Biography of Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

Italian composer born in Lucca on December 22, 1858 and died in Brussels on November 29, 1924.


He began his musical training in his native Lucca with his uncle Fortunato Magi and Carlo Angeloni, director of the Istituto Musicale Pacini. At age 14 he/she began working as organist at the Church of San Martín and San Miguel and subsequently in other local churches. In 1880 he/she moved to Milan to study at the Conservatory with Ponchielliand Bazzini. In his first theatrical works he/she demonstrated his knowledge of the theatre of Wagner. His first dramatic work was Le Villi (1884), opera in one act with libretto by Ferdinando Fontana. The opera drew the attention of the Publisher Giulio Ricordi, who managed its premiere at the theater of seeing me in Milan and commissioned a second opera Puccini. Le Villi was also represented in the Scala Theatre and in Turin. This success was not repeated with Edgar, premiered at La Scala in 1889, but despite that, Ricordi not evicted trust and became the editor of all his operas.

Manon Lescaut was his next production, which premiered in Turin in 1893. The writers were Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, who would later write the texts of what is considered the masterpiece of Puccini, La Bohème, composed in 1896. This opera was met with reservations by critics, even though it got an extraordinary public triumph to present a modern action with characters of a modest means. After La Bohème Puccini, he/she made his first foray in the verismo to write the drama loving Tosca, premiered with great success at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome in 1900. That same year visited London and there had the opportunity to see the play Madame Butterfly by David Belasco, which led him to write his opera with the same title. For the writing of the texts he/she had Illica and Giacosa, with whom formed a task force that worked to perfection. Madame Butterfly represented for the first time at La Scala in February 1904 and received a hostile welcome, while Brescia was acclaimed by the public.

Puccini. Madame Butterfly, Act II.

At that then Puccini married Elvira Gemignani, with whom he/she had a son. In 1909 it emerged a scandal when one of the maids of marriage, that Elvira had accused of being the mistress of her husband, committed suicide. This affected the composer so that he/she spent several years without writing any work until he/she created La Fanciulla del West. The opera, based on another work of Belasco, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in December 1910 and is characterized by its orchestration akin to Richard Strauss. In 1917 he/she composed La rondine, an operetta that was not nothing satisfied, premiered at Monte Carlo and published by Sonzogno, rival of the Ricordi editors; The rondine is the least represented of all pucciniana production. That same year began projecting the three operas in an act that make up its famous trittico: Il Tabarro, Sister Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. The three were represented in New York City in 1918, and until 1948 it failed to see in the theater of the Liceo de Barcelona.

When it had already completed sixty years he/she began to write Turandot, an opera by environment feérico based on a text by Carlo Gozzi. Due to his premature death in 1924, he/she left the unfinished work and was the composer Franco Alfano , who was in charge of completing it. Turandot was staged for the first time at La Scala on April 25, 1926, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini and with the interpretation of the Aragonese tenor Miguel Fleta in the role of Calaf. In Spain it opened two years later in Barcelona's Teatro del Liceo.


Puccini's many virtues include his harmonic sensibility and his great melodic skill, which has much in common with the French composer Jules Massenet. Through his music, Puccini showed quite rightly passion, sensuality and tenderness of his operatic characters. In La Bohème it reflects master everyday life in a realistic way combining different techniques such as melodic lyricism and colourful orchestration. The first two scenes have a dynamic and lively character while the following are more nostalgic in nature.

Puccini. La Boheme, Act I.

As for Il trittico, it is necessary to highlight its unity and cohesion, since in the set of three operas Puccini got together three different genres (dramatic, sentimental and "bufo") with a coherent result. In Il tabarro, the first of the three, the atmosphere recreates with precision of the Parisian slums; Sister Angelica stands out its structure, which simulates a via crucis of seven stations, and Gianni Schicchi his sense of humor, by means of which Puccini relive the tradition of opera buffa.

