Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (
December 22, 1858– November 29, 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including " La Bohème", " Tosca", and " Madama Butterfly", are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. [cite web | url=http://www.operaamerica.org/pressroom/quickfacts2006.html | title=Quick Opera Facts 2007 | publisher=OPERA America | date=2007 | accessdate=2007-04-23] [cite web | url=http://opera.stanford.edu/misc/Dornic_survey.html | title=An Operatic Survey | publisher=Opera Glass | author=Alain P. Dornic | date=1995 | accessdate=2007-04-23] Some of his arias, such as " O Mio Babbino Caro" from " Gianni Schicchi", " Che gelida manina" from " La Bohème", and " Nessun Dorma" from " Turandot", have become part of popular culture.
Puccini was born in
Luccain Tuscany, Italyinto a family with five generations of musical history behind them. His father died when Giacomo was five years old, and he was sent to study with his uncle Fortunato Magi, who considered him to be a poor and undisciplined student. But later, Puccini took the position of church organistand choir master in Lucca, but it was not until he saw a performance of Verdi's " Aida" that he became inspired to be an opera composer. He and his brother, Michele, walked 18.5 mi (30 km) to see the performance in Pisa.
In 1880, with the help of a relative and a grant, Puccini enrolled in the
Milan Conservatoryto study composition with Amilcare Ponchielliand Antonio Bazzini. In the same year, at the age of 21, he composed the "Messa", which marks the culmination of his family's long association with church music in his native Lucca. Although Puccini himself correctly titled the work a "Messa", referring to a setting of the full Catholic Mass, today the work is popularly known as his "Messa di Gloria", a name that technically refers to a setting of only the first two prayers of the Mass, the Kyrieand the Gloria, while omitting the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.
The work anticipates Puccini's career as an operatic composer by offering glimpses of the dramatic power that he would soon unleash on the stage; the powerful “arias” for tenor and bass soloists are certainly more operatic than is usual in church music and, in its orchestration and dramatic power, the "Messa" compares interestingly with Verdi's "Requiem".
While studying at the Conservatory, Puccini obtained a
librettofrom Ferdinando Fontanaand entered a competition for a one-act opera in 1882. Although he did not win, " Le Villi" was later staged in 1884 at the Teatro Dal Vermeand it caught the attention of Giulio Ricordi, head of G. Ricordi & Co.music publishers, who commissioned a second opera, "Edgar", in 1889.
Puccini at Torre del Lago
From 1891 onwards, Puccini spent most of his time at
Torre del Lago, a small community about fifteen miles from Lucca situated between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Lake Massaciuccoli, just south of Viareggio. While renting a house there, he spent time hunting but regularly visited Lucca. By 1900 he had acquired land and built a villa on the lake, now known as the "Villa Museo Puccini". He lived there until 1921 when pollution produced by peat works on the lake forced him to move to Viareggio, a few kilometres north. After his death, a mausoleumwas created in the Villa Puccini and the composer is buried there in the chapel, along with his wife and son who died later.
The "Villa Museo Puccini" is presently owned by his granddaughter, Simonetta Puccini, and is open to the public.
Operas written at Torre del Lago
"Manon Lescaut" (1893), his third opera, was his first great success. It launched his remarkable relationship with the librettists
Luigi Illicaand Giuseppe Giacosa, who collaborated with him on his next three operas, which became his three most famous and most performed operas. These were:
La Bohème" (1896) is considered one of his best works as well as one of the most romantic operas ever composed. It is arguably today's most popular opera.
Tosca" (1900) was arguably Puccini's first foray into " verismo", the realistic depiction of many facets of real life including violence. The opera is generally considered of major importance in the history of opera because of its many significant features.
Madama Butterfly" (1904) was initially greeted with great hostility (mostly organised by his rivals) but, after some reworking, became another of his most successful operas.
After 1904, compositions were less frequent. Following his passion for driving fast cars, Puccini was nearly killed in a major accident in 1903. In 1906 Giacosa died and, in 1909, there was scandal after Puccini's wife, Elvira, falsely accused their maid Doria Manfredi of having an affair with Puccini. The maid then committed
suicide. Elvira was successfully sued by the Manfredis, and Giacomo had to pay damages. Finally, in 1912, the death of Giulio Ricordi, Puccini’s editor and publisher, ended a productive period of his career.
However, Puccini completed "
La Fanciulla del West" in 1910 and finished the score of " La Rondine" in 1917.
