Giacomo Puccini, classical music composer

Giacomo Puccini image

Giacomo Puccini


One of the leading figures of Italian opera, Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in Tuscany on December 22nd, 1858 into a family with a long history in music. After his father died when Giacomo was only five years of age, he was sent off to study with his uncle Fortunato Magi, an organist and choir master. During this time, he sang in the choir and eventually performed as a freelance organist in religious service. A clause in his uncle's contract stipulated that Giacomo was next in line to take over the position of organist and choir master in Lucca. However, he never took the position. A performance of Verdi's Aida, which Giacomo and his brother walked eighteen miles to see, had a lasting impact on Giacomo and set his resolve to become an opera composer.

In 1880, Puccini enrolled in the Milan Conservatory studying composition with Ronchetti-Monteviti, Ponchielli and Bazzini. During his first year there, he composed the Messa, usually known however as the Messa di Gloria. With a definite influence from Verdi, the Messa showed Puccini's inclination towards opera with powerful arias for tenor and bass soloists that attempted to break the solemn bounds of church music.

His first operatic attempt, Le Villi, came in 1882 and was set to a libretto by Ferdinando Fontana. He entered the opera in a competition and, though it did not win, a performance of the opera in 1884 nevertheless drew the attention of Giulio Ricordi, head of G. Ricordi & Co. music publishers. Ricordi commissioned a second opera, Edgar, from Puccini in 1889. This opera, however, was a complete failure. Fontana was once again enlisted as the librettists, though he story was thought poor and weak. In frustration over the opera's flop, Puccini determined to write his own libretto for his next opera, Manon Lescaut. Ricordi, nevertheless, managed to persuade Puccini to take on Leoncavallo as a librettist. This, however, did not work either. Puccini consistently changed his mind on the order and structure of the opera. Eventually, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, were assigned the task of completing the opera and did so. The premiere of Manon Lescaut established Puccini's reputation as a prominent opera composer and marked the beginning of his remarkable collaboration with Illica and Giacosa. Over the next decade, the trio produced Puccini's arguably three greatest opera: La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. Today, all three are among the most often performed operas in the repertoire.

Following, Madama Butterfly, Puccini's creative fervor waned. In small part, this diminished activity can be attributed to the death of Giacosa in 1906 and then Ricordi in 1912. Other operas, however, did follow. La fanciulla del West was completed in 1910 and La rondine in 1916. His last complete attempt was a trilogy of one-act operas titled Il trittico. Only the last of the three, a comedy, enjoyed any success.

In 1923, during the composition of Turandot, Puccini was diagnosed with throat cancer. His doctors recommended an experimental radiation treatment being offered in Brussels. During treatment, Puccini suffered a heart attack and died on November 29, 1924. The final two scenes of Turandot were completed by Franco Alfano based on sketches that Puccini had left. It was premiered two years later in 1926 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.

Composer Title Date Action
Giacomo Puccini Donna non vidi mai, from Manon Lescaut 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Ah, Manon, mi tradische, from Manon Lescaut 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Guardate, pazzo son guardate, from Manon Lescaut 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Crisantemi 04/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini E lucevan le stelle, from Tosca 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Turandot: In questa reggia 06/06/2012 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Nessun dorma, from Turandot 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Recondita armonia, from Tosca 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Selections from Turandot 04/07/2010 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini IEM PRESS Programma Apeiron (October 6 2012), Tosca con R. Kabaivanska, P. Domingo, S. Milnes 10/05/2012 Play
Giacomo Puccini The Best of Apeiron: Puccini's Tosca 10/19/2012 Play
Giacomo Puccini Crisantemi 04/17/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Romanza from "Il Trittico Fantasy" 06/12/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini O mio babbino caro 11/23/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Chi il bel sogno di Doretta 12/13/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giacomo Puccini Crisantemi 04/11/2014 Play Add to playlist