Giacomo Puccini


He was born in Lucca on 22nd December 1858, the fifth of nine children and the last descendant of a family of musicians. After his father death (1864) he spent his youth between his family house in Lucca and their summer house in Celle. At the age of nine, he entered the seminary and later became a choirboy and organ player in the Cathedral of Lucca. But young Puccini preferred opera to church services. At the end of 1880, after obtaining his diploma from the Pacini School of Music in Lucca, he went to study at the Conservatory in Milan.

His stay in Milan was very important for him, who came into contact with the musical world and the Scapigliatura movement. In this period he met Pietro Mascagni and they shared a room for a few months. In 1883, he finished his studies, acquiring his diploma with the composition Capriccio Sinfonico , which immediately revealed the greatness of the young maestro. On April 1st of the same year, the magazine Il Teatro illustrato published by Edoardo Sonzogno announced a competition to find the best new opera in one act by a young Italian composer.


Puccini composed Le Villi , but his opera did not win and it wasn’t even mentioned as worth of noticing. However, the opera was staged on May 31st ,1884, at Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, thanks to a group of friends and influential investors. The success was immediate achieving great acclaim from the public and the critics. “The composer that Italy has been waiting for for a long time…”wrote Corriere della Sera, and Marco Sala, wealthy patron of the arts, said” Puccini’s opera is a small precious masterpiece from beginning to the end”.

This triumph enabled Puccini to sign his first contract with the great publishing house of Ricordi. His second opera, Edgar (La Scala, Milan, April 1889) did not achieve the level of success he was hoping. However, Ricordi continued to have faith in Puccini, and supported him financially for several years. With his third opera, Manon Lescaut (Teatro Regio, Turin, February 1893), success and fame finally arrived. Puccini was 35. He settled in Torre del Lago with his wife Elvira and his son Antonio. Here on the banks of Lake Massaciuccoli, he wrote most of his operas: La Bohéme (Teatro Regio, Turin, February 1896), Tosca (Teatro Costanzi, Rome, January 1900), Madama Butterfly (Teatro Grande, Brescia, May 1904).

By this time, Giacomo Puccini was famous all over the world and made many trips to assist the performances of his operas in Europe and in America: La Fanciulla del West (Metropolitan Opera, New York, December 1910), La Rondine (Montecarlo, March 1917), Il Trittico (Metropolitan Opera, New York, December 1918), until the last great opera Turandot by the Venetian playwright Carlo Gozzi. Altough he was seriously ill, Puccini worked hard on his Turandot which unfortunately, he could not complete. He underwent surgery for throat cancer in Brussels on November 24th , and died several days later on November 29th , 1924.


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