In 1918, "
Il Trittico" premiered in New York. This work is composed of three one-act operas: a horrific episode (" Il Tabarro"), in the style of the Parisian Grand Guignol, a sentimental tragedy(" Suor Angelica"), and a comedy(" Gianni Schicchi"). Of the three, "Gianni Schicchi" has remained the most popular, containing the popular " O Mio Babbino Caro".
The final years
A habitual Toscano cigar chain smoker, Puccini began to complain of chronic sore throats towards the end of 1923. A diagnosis of
throat cancerled his doctors to recommend a new and experimental radiation therapytreatment, which was being offered in Brussels. Puccini and his wife never knew how serious the cancer was, as the news was only revealed to his son.
Puccini died there on
November 29, 1924, from complications from the treatment; uncontrolled bleeding led to a heart attack the day after surgery. News of his death reached Romeduring a performance of "La bohème". The opera was immediately stopped, and the orchestra played Chopin's "Funeral March" for the stunned audience. He was buried in Milan, but in 1926 his son arranged for the transfer of his father's remains to a specially-created chapel inside the Puccini villa at Torre del Lago.
Turandot", his final opera, was left unfinished; and the last two scenes were completed by Franco Alfanobased on the composer's sketches. Some dispute whether Alfano followed the sketches or not, since the sketches were said to be indecipherable, but he is believed to have done so, since, together with the autographs, he was given (still existing) transcriptions from Guido Zuccoli who was accustomed to interpreting Puccini's handiwork.
Arturo Toscaniniconducted the premiere performance in April 1926, (in front of a sold-out crowd, with every prominent Italian except for Benito Mussoliniin attendance), he chose not to perform Alfano's portion of the score. The performance reached the point where Puccini had completed the score, at which time Toscanini stopped the orchestra. The conductor turned to the audience and said: "Here the opera finishes, because at this point the Maestro died". (Some record that he said, more poetically, “Here the Maestro laid down his pen.”).
Toscanini edited Alfano's suggested completion ('Alfano I'), to produce a version now known as 'Alfano II', and this is the version usually used in performance. However, some musicians (eg Ashbrook & Powers, 1991) consider Alfano I to be a more dramatically complete version. In 2002, an official new ending was composed by
Luciano Beriofrom original sketches, but this finale has to date been performed only infrequently.
Wagnerand Verdi, Puccini did not appear to be active in the politics of his day. However, Mussolini, Fascistdictator of Italy at the time, claimed that Puccini applied for admission to the National Fascist Party. While it has been proven that Puccini was indeed among the early supporters of the Fascist party at the time of the elections' campaign of 1919 (in which the Fascist candidates were utterly defeated, earning a meagre 4,000 votes), there appears to be no records or proof of any application given to the party by Puccini. In addition, it can be noted that had Puccini done so, his close friend Toscanini (an extreme anti-fascist) would probably have severed all friendly connection with him and ceased conducting his operas.
This notwithstanding, Fascist propaganda appropriated Puccini's figure, and one of the most widely played marches during Fascist street parades and public ceremonies was the "Inno a Roma" (Hymn to Rome), composed in 1919 by Puccini over lyrics written by Fausto Salvatori, based on these verses from
Horace's " Carmen saeculare":
"Alme Sol, curru nitido diem qui / Promis et celas alius que et idem / Nasceris, possis nihil urbe Roma / Visere maius."(O Sun, that unchanged, yet ever new, / Lead'st out the day and bring'st it home, / May nothing be present to thy view / Greater than Rome!)
The subject of Puccini's style is one that has been long avoided by musicologists; this avoidance can perhaps be attributed to the perception that his work, with its emphasis on melody and evident popular appeal, lacked "seriousness" (a similar prejudice beset Rachmaninoff during his lifetime). Despite the place Puccini clearly occupies in the popular tradition of Verdi, his style of orchestration also shows the strong influence of Wagner, matching specific orchestral configurations and timbres to different dramatic moments. His operas contain an unparalleled manipulation of orchestral colors, with the orchestra often creating the scene’s atmosphere.
The structures of Puccini's works are also noteworthy. While it is to an extent possible to divide his operas into arias or numbers (like Verdi's), his scores generally present a very strong sense of continuous flow and connectivity, perhaps another sign of Wagner’s influence. Like Wagner, Puccini used
leitmotifs to connote characters (or combinations of characters). This is apparent in "Tosca", where the three chords which signal the beginning of the opera are used throughout to announce Scarpia. Several motifs are also linked to Mimi and the Bohemians in "La Bohème" and to Cio-Cio-San's eventual suicide in "Butterfly". Unlike Wagner, though, Puccini's motifs are static: where Wagner's motifs develop into more complicated figures as the characters develop, Puccini's remain more or less identical throughout the opera (in this respect anticipating the themes of modern musical theatre).
