Martina Turconi (University of Padua)


Interested in the interaction between music and language, Martina Turconi currently works as a Post-doc researcher at the University of Padua (Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione). In 2022, she discussed her PhD thesis “Language and rhythm in the choruses of Italian opera”, obtaining the Ph.D. in Discipline Linguistiche e Letterature Straniere at the University of Pisa. In 2019 she took part in the organization of the International Graduate Conference “Interruzioni e cesure”, in which she chaired the panel “Cesura e forma”. On the same subject, in 2021, she published the paper “Il ruolo della pausa nelle figurazioni ritmiche” in the co-edited volume “Interruzioni e cesure. Fenomeni e pratiche della discontinuità in linguistica, letteratura e arti performative”.

 “The manifestation of Silence in Puccini’s Tosca and Turandot”

Puccini was more than once included among the Modernist representatives, indeed, his compositional style and the musical mechanism of his works look to the future of the dramaturgical panorama without losing the connection with his predecessors and the Italian operatic tradition (Budden 2005, Bollino 2008, Schwartz 2016). Starting his career at the end of the Nineteenth century, Puccini was a very original composer, who assimilated the techniques and the innovations of his peers making them his own. Among the originalities, the revision of the traditional setting of the orchestra palette and the setting on stage of a language whose aim was to be close as much as possible to everyday speech are worth mentioning.
Even though some musicologists believe that the Tuscan composer spurned the sense of ineffability and silence because of its inconsistency (Cresti 2007), the analysis of some of the passages of his operas and librettos can reveal a pondered mis-en-scene of these concepts. The second Act of Tosca and the third Act of Turandot stage two emblematic ways to represent silence and resistance: the struggle felt by Tosca and Liù in the attempt to not disclose essential information for the plot evolution. Profitably working along with his librettists, Puccini represents the verbal silence of the two heroines through the musical sounds, which are the only means that are able to really grasp and amplify the emotions that words cannot disclose. In fact, in those cases in which the spectators expect a pause, an abrupt interruption of the melodic and harmonic lines, Puccini was able to reveal the feelings of the characters on stage thanks to the usage of peculiar musical means sometimes extraneous to the opera staging.