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Giacomo Puccini

Biography

Born: 1858   Died: 1924   Country: Italy  
Giacomo Puccini was the most important composer of Italian opera after Verdi. He wrote in the verismo style, a counterpart to the movement of Realism in literature and a trend that favored subjects and characters from everyday life for opera. On his often commonplace settings Puccini lavished memorable melodies and lush orchestration. It was around the turn of the twentieth century that he reached his artistic zenith, composing in succession his Read more three most popular and effective operas, La Bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly.
Young Giacomo took organ lessons early on from his uncle, Fortunato Magi, and later from Carlo Angeloni. At ten, he sang in local church choirs and by age 14 was freelancing as an organist at religious services. His first compositions were for organ, often incorporating operatic and folk elements. By age 18, under the spell of Verdi's Aida, he decided he would study composition with a view to writing opera. At around this time, he composed his first large-scale work, a cantata, Preludio Sinfonico, for an 1877 competition. Other pieces came in the next few years, but none of significance.
In 1880, Puccini entered the Milan Conservatory, where he studied for three years under Ponchielli and Bazzini. While there, he wrote his first opera, Le villi, which he once more entered in a competition. Though he lost, Arrigo Boito and, more importantly, publisher Giulio Ricordi helped arrange a premiere in Milan on May 31, 1884. The work was enthusiastically received, and Puccini was on his way.
Around this time the composer met Elvira Gemignani, wife of a merchant in Lucca. They carried on an illicit affair, and she gave birth to his son in 1886. When her husband died in 1904, the two were married. Puccini's next opera, Edgar, was poorly received at its 1889 premiere. Subsequent revisions failed to rescue it from its encumbering libretto. His next effort, however, Manon Lescaut, was a sensational success at its 1893 Turin premiere. Subsequent performances in Italy and abroad bolstered the composer's growing reputation.
Puccini's next three operas confirmed his preeminence in Italian opera. La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), and Madama Butterfly (1904) were not immediately as successful as Manon Lescaut, but in time achieved greater acclaim. By the middle of the twentieth century, they had become -- and remain today -- his most often performed and recorded works.
Puccini suffered a creative dry spell for a time and was unable to finish another opera until the moderately successful La fanciulla del West (1910), which premiered in New York with Toscanini conducting and Caruso singing the role of Johnson. His sluggishness of inspiration owed much to charges by his wife he was having an affair with a servant girl, charges that drove the hapless, and as it turned out, innocent young girl to suicide in 1909.
In 1913, Puccini accepted a lucrative commission from Vienna interests, which resulted in La rondine. Received warmly at its 1917 Monte Carlo premiere, it faded under the judgment it was the least of his operatic efforts. Puccini followed this disappointment with his trilogy of one-act operas, Il trittico -- comprised of Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi -- all premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1918. Only the latter work, a comedy, was well received.
While Puccini was working on his last opera, Turandot, he was diagnosed with throat cancer (1923). During radiation treatment in Brussels, he suffered a heart attack and died on November 29, 1924. Read less
Opera Explained - An Introduction To Puccini: La Bohème
Release Date: 07/16/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8558011   Number of Discs: 1
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Puccini: Manon Lescaut / Weber, Zurabishvili
Release Date: 10/28/2008   Label: Arthaus Musik  
Catalog: 101319   Number of Discs: 1
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Puccini: Turandot / Mehta, Sutherland, Pavarotti, Caballe [2 Cds & 1 Blu-ray Audio]
Release Date: 12/09/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002220946   Number of Discs: 3
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The Best Of Puccini
Release Date: 10/20/1997   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8556670   Number of Discs: 1
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Classics Explained - An Introduction To Puccini: Tosca
Release Date: 07/16/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8558047   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Manon Lescaut: In quelle trine morbide

