore Dramatic Gesture in “Come Scoglio”

  • “Come Scoglio” (I am like a rock) is an aria sung by the character Fiordiligi (Fee-OR-dee-LEE-gee) from the opera Cosi fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). An aria is a song sung in an opera, usually by one person. “Come Scoglio” is challenging because of the range from very low to very high notes. It is even said that Mozart made this aria difficult on purpose because he didn’t like the singer who was hired to create the role of Fiordiligi.
  • In music, range refers to the distance between the lowest note and the highest note played or sung.
  • Rebecca is a soprano, the highest female singer in opera. Other voice types are mezzo-soprano (female, medium range), alto (female, low range), tenor (male, high range), baritone (male, medium range), and bass (male, low range).
  • Give your students background about the aria:
  • Guglielmo (Goo-lee-EL-mo) and Ferrando (Fair-AHN-doh) are arguing about whose girlfriend is more wonderful. They both talk about how devoted and loving their girlfriends are. Their friend, the old and wise Don Alfonso, wagers that he can make both of their girlfriends fall in love with someone else. Guglielmo and Ferrando take him up on his challenge, and they dress up in costumes and try to woo the other’s girlfriend. When they approach Fiordiligi, she sings the aria “Come Scoglio” or “Like a rock” because she wants everyone to know that she is not going to change her mind. She insists that the strangers go away and leave her alone.

  • Ask students to invent a strong pose that says “I am like a rock. Leave me alone!”
  • Listen to the beginning of “Come Scoglio,” Track 24.
  • Use the pronunciation guide and recording, Track 25, to say or sing the words with Rebecca as she sings.

Come Scoglio

Come scoglio, immota resta
Contra i venti e la tempesta!
Cosi ognor quest’alma e forte
nella fede, e nell’amor.
Con noi nacque quella face
che ci piace, e ci consola,
e potra la morte sola,
far che cangi affetto il cor.
Rispettate, anime ingrate,
questo esempio di costanza,
e una barbera speranza
non vi renda audaci ancor.

Like a rock, I stand immobile
against the winds and the storm!
My soul is strong
In faith and in love.
A light is born inside me
that gives pleasure and comfort,
and only death alone
can change the way I feel.
Respect, ungrateful creature!
I am an example of loyalty,
and not even your barbaric hope
can make you bold.

  • On the words “scoglio,” “resta,” and “venti,” ask students to stamp their feet on the ground, as if to say “I’m not going anywhere!”
  • When Rebecca arrives at “la tempesta” (the storm), ask students to stick their arms in the air. This part of the song is meant to sound like a storm. As the notes get higher, ask them to stand up a little higher. When Rebecca reaches the highest notes, ask them to stand on their tiptoes and wave their arms in the air like a wild storm.
  • Note that in addition to being louder, those notes are very high in her vocal range, which is what makes it so exciting.
  • Listen to the entire aria, Track 23, and create dramatic movements as a class to illustrate the words and the mood of the song (e.g., during quiet sections of the aria, create a soft, gentle movement as a class, such as swaying back and forth or gently waving arms).
  • Ask students to brainstorm a list of words that describe the high notes such as: powerful, vibrating, scary, high, loud, and exciting.

Creative Extension: Create Your Own Opera!

Create an opera as a class. Use one of the class’s favorite stories or movies, and imagine what it would sound like if everyone sang instead of speaking. Challenge your students to create different voices for each character, and different melodies based on different moods.

Literacy Link

Play, Mozart, Play! by Peter Sis

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was a child prodigy who was composing music and playing in public before the age of five. This story focuses on the highlights of Mozart’s career as a child musician, and asks students to imagine what it would be like to play music like Mozart.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words opera, aria, Mozart, range, soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass to the Musical Word Wall.

PDF Downloads

SG27 ↓ Download File