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Tosca is an opera that was played in front of the Rome audience in the year 1900. The play was written by Giacomo Puccini in Italian language based on a French drama play which was known as La Tosca. The storyline revolves around a jealous woman called Tosca who commits murder and even kills herself because of love. Like many other operas, Tosca was dramatically performed with the artists combining acting, scenery, costume, dance and music in its performance. The following is an examination of these elements as represented in Tosca.
Puccini has used music in Tosca severally to depict a scene, and emotional state or even a dramatic action. One example is found at the beginning of act three where the music is peaceful and gentle. A shepherd boy is heard singing a song in his native language as he drives the animals. The clanking of an animal bell and a gait are also heard. As the sun rises, the tone dramatically changes as church bells start ringing as if they are outdoing each other to call the faithful to Morning Prayers. A picture of tonal color from the different bells and sounds is used in this scene to show transition. Suddenly, the tonal texture of the music rises and then thickens as the audience is taken to a quick view over the city and then into a dark corner in St. Peters churc. The music rises to show as it depicts the morning activities in the city and then thickens when the scene moves into the room where Cavaraossi is hiding, with little hope and depression. Other moments of tonal painting include the chilling string sounds that help the audience to understand Tosca’s character and state as she enters the stage.
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Melody has also been used dramatically to accomplish different purposes. First, the songs in this opera are created in a short and repetitive manner, so that they can be remembered by the audience. For example, the song The stars are shinning, the melodiously sung at the beginning of act 3, is made of small repetitions of three and four steps. This makes it rememberable and also emphasizes the smooth transition from the shepherd’s scene to the church scene. During the last scene, a spiral melody is heard when Tosca jumps into her death to signify the transition from human into the spirit world where she hopes to reunite with her lover. There is also the sharp melody when she kills Scarpia. This sharp shriek also tells the audience that Scarpia, though dead, will continue to have his evil influence over the people.
Color, texture, shape, technique and color value used to create the costumes also plays a dramatic contribution to the opera. For example, Tosca, the contrast between sunlight and darkness, is used to show the mood of different scenes. The bright sunrise in act three suddenly changes into darkness when the scene moves into a dark room where Cavaraossi is hiding. The use of lighting here helps to show the contrast between life outside and the gloominess and depression in the dark room. Harmony has been used to create scenes with different moods. As the curtains rise, three invasive chords signify the arrival of the evil Scarpia who tries to seduce the lead star Tosca. Cavaraossi, who is the true love of Tosca, sings about his love for her in a romantic melody Oh hidden harmony. He describes Tosca as the wonderful harmony that brings peace to his life. Tosca also sings out I have lived for art as she gives decides to give up her life for her lover. These two songs captivate the audience into the romantic, but sad emotions of the two scenes.
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Puccini has used different elements to such as tonal color, melody, harmony and costumes to bring dramatic twists to his opera Tosca. These elements have allowed him do not use words to explain his scenes. The audience is able to pick the mood and emotions in the scenes before they even hear the words and, therefore, gaining more understanding and enjoyment to the opera.
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