Puccini, Giacomo (1858-1924), Italian composer, whose operas blend intense emotion and theatricality with tender lyricism, colourful orchestration, and a rich vocal line.
Puccini was born December 22, 1858, in Lucca, the descendant of a long line of local church musicians. In 1880 he wrote a mass, Messa di Gloria that encouraged his great-uncle to help underwrite his musical education. After studying (1880-83) music at the Milan Conservatory, Puccini wrote his first opera, Le Villi (1884); this brought him a commission to write a second, Edgar (1889), and a lifelong connection with Ricordi, a major music publisher. His third opera, Manon Lescaut (1893), was hailed as the work of a genius. La Boheme (1896), although containing some of the most popular arias in the repertoire today, displeased the audience at its Turin premiere, even with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Subsequent productions, however, won the composer worldwide acclaim.
Puccini's other operas include Tosca (1900), a standard repertory piece; Madame Butterfly (1904), which drew hisses at La Scala in Milan on opening night but scored a success after Puccini revised it; The Girl of the Golden West (1910), an opera on an American theme; the high-spirited La Rondine (1917); and Il Trittico, a trilogy of one-act operas comprising Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi (1918). Puccini was working on Turandot when he died, November 29, 1924, in Brussels. The opera, his most exotic, was completed by Franco Alfano and had its premiere in 1926.
Although his work lacks the grandeur of Giuseppe Verdi's (“The only music I can compose is that of little things,” Puccini once said), many consider him second only to Verdi among Italian composers who lived after Gioacchino Rossini.
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Giacomo Puccini biography
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