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Giacomo Puccini - View Sheet Music for this Artist
  • Nationality: Italian
  • 1858 - 1924
  • You might know him for: the operas La Bohème, Tosca, Madame Butterfly and Turandot which features the now world-famous Nessun Dorma

Giacomo Puccini represents the fifth generation of a music family, dating back to 1712. Like his father he was supposed to study church music and become an organist, but a performance of “Aida” he saw in Pisa in 1876 led to his enthusiasm for the opera. With his uncle`s support, his father had already died, and with a stipend he attended the conservatory in Milan for three years and studied with Amilcare Ponchielli. He graduated with a dissertation about “Capriccio Sinfonico” for orchestra, a topic he used later for his famous opera “La Boheme”.

With Ponchiellis encouragement he wrote his first one act opera “Le Villi” which was produced successfully in Milan in 1884. This opera was considered to be remarkable because of its dramatic power and the importance Puccini put on the orchestra, which was due to Wagner`s influence. The success of this opera induced the publisher G. Riccordi to offer Puccini a contract – thus started a lifelong association and Riccordi also became a paternal adviser and friend. His next opera “Edgar” was less successful, but “Manon Lescant”, which he wrote after settling in the small fishing village of Torre del Lago in 1891, brought his first international success. As he said himself, he often went to the lake as he was a passionate hunter of women, waterfowl and texts for his operas. Elvira Bonturi, with whom he lived for eighteen years and whom he married after she had become a widow, forgave him for all his amorous adventures; she knew too well that being in love was existential for his creativity. It can`t be coincidence that eight of his best known operas have a female name in their title.

Puccini became world famous with his next three operas, they also established him as the most remarkable Italian opera composer since Verdi. The operas were: “La Boheme” (1896), “Tosca” (1900) and “Madame Butterfly” (1904). In all three operas Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa were the librettists and Puccini`s advisers. With “Fanciulla del West” (The Girl of the Golden West) he had a brilliant Metropolitan premiere; the American opera house was also the venue for the first performance of “Il Trittico” (Tryptich), “Il Tabarro” (The Cloak), “Suor Angelica” (Sister Angelique) and “Gianni Schicchi” in 1918. During the last four years of his life Puccini worked on what many people consider his greatest opera “Turandot”. It is based on a play by Carlo Gozzi “Turandotte”. The last two scenes were completed by Franco Alfano from Puccini`s sketches, as the master had died on 29. November 1924 in Brussels before the opera`s completion`. “Turandot” was first performed in Milan in 1926. The tune "Nessun Dorma" featured therein gained international fame when the Three Tenors (Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti) sung it at the 1990 Football World Cup in Italy. Subsequently "Nessun Dorma" has become a quasi signature tune for Luciano Pavarotti.

The actions in Puccini`s operas are relatively uncomplicated, so that even spectators who do not understand the texts comprehend what happens. He was a master in portraying simple people. Heroes and scoundrels are rarely featured (Tosca is an exception). The fate of Puccini`s “heroines” are an indication of the empathy he felt for people – these women always come to a sad end despite their love and devotion for their male lovers. This is exemplified in his opera “Il Tabarro” by the phrase: “Chi ha vissuto per amore, per amore si mori” (He who has lived for love , has died for love). Compassion and radiance are further characteristics of his music and also represent his own suffering from almost constant melancholy. Puccini`s concept is certainly deeply rooted within the tradition of 19th century Italian opera. He realized contemporary developments of other composers like Wagner and Stravinsky and assigned the orchestra a more important role. But according to Italian tradition the main focus had to be placed on the vocal part, that means the singers.

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