Great Divide By Ashley Kimball, SSU Theatre Arts Major; The Deserted Island Dramaturg
Sonoma State University, Spring 2013

Program Notes and Study Guide

  1. Synopsis (link)
    Enjoy the synopsis of L’isola Disabitata.
  2. Castaway Interview with Tom Hanks (link to youtube)
    The relevant clip in this interview begins at the 12:00 minutes, and continues until 17:00 minutes. The actor Tom Hanks played a fictional FedEx man, named Chuck Noland in the movie Castaway. The character ends up stranded on an island after a small plane accident while overseas. With no human beings or shelter to speak of, he has to learn to survive. Watch Tom Hanks discuss how he was able to get into the mindset of an isolated man in this interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio.
  3. Biography of the Composer, Joseph Haydn (PDF) Part One, Part two
    This short, sweet, to the point biography on Joseph Haydn will enlighten you about his mischievous side and let you in on a few little known facts. Learn about his days in school and how his brother was almost more famous than he was.
  4. Island Resources (link to blog)
    We have all had to answer the question, “If you were stuck on an island and could bring only one thing, what would it be?” While it is fun to imagine these situations, your favorite sandwich is going to do very little for you. Read about the three things you must have if you are spending awhile on a deserted island.
  5. The Real Castaways: True Stories Of Being Stranded On A Deserted Island (PDF)
    Read stories of real life people starting from past to present who really have been deserted on an island. Find out how they survived and the crazy lengths they went through to see civilization once more in their lifetimes. From
  6. Discussion Questions
    Want some food for thought after you see the opera? Utilize these questions to help focus your experience and prompt new perspective about what you saw.

    1. Which character’s personality do you relate to the most? How does their personality play a role in the plot of the story?

    2. This opera was written 200 years ago. How relatable is the plot to today’s modern audiences?

    3. The plot does not explain why Gernando, Costanza, and Sylvia were traveling in the first place on the fateful trip that would later separate them. Why would such a young couple decide to take the baby sister with them? If you had to write the prologue to this show, what would it be?

    4. Sylvia had never in her memory seen a man until she met Enrico. Sylvia had been told nearly her whole life that men were wicked and evil by her sister. Was she too quick to trust Enrico? Why or why not?

    5. Unlike Riders to the Sea, L’isola Disabitata does not have a chorus of singers, it is just the four characters that carry the whole opera. How did it feel having just four singers, instead of a stage filled with the chorus?