Opera Home

Skip Navigation


Opera Basics
Kentucky Opera
Die Fledermaus
Field Trip
Related Links
Back to KET KET Electronic Field Trips
Kentucky Opera

Classroom Resources

KET and KET2
You can turn to KET and KET2 to see operas and many of the great opera stars such as Luciano Pavarotti, Cecila Bartoli, and Placido Domingo. Check KET's program guide, Visions, or your the television listings in your local newspaper for times and dates.

Student Activities

These prompts can be adapted to any opera, not just Susannah. We have used Susannah as an example.

Writing to Learn Prompts

Writing to Learn activities are written by students to capture his or her own reactions to a variety of experiences with themselves as the primary audience. Connections can be made to the following Kentucky's Academic Expectations: 1.3 Construct meaning through observing 1.11 Communicate via writing 2.23 Analysis of artistic products 6.3 Expand knowledge Following are possible pre and post performance prompts for students.

Pre Performance Prompts

  • What do you know about opera?
  • What do you want to know about opera?
  • What questions do you have about the storyline?
  • What concerns do you have about attending the performance?
  • What stereotypes about opera specifically, and the arts in general, are commonplace in late 20th century American society?

Post Performance Prompts

  • What aspects of the performance interested you the most? (music, costumes, scenery, singing, storyline, etc.)
  • What did you learn from attending the performance?
  • If you were to consider a career in the performing arts, what aspects of the arts would you choose? (writing sample based only on your opera attendance)
  • With which character did you identify most? Why?

Writing to Demonstrate Learning

Writing to demonstrate learning activities provide students with the opportunity to show teachers or other assessors what they have learned. Connections can be made to the following Kentucky's Academic Expectations 2.23 Analysis of artistic products 2.24 Appreciation of the arts 2.25 Understanding of influences on the arts 2.26 Demonstration of diversity awareness

Open response questions invite students to apply their knowledge of concepts to new situations.

  1. During a performance of a play, ballet or opera, the audience is usually given clues about the time and location of the action. If you saw Kentucky Opera's production of Susannah, discuss three changes you would make to give the audience additional clues about the time and location of the events in the opera.
  2. Carlisle Floyd set his opera Susannah in New Hope Valley, Tennessee. The time of the opera is "the present." Discuss three ways in which the south and/or "the present" are identifiable within the opera.


Academic essays allow students to demonstrate their knowledge in a more formal way. Prewriting for the essay may require students to engage in research.

  1. Describe in essay format how the character of Susannah or a major character in the opera you saw changes from the beginning of the opera to the end of the opera. In your essay, include a description of the effect of the influence of other characters on her.
  2. Susannah is an opera that has often been referred to as a "folk opera." The characters' timeless emotions range from the innocence to malice. The opera is set in Tennessee, and was written in the 1950's. Rewrite the opera by changing the setting and era the action takes place. In your opera, be sure to accurately depict gender roles, religious connotations and relationships.
  3. Research 20th century American composers. Focus a report on 20th century American music on American opera. Evaluate the operas that have been written and the level of acceptance of these pieces have had by opera audiences. Recommend how these new works should be presented to audiences for wider appeal.

Writing Portfolio - Authentic Writing Prompts

  • Authentic writing, or writing for an authentic purpose in a "real world" context, is a writing style that is targeted to a non-captive audience that is less informed about the subject. Authentic writing pieces are suitable for inclusion and scoring in Kentucky public school writing portfolios.
  • Connections can be made to the following Kentucky's Academic Expectations 1.11 Communicate via writing 2.23 Analysis of artistic products 2.24 Appreciation of the arts.

Students write:

  1. A review of Kentucky Opera's production of Floyd's Susannah, targeting readers who have never been to an opera. Purpose: Evaluate the performance and persuade readers to attend other opera performances.
  2. A feature article for the school newspaper about some aspect of opera production in which they have a special interest, such as costume design, set design and construction, or education needed for a career in the arts.
  3. A brochure or article for other students their age who are attending an opera for the first time. Purpose: Tips for first time opera-goers on what to do before, during and after the performance to receive the most enjoyment and benefit from the experience.
  4. A technical review (as opposed to the traditional review which usually critiques the performance of actors/singers and the skills of stage directors) of the opera production. Evaluate the technical aspects (sets, lighting, costumes, makeup, sound, etc.) of the opera and their contribution to their enjoyment of the production.


Opera for Dummies
Great Operatic Disasters
Opera Anecdotes

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951
 Last Updated: Monday, 01-Dec-2008 15:28:23 Eastern Standard Time