Giacomo Puccini

1858 - 1924

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924) was an Italian opera composer who has been called "the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi".

Puccini's early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera. Later, he successfully developed his work in the realistic verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.

Puccini's most renowned works are La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), and Madama Butterfly (1904), all of which are among the important operas played as standards.

Born in the Italian town of Lucca into family with a strong musical tradition. Puccini was encouraged to develop an interest in music from a very early age. His father started him playing the organ, reportedly by placing shiny coins on the keyboard which tempted the young boy to grasp them and thus push the keys down. At school he showed little promise or dedication, preferring the company of friends and indulging a taste for practical jokes that were often both complicated and theatrical.
 

After moving to the local music conservatoire, the Pacini Institute, Puccini's academic record began to improve, and by the age of 16 he was showing an increasing interest in composing and improvising at the organ. In 1876 he walked for seven hours to the town of Pisa in order to attend a performance of Verdi's Aida, despite not possessing the price of a ticket. The opera awoke in Puccini a sense of the power of theatrical music, and with the help of a scholarship endowed by none other than the queen of Italy, he was able to enrol at the Milan Conservatoire in 1880, at that time the country's biggest and most prestigious music college.
 

Puccini's first opera, Le villi, was produced in 1884, but it was not until Manon Lescaut in 1893 that he had a major success. This work set the tone for his celebrated later works by concentrating on the psychology of its female heroine. It was followed in 1896 by one of Puccini's best-loved works, La boheme (1896), produced in Turin. This tale of the exploits of aspiring artists in the bohemian world of mid-nineteenth-century Paris reflects Puccini's experiences in Milan, and subtly marries sentiment with comedy and tragedy. These qualities, along with its masterly characterization and what Debussy called the "sheer verve of the music", have guaranteed its place over the years as one of the most popular of operas.
 

The string of successes continued with his next two operas, Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1904). Tosca was first performed in Rome in an atmosphere of high tension. The work's anti-authoritarian stance and disrespectful portrait of the clergy fuelled rumours that a bomb was to be thrown. The premiere passed peacefully, however, and Tosca achieved great success with the public who enjoyed the melodramatic, even sadistic plot, and the composer's unerring sense of timing. In Butterfly, which rivals La Boheme and Tosca in popularity, Puccini achieved his most successful psychological characterization. The part of the heroine — the Japanese geisha who kills herself for love of the callous American Lieutenant Pinkerton — requires exceptional vocal and acting skill from the soprano singing the title role.
 

Puccini's next opera was La fanciulla del West (The girl of the Golden West), first produced in New York in 1910. A raw, rip-roaring drama set in the American Wild West, it was a triumphant success under the guidance of conductor Arturo Toscanini. La fanciulla was followed by La rondine (The swallow) and a trio of varied one-act operas — Il tabarro (The overcoat)Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) and Gianni Schicchi, known collectively as Il trittico — before the composer started work on his final work, Turandot.
 

Puccini died of cancer before he was able to complete this work, the gruesome story of the wooing of Turandot, Princess of Peking, by an unknown prince who wins her through his courage and persistence. It is performed in a version completed by Franco Alfano. In Turandot, as in all the composer's operas, drama laden with erotic passion, tenderness, pathos, and despair is combined with music of breathtaking melodic invention. The mixture has ensured that the works of Puccini, the true successor to Verdi, continue to occupy a place at the centre of the operatic repertoire.

Key Works

Tosca – Opéra in Three Acts

Act 1
1- « Ah! Finalmente! » (00:00)
2- « Dammi i colori... Recondita armonia » (5:24) - famous passage
3- « Gente là dentro! » (9:51)
4- « Mario..Mario..Mario » (11:02) - famous passage
5- « Ah, quegli occhi! ... Quale occhi al mondo può di paro » (17:58)
6- « E buona la mia Tosca » (23:05)
7- « Un tal baccano in chiesa! » (28:02)
8- « Tutto è chiaro ... Tosca? Che non mi veda ... Mario! Mario! » (31:24)
9- « Ed io venivo a lui tutta fogliosa » (34:28)
10- « Tre sbirri » (38:32) - famous passage

Act 2
11- « Tosca è un buon falco » (42:36)
12- « Ha più forte » (45:39)
13- « Meno male! » (47:56)
14- « Dov'è dunque Angelotti? » (51:12)
15- « Ed or fra noi parliam da buoni amici » (53:12)
16- « Orsù, Tosca, parlate » (57:11)
17- « Basta,Roberti » (1:00:13)
18- « Nel pozzo... Del giardino » (1:01:37)
19- « Se la giurata » (1:05:29)
20- « Vissi d’arte » (1:09:04) - famous passage
21- « Vedi, ecco, vedi » (1:12:18)
22- « E qual via scegliete? » (1:15:57) - famous passage


