Sweeney Todd

Millie Taylor

in The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies

Published in print June 2014 | ISBN: 9780195391374
Published online June 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Sweeney Todd

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In act 1 of Sondheim and Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd, Todd has a motivation for his actions, and his beautiful music gives audiences the opportunity to connect with his voice and his righteous indignation. The song “Epiphany” marks the moment of his transformation from melodramatic villain to tragic victim. It disrupts linear narrative through direct address, it disrupts melodic line by rapid juxtaposition, and it is accompanied by raucous and dissonant harmonies. The binary structure of the whole work hinges around this moment so that ultimately Todd appears as a tragic antihero, out of step with his world. His empathetic music renders him an everyman, the dominant consciousness, who allows audiences to perceive the world in a new and tragic light.

Keywords: Sweeney Todd; Stephen Sondheim; melodrama; tragedy; film noir; tragic victim; melodramatic villain; Epiphany

Article.  7360 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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