The Libretto Cycle
By Pamela Gee
Teachers and students understand the terms and processes of cycles. Teachers teach the life cycle, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and even to recycle!! The lit of cycles goes on. Students listen and learn many cycles!
So to say that Opera by Children has a “cycle” perks teachers and students ears.
It is helpful to think in these terms when learning the use of the three ways that words are used in the creation of a libretto:
2- Songs and song structure
3- Recitative which are sentences turned to conversations that are sung!
Each sentence in the five sentence story structure or the 5 simple scenes needs to have each of these elements.
A simple way to remember that each of the 5 scenes or sentences of the opera story when in libretto form, first person present tense, needs each of these elements is to refer to it as a cycle.
First off in the cycle: Every story when transformed into a libretto begins with an action sentence:
(At rise, the beach volleyball players are setting up their nets)
It begins with “at rise” because that is a theatrical term for the first action the audience sees because it is revealed when the curtain raises or opens.
This action is easily identified as what the characters DO in the sentence before anything has changed…it is their NORMAL activity.
Second way words are created in the cycle: SONG. These short poem-like structures have rhythm, repeats and even rhyme!
These should be based on FEELINGS of the characters and how they feel about their Needs, Emotions, Wants and Underlying Beliefs. or NEWUBs
These should be easily identified in the sentence. It could be how the characters feel about their environment, the activity, or interaction with others.
Third in the cycle is: Recitative. These short statements or questions are combined in a conversation. They are to focus on information that is necessary for the audience to understand or communicate to jump start action.
So now you see that recitative bring us back to action…but it can lead us to song as well. However all three elements of the cycle should be in place before repeating parts of the cycle out of order.
See the LIBRETTO CYCLE visual below:
Create a poster of this icon for the class to see or create one like it with your own graphics capability!! It is helpful for the students to see this visual while they create their libretto!
The Libretto Cycle does eventually come to an end… in theatrical terms we call it the Finale!!! It is the big song that culminates everything and wraps it all up artistically for the audience in the end.
Have fun facilitating your class through the libretto cycle right to the GRAND FINALE!!