Browse 1-25 of 138 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Maria Callas Remastered - Complete Studio Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633991 Release Date: 09/23/2014   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Richard Wagner,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Gianni Poggi,  Fedora Barbieri,  Paolo Silveri  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Basile,  Antonino Votto,  Gabriele Santini,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin,  Italian Radio Chorus Turin,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $279.99
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  • 2.
    Maria Meneghini Callas Sings Operatic Arias By Puccini
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 634017 Release Date: 09/23/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Callas
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 3.
    Kiri Te Kanawa: The Classic Albums [6-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002013002 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Joseph Canteloube,  Richard Strauss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gottfried H. Stölzel  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Sir Georg Solti,  Gabriele Fontana,  Christopher Bowers-Broadbent  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate,  Sir Georg Solti,  Sir Colin Davis,  Gyorgy Fischer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $39.98
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  • 4.
    Kiri Te Kanawa - Opera Arias
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564635295 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Gustave Charpentier,  Claude Debussy,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Roger Vignoles,  Andrew Schulman
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano,  Jeffrey Tate,  Julius Rudel,  Myung-Whun Chung
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.49
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  • 5.
    Callas Sings Puccini
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1234 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Lucia Danieli,  Nicolai Gedda
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
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  • 6.
    The Opera Album
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233707 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Bonisolli,  Mirella Freni,  Gudrun Schäfer,  Sesto Bruscantini
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Ino Savini
    CD: $24.99
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  • 7.
    Puccini: The Great Operas [13-CD Set]
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 9011 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  John Reardon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Victor De Sabata,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Giuseppe Morelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Columbus Boychoir,  RCA Victor Chorus  ... 
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  • 8.
    Icon: Maria Callas - La Divina
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 23401 Release Date: 09/18/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Francesco Cilèa,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Giuseppe Morresi,  Ebe Stignani,  Raffaele Arié  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Nicola Rescigno,  Georges Prêtre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $41.99
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  • 9.
    Maria Callas - The Studio Recitals
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 59776 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Cilèa,  Umberto Giordano,  Alfredo Catalani  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Monica Sinclair,  John Lanigan,  Joseph Rouleau  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Nicola Rescigno,  Georges Prêtre,  Antonio Tonini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $53.99
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  • 10.
    Verdi & Puccini Recital / Kiri Te Kanawa
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802187 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Maurice Duruflé  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Laurence Dale,  Gillian Knight,  Linda Finnie  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard,  Lorin Maazel,  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris  ... 
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  • 11.
    Leontyne Price - The Complete Collection Of Operatic Recital Albums
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 794051 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  George Gershwin,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Laura Londi,  John W. Bubbles,  William Warfield  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Arturo Basile,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 12.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 828662 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Performer:  Nancy Argenta,  Crispian Steele-Perkins,  Gudrun Jahn,  Barbara Hendricks  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Fischer,  Kirk Trevor,  Louis Langrée,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Paris National Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    La Boheme / Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Bastianini, Serafin
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 2017 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Georgio Onesti,  Attilio D'Orazi,  Ettore Bastianini,  Renato Cesari  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Alberto Erede
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Puccini: Arias & Songs / Te Kanawa, Vignoles, Nagano
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 673914 Release Date: 08/30/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Roger Vignoles
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 15.
    Jussi Bjorling - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 774892 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Emil Markow,  Frederick Schauwecker  ... 
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini,  Nils Grevillius,  Jonel Perlea,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    The Very Best Of Montserrat Caballe
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94792 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Gioachino Rossini,  Joaquin Turina  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Thomas Allen,  Elisabeth Bainbridge,  Alexis Weissenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Anton Guadagno,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Lamberto Gardelli  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Renata Tebaldi Sings Puccini & Verdi Favourites
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1133 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi
    Conductor:  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Alberto Erede
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Geneva Grand Theatre Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 18.
    Irma Gonzalez: En Vivo, 1945-1965
    Label: Urtext   Catalog: 189 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Irma Gonzalez,  Placido [Tenor Vocals] Domingo,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Oralia Dominguez  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Salvador Ochoa,  Carlo Felice Cillario,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
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  • 19.
    The Ultimate Puccini Opera Album
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578066-67 Release Date: 12/14/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luba Orgonasova,  Jonathan Welch,  Thomas Harper,  Miriam Gauci  ... 
    Conductor:  Will Humburg,  Alexander Rahbari,  Michael Halász,  Ondrej Lenárd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Choir,  Belgian Radio And Television Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $13.99
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  • 20.
    Hina Spani - Recordings 1924-1931
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10236 Release Date: 10/15/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Hina Spani
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  • 21.
    The Creators Of Verismo Vol. 1: Bellincioni, Pandolfini, And The Siberia Creator-recordings
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 52062 Release Date: 10/01/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Umberto Giordano,  Arrigo Boito,  Pietro Mascagni,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Gemma Belliconi,  Salvatore Cottone,  Angelica Pandolfini,  Amelia Pinto  ... 
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  • 22.
    50 Best Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57531 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Gustave Charpentier  ... 
    Performer:  Cornelius Hauptmann,  Margareta Lilowa,  Carolyn Watkinson,  Ursula Kunz  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Bernard Haitink,  Rafael Kubelik,  Peter Schneider  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 23.
    Puccini: Opera Arias / Angela Gheorghiu
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65938 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Roberto Alagna
    Conductor:  Anton Coppola,  Antonio Pappano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Puccini: Manon Lescaut Highlights / Sinopoli, Freni, Bruson, Domingo
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469589 Release Date: 10/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Placido Domingo,  Renato Bruson,  Robert Gambill  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 25.
    Creator Records Vol 1
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 1379 Release Date: 10/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Giovanni Zenatello,  Linda Cannetti,  Emma Eames,  Emilio De Marchi  ... 
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