BEVERLY SILLS: MADE IN AMERICA chronicles the life and career of the international opera star, showcasing her vocal skills as well as the personality, charm, and work ethic that helped her to succeed. In this lesson, students will learn about the basics of the operatic voice and gain a broad understanding of the art form. In addition, they will examine the personality traits and life skills Beverly Sills possessed that helped her to realize her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer. Finally, the lesson will explore how Sills influenced the world of opera and helped broaden its appeal in the United States through her appearances on television with leading celebrities of the time.
Approximately five to six 45-minute class periods
Music, Theater, and Language Arts
1. Participate in brainstorming activities about opera as well as a discussion about the characteristics of opera performances.
2. Utilize Internet resources to learn about opera, including specific information about male and female operatic voices.
3. Discuss the differences between operatic performances and the vocal performances heard on mainstream radio and seen on television.
4. Participate in class discussions about various life skills exhibited by Beverly Sills.
5. Utilize critical viewing and note-taking skills to record key information about the life of Beverly Sills and her contributions to opera as an art form.
6. Participate in class discussions and complete written responses about the life, contributions, and significance of Beverly Sills as a performer and a role model.
7. Utilize group work skills and Internet and other resources to research specific operas performed by Beverly Sills. Each group will create a poster that is part of a timeline documenting Sills' career and present their findings to the class.
A copy of GREAT PERFORMANCES' BEVERLY SILLS: MADE IN AMERICA
Various art supplies (optional)
Access to Internet and library resource materials
Access to word processing and desktop publishing software (optional)
Prep for Teachers:
Prior to teaching the lesson, record the broadcast of BEVERLY SILLS: MADE IN AMERICA (check local listings to determine if and when the program will air in your state), review the program for content, bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer, and download the necessary plug-ins. Print out and make copies of the related student handouts: Operatic Voices and Viewing Guide.
Bookmark the following sites:
GREAT PERFORMANCES: BEVERLY SILLS: MADE IN AMERICA
Click on the Opera Basics link.
San Diego Opera: Operapaedia: Voice Types in Opera
Beverly Sills Online: Biographies
The Metropolitan Opera: Stories of the Operas
Grove Music Online
Standard 1, Level III: Understands connections among the various art forms and other disciplines.
Standard 7, Level II: Understands the relationship between music and history and culture.
Standard 6, Level III: Understands the context in which theater, film, television, and electronic media are performed today as well as in the past.
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes.
Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts.
Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.
Listening and Speaking
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.
Working with Others
Standard 1, Level IV: Contributes to the overall effort of a group.
Standard 4, Level IV: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.
This lesson was prepared by Lisa Prososki, an independent educational consultant and instructional design specialist who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading, and technology courses for 12 years.