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

Work: La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì

Browse 1-25 of 228 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Marita Solberg
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1336 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfredo Catalani,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Charles Gounod,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Marita Solberg
    Conductor:  John Fiore
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Norwegian National Opera Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Anna Moffo: The Complete RCA Recital Albums
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 503223 Release Date: 01/15/2016   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Moffo,  Robert Kerns,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