Another distinctive quality in Puccini's works is the use of the voice in the style of speech: characters sing short phrases one after another as if they were talking to each other. Puccini is celebrated, on the other hand, for his melodic gift, and many of his melodies are both memorable and enduringly popular. These melodies are often made of sequences from the scale, a very distinctive example being "Quando me'n vo"' (Musetta's Waltz) from "La Bohème" and "E Lucevan le Stelle" from Act III of "Tosca". Today, it is rare not to find at least one Puccini aria included in an operatic singer's CD album or recital.
Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Lloyd Schwartzsummarized Puccini thus: "Is it possible for a work of art to seem both completely sincere in its intentions and at the same time counterfeit and manipulative? Puccini built a major career on these contradictions. But people care about him, even admire him, because he did it both so shamelessly and so skillfully. How can you complain about a composer whose music is so relentlessly memorable, even — maybe especially — at its most saccharine?" [cite web | url=http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid50274.aspx | title=Lorca without Lorca | publisher=The Phoenix | date= October 30, 2007| accessdate=2007-11-18]
Although Puccini is mainly known for his operas, he also wrote some orchestral pieces, sacred music, chamber music and songs for voice and piano.
Le Villi", libretto by Ferdinando Fontana (in one act – premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme, 31 May 1884)
** second version (in two acts – premiered at the Teatro Regio, 26 December 1884)
** third version (in two acts – premiered at the
Teatro alla Scala, 24 January 1885)
** fourth version (in two acts – premiered at the Teatro dal Verme, 7 November 1889)
* "Edgar", libretto by Ferdinando Fontana (in four acts – premiered at the Teatro alla Scala, 21 April 1889)
** second version (in four acts – premiered at the Teatro del Giglio, 5 September 1891)
** third version (in three acts – premiered at the Teatro Comunale, 28 January 1892)
** fourth version (in three acts – premiered at the
Teatro Colóndi Buenos Aires, 8 July 1905)
* "Manon Lescaut", libretto by
Luigi Illica, Marco Praga and Domenico Oliva (premiered at the Teatro Regio, 1 February 1893)
** second version (premiered at the Teatro Coccia, 21 December 1893)
La bohème", libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa(premiered at the Teatro Regio, 1 February 1896)
Tosca", libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (premiered at the Teatro Costanzi, 14 January 1900)
Madama Butterfly", libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (in two acts – premiered at the Teatro alla Scala, 17 February 1904)
** second version (in two acts – premiered at the Teatro Grande di Brescia, 28 May 1904)
** third version (premiered at
Covent Garden, London 10 July 1905)
** fourth version (premiered at the
Opéra Comiquein Paris, 28 December 1906)
** fifth version (premiered at the Teatro Carcano, 9 December 1920)
La fanciulla del West", libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini (premiered at the Metropolitan, 10 December 1910)
** second version (premiered at the Teatro alla Scala, 29 Decembre 1912)
La rondine", libretto by Giuseppe Adami(premiered at the Opéra of Monte Carlo, 27 March 1917)
** second version (premiered at the Opéra of Monte Carlo, 10 April 1920)
** third version (possible premier at the Teatro Verdi, 11 April 1924); orchestration of the third act completed in 1994 by
Lorenzo Ferrero(premièred at Teatro Regio, 22 March 1994)
Il trittico" (premiered at the Metropolitan, 14 December 1918):" Il tabarro", libretto by Giuseppe Adami :" Suor Angelica", libretto by Giovacchino Forzano:" Gianni Schicchi", libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
Turandot", libretto by Renato Simoniand Giuseppe Adami(incomplete at the time of Puccini's death, completed by Franco Alfano: premiered at the Teatro alla Scala, 25 April 1926; an alternative completion was commissioned from Luciano Berioin 2002)
Puccini's other works and versions
(with dates of premieres and locations)
*"A te" (c.1875)
*"Preludio a orchestra" (1876)
*"Plaudite populi" (Lucca, 1877)
*"Credo" (Lucca, 1878)
*"Vexilla Regis" (1878)
*"Messa a 4 voci con orchestra" (Lucca, 1880) Published in 1951 as "Messa di Gloria"
*"Adagio in A major" (1881)
*"Largo Adagetto in F major " (c.1881-83)
*"Salve del ciel Regina" (c.1882)
*"Mentìa l’avviso" (c.1882)
*"Preludio Sinfonico in A major" (Milan, 1882)
*"Scherzo in D" (1883)
*"Storiella d’amore" (1883)
*"Capriccio Sinfonico" (Milan, 1883)
*"Sole ed amore" (1888)
*"Crisantemi" (String Quartet, 1890, "Alla memoria di Amadeo di Savoia Duca d'Aosta")
*"Minuetto n.1" (String Quartet, published about 1892, "A.S.A.R. Vittoria Augusta di Borbone, Principessa di Capua")
*"Minuetto n.2" (String Quartet, published about 1892, "All'esimio violinista prof. Augusto Michelangeli")
*"Minuetto n.3" (String Quartet, published about 1892, "All'amico maestro Carlo Carignani")
*"Piccolo valzer" (1894)
*"Avanti Urania!" (1896)
*"Scossa elettrica" (1896)
*"Inno a Diana" (1897)
*"E l'uccellino" (1899)
*"Terra e mare" (1902)
*"Canto d’anime" (1904)
*"Requiem" (27-Jan-1905, Milan)
*"Casa mia, casa mia" (1908)
*"Sogno d'or" (1913)
*"Pezzo per pianoforte" (1916)
*"Morire?" (c.1917) - sometimes used in an alternate ending to "
*"Inno a Roma" (1-Jun-1919, Rome)
Centres for Puccini Studies
Founded in 1996 in Lucca, the Centro studi Giacomo Puccini embraces a wide range of approaches to the study of Puccini's work.