Act 3
23- « Lo de’ sospiri » (1:22:26) - famous passage
24- « Mario Cavaradossi? » (1:28:00)
25- « E lucevan le stelle » (1:31:05) - famous passage
26- « Ah! Franchigia a Floria Tosca » (1:34:49)
27- « O dolci mani » (1:37:22)
28- « E non giungono » (1:42:14)
29- « Com'è lunga l’attesa! » (1:44:40)
30- "Presto! su, Mario! Andiamo! Andiamo!, Su! » (1:46:54)

Victorien Sardou wrote the melodrama Tosca as a vehicle for the great actress Sarah Bernhardt. Puccini turned it into a spectacular opera, its title role a magnificent vehicle for singers like Maria Callas. Its three acts are set in Rome, in the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle where the painter Cavaradossi helps the fugitive Angelotti, the Palazzo Farnese where the villainous Scarpia has his torture chamber, and the Castel Sant’ Angelo, where Tosca flings herself from the parapet.

Tosca - Visi d´arte

Madama Butterfly

Puccini saw David Belasco’s play about a Nagasaki geisha and her American naval officer lover, Madame Butterfly, and decided to turn it into an opera. Belasco’s play was based on a short story by John Luther Long, which was itself based on an incident witnessed by his sister, Jennie Correll, a US missionary working in Nagasaki.
ACT ONE (60.00) Pinkerton, an American naval officer, arranges to marry Madame Butterfly, a Nagasaki geisha. The marriage is attended by her family, the bride is deeply in love, but
for Pinkerton his vows mean nothing.
ACT TWO (50:00) Pinkerton has sailed back to the USA, and Butterfly, who has had a son by him, awaits his return. When her servant Suzuki suggests Pinkerton may never come back, Butterfly sings the aria “Un bel di” (“One fine day”). She sees his ship entering Nagasaki bay. Butterfly, her son, and Suzuki wait all night for Pinkerton’s arrival.

ACT THREE (30:00) The American consul tells Suzuki that Pinkerton has remarried. Pinkerton and his wife come to collect the child. On realizing the truth, Butterfly kills herself.
 

"Madama Butterfly, Un bel di vedremo

 La Bohème

La Boheme - Pavarotti- "Che gelida manina" Fiamma Izzo d' Amico "Si, mi chiamano Mimi"

Pavarotti and D'amico: La Boheme

Turandot

Turandot was Puccini’s last opera. He fell ill while composing the last act, and died without completing it. In ancient China, Princess Turandot has declared that she will marry the prince who can answer her three riddles. Anyone who fails will be beheaded. Prince Calaf declares that he wants to face the test. He answers correctly, but she refuses to marry him. He proposes that she should guess his name by morning; if she does, she can behead him.

Turandot orders her servants to torture the name from Calaf’s servant, Liu, who is in love with her master. Liu dies, and Turandot learns from her example what it means to love.
 

Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut: Renata Tebaldi
Lescaut: Mario Borriello
Des Grieux: Mario Del Monaco
Geronte: Fernando Corena
Edmondo: Piero De Palma
Una voce sola: Luisa Ribacchi
L'oste: Antonio Sacchetti
Il maestro di ballo: Adelio Zagonora
Un sergente degli arcieri: Antonio Sacchetti
Lampionaio: Angelo Mercuriali
Un comandante di Marina: Dario Caselli

Coro dell Accademia Nationale de Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell Accademia Nationale de Santa Cecilia
Dirigent: Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. 1954

GIACOMO PUCCINI - THE BEST

1. Donna non vidi mai - Manon Lescaut
2. In Quelle Trine Morbide - Manon Lescaut - 2:14
3. Che gelida manina - La Boheme - 4:29 
4. Si, mi chiamano Mimi - La Boheme - 9:06
5. Recondita armonia - Tosca - 14:14 
6. Tre sbirri, una carrozza - Tosca - 16:08
7. Vissi d'arte - Tosca - 19:17
8. E lucevan le stelle - Tosca - 22:19 
9. Vogliatemi bene - Madama Butterfly - 25:25
10. Un bel di vedremo - Madama Butterfly - 28:01
11. Addio fiorito asil - Madama Butterfly - 32:01
12. Ch'ella mi creda - La Fanciulla del West - 33:48
13. O Mio Babbino Caro - Gianni Schicchi - 35:54
14. Nessun Dorma - Turandot - 37:55
15. Nessun Dorma - Turandot - 41:03

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