Giacomo Puccini is the Italian composer of some of the most popular and frequently performed operas. Many of his arias have introduced thousands to the joys of opera. An outstanding example of this is the 1990 Football World Cup' theme tune 'Nessun Dorma' from 'Turandot'.
Portrait by Paul Helm ©
Born: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini
December 22, 1858 - November 29, 1924, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
into a family dynasty with five generations of musical history.
Father: Michele Puccini, organist of Lucca cathedral, died when he was 5
Mother: Albina Magi
Uncle: Fortunato Magi, his first music teacher.
Siblings: 5 sisters and one brother Michele who died aged 27
Wife: Elvira (who already had a daughter)
Died: of throat cancer.29 Nov 1924, Brussels, Belgium
Buried: in the private chapel of his home at Torre del Lago, nr Viareggio, Italy.
- "Art is a kind of illness."
- "Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements."
- “Cold calculation, random spots of color, mathematically exact construction (clearly shown or concealed), drawing that is now silent and now strident . . . . Is this not form?”
Puccini in Art
A fascinating collection of images - art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps.
Early years: studied music with his uncle Fortunato Magi.
Age 14: appointed organist at San Martino and San Michele, Lucca.
Age 18: He attended a performance of Verdi's Aida in Pisa which strongly influenced him.
Age 22 - 25: Studied at the Milan Conservatory under Bazzini and Ponchielli. While there he wrote his first opera Le Villi for which the publisher Ricordi arranged its premié
re in Milan in 1884. It was the successful launch of his career in opera.
Age 28: He had a son by a local Lucca merchant's wife, Elvira Gemignani, with whom he was having an affair. He married her eight years later when her husband died.
Age 31: His next opera, Edgar, commissioned by Ricordi, was a flop.
Age 35: Manon Lescault was the next, premiéred in Turin, and was a great success.
Age 36 - 48: His next three operas: La Bohème 1896, Tosca 1900 and Madam Butterfly 1904 are his most successful works.
Age 45: Almost killed in a serious car accident - he loved driving fast cars.
Age 51: Major scandal following the suicide of a servant girl following his wife's false accusations that he had been having an affair with her.
Age 52: Premiére in New York of his La Fanciulla del West conducted by Toscanini and with Caruso in the male lead.
Age 55: Commissioned to write La Rondine which was premiered in Monte Carlo four years later in 1917. It received relatively poor reviews.
Age 60: premiére at the Met in New York of his trilogy of single act operas Il Trittico.
Age 65: Diagnosed with throat cancer (he had been a very heavy smoker). He was working on his last opera Turandot.
Age 66: Died of a heart attack in Brussels while undergoing treatment for his cancer.
Puccini on Amazon.com
Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme
Humming Chorus from Madam Butterfly
La Fanciulla del West (trailer)
TOSCA - E Lucevan Le Stelle - an animation
Manon Lescaut - Love Duet
Annual Puccini Festival - Torri del Lago
Google Books - Puccini by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz
Italian Composers - more profiles here at 52composers.com