In the USA, the American Center for Puccini Studies specializes in the presentation of unusual performing editions of composer's works and introduces many neglected or unknown Puccini pieces to the music loving public. It was founded in 2004 by a leading Puccini artist and scholar, Dr. Harry Dunstan.
Detailed information about both organizations exists on their websites.
* [http://www.magazzini-sonori.it/esplora_contenuti/autori_esecutori/puccini_giacomo.aspx Puccini: listen to Puccini's music (airs from the operas, and other works)] on [http://www.magazzini-sonori.it/ Magazzini-Sonori] .
Festival Puccini; the annual Festival of Puccini's operas in Torre del Lago.
Julian Buddenauthor on Puccini, and sometime President of Centro Studi di Giacomo Puccini
*; librettist for Puccini's first two operas
*cite book | last=Lynn | first=Karyl Charna | coauthors= | title=Italian Opera Houses and Festivals | location=Lanham, MD | publisher=The Scarecrow Press | year=2005 | isbn=0810853590
*cite book | last=Puccini | first=Simonetta (ed.) | title=Giacomo Puccini in Torre del Lago | location=Viareggio, Tuscany | publisher=Friends of Giacomo Puccini's Houses Association | year=2006 | isbn=
*cite book | last=Phillips-Matz| first=Mary Jane | title=Puccini: a biography | location=Boston | publisher=Northeastern University Press | year=2002 | isbn=1555535305
Jim Svejda. "The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire" (1990) ISBN 1559580518
*cite web | first = | title = Puccini Vocal and Instrumental Music|publisher=Centro Studi di Giacomo Puccini|url=http://www.puccini.it/scientifica/catmusic.htm| accessdate = 2008-02-06
*cite web | first = | title = Puccini Operas|publisher=Centro Studi di Giacomo Puccini|url=http://www.puccini.it/scientifica/catalogo%20opere.htm| accessdate = 2008-02-06
*Ashbrook W & Powers H (1991) "Puccini's Turandot:The End of the Great Tradition", Princeton Univ. Press
*Carner, Mosco (1959) "Puccini:A Critical Biography", Alfred Knopf
* [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/puccini.html Giacomo Puccini ] at w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de
* [http://www.operapaedia.org/Home.aspx San Diego Opera's Operapaedia ] at www.operapaedia.org
* [http://www.puccini.it/ Centro Studi di Giacomo Puccini]
* [http://pucciniamerica.org. American Center for Puccini Studies]
* [http://www.puccinielasualucca.it/ Festival Puccini e la sua Lucca]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9061806/Giacomo-Puccini Encyclopaedia Britannica, Giacomo Puccini]
* [http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/search.php?query=puccini&queryType=%40attr+1%3D1016 Puccini cylinder recordings] , from the
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Projectat the University of California, Santa BarbaraLibrary.
* [http://www.classicistranieri.com/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=6121 Manon Lescaut] MP3 Creative Commons Recording
* [http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800301692/filmography Puccini's music in movies]
* [http://www.liberliber.it/audioteca/p/puccini/index.htm Free MP3 Puccini's operas]
NAME= Puccini, Giacomo
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Puccini, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Italian composer
DATE OF BIRTH=
December 22, 1858
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Luccain Tuscany, Italy
DATE OF DEATH=
November 29, 1924
PLACE OF DEATH=
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