The last five years of his life he/she dedicated them to the creation of Turandot, which was unable to write the last part of the third act. Already in the aesthetics of the postverismo, inscribed in it Puccini recreates the world of the imperial China-based melodies of Eastern dyes - which he/she himself said it obtained mainly from a music-box, and makes use of some ornate melodies (spianato singing). Remarkable is the character of Liu, a character clearly pucciniana finally just starving for love.

The figure of Puccini is essential to the history of Italian opera. His contribution to operatic art was crucial at a time when this genre came into crisis mainly caused by the emergence of other types of entertainment which monopolized the public's interest.


-La Bohème. Performers: Daniela Dessì, Adelina Scarabelli, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Paolo Gavanelli, Alfonso Antoniozzi, Carlo Colombara, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Director: Gianluigi Gemetti. 7541242 EMI. -La Bohème. Performers: Katia Ricciarelli, Francisco Araiza, Paata Burchuladze, Orchestra of the Arena of Verona. Director: Anton Guadagno. KOCH 315922. -La Bohème. Performers: Kiri Te Kanawa, Nancy Gustafson, Richard Leech, Gino Quilico, Alan Titus, Roberto Scandiuzzi. London Symphony Orchestra. Director: Kent Nagano. ERATO 0630 10699-2. -La Bohème. Performers: Moffo, Tucker, Costa, Merrill, Opera of Rome. Director: Leinsdorf. BMG/RCA 09026631792 (2 CDs) - La fanciulla del West. Performers: Renata Tebaldi, Cornell McNeril, Mario de el Monaco, Orchestra and choir of the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome. Director: Franco Capuana. DECCA 421 595-2. -Gianni Schicchi. Cast: Leo Nucci, Mirella Frani, Roberto Alagna, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Director: Bruno Bartoletti. DECCA 444 395-2. -Madame Butterfly. Performers: Freni, Pavarotti, Ludwig, Kerns, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Director: Herbert von Karajan. DECCA 417 577-2. -Manon Lescaut. Performers: Kiri Te Kanawa, José Carreras, Paolo Coni, Orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna. Director: Riccardo Chailly. DECCA 421 426-2. -Il Trittico. Performers: Mirella Freni, Leo Nucci, Juan Pons, Orchestra and chorus of the Maggio Musicale in Florence. Director: Bruno Bartoletti. DECCA 436 261-2. -Tosca; performers: Price, Di Stefano, Taddei, Corena, choir of the Vienna State Opera, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Director: Herbert von Karajan. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DG 466 387-2. -Turandot. Performers: Casolla; Larin; Frittoli; Florence May. Director: Zubin Mehta. BMG/RCA 74321609172 (DVD) - Turandot (selection). Performers: Casolla; Larin; Frittoli; Florence May, Director: Zubin Mehta. BMG/RCA 74321619172. -Turandot (selection); performers: Barbara Hendricks (soprano) Katia Ricciarelli (soprano), Francisco Araiza (tenor), Plácido Domingo (tenor), Piero di Palma (tenor), Hans Zednick (tenor), Gottfried Hornik (baritone), Siegmund Nimsgern (bass), Ruggero Raimondi (bass), Niños cantores choir of the Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Director: Herbert von Karajan. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DG 410 645-2.

Links on the Internet; a page that contains detailed information about the operas of Puccini. In English.; page from the Center for Puccini studies of Lucca (Italy). In English and Italian.


ASHBROOK, William. The Operas of Puccini. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

BIAGI RAVENNI, Gabriella and PUCCINI, Simoneta. The famiglia Puccini: a tradizione, Lucca, music. Milan: Museo teatrale alla Scala, 1993.

GIRARDI, Michele. Puccini: his international art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

HUGHES, Spike. Famous Puccini operas: an analytical guide for the opera-goer and armchair listener. New York: Dover Publications, 1972.

SOUTHWELL-SANDER, Peter. Puccini. Barcelona: Ma non troppo, 2002.