The activities in this guide address several aspects of Tosca:
Characteristics of the opera’s music and construction
The European history at the center of Tosca’s setting and plot
Compositional techniques used by Puccini
The production as a unified work of art, involving creative decisions by the artists of the Metropolitan Opera
The guide is intended to spark students’ interest in Tosca, whether or not they have any prior acquaintance with opera. It seeks to encourage them to think about opera—and the performing arts in general—as a medium of entertainment and of creative expression.
What Makes Thrillers Thrilling?
A Close Look at a Dramatic Genre and Its Conventions
Tosca has been called an operatic thriller—but what does that mean? How does a work of art deliver such an effect? What do writers and composers do to keep audiences on the edge of their seats—even when they are well acquainted with the plot? In this activity, students will develop their own criteria for a thriller, evaluate Tosca against these criteria, then decide whether Puccini’s opera passes the test. They will:
Reflect on their experience with the genre in movies, books, and TV shows
Name aspects of plot, dialogue, character, action, and sound that contribute to spine-chilling experiences
Analyze the first two acts of Tosca using the criteria they develop
Predict the opera’s conclusion, based on their understanding of thrillers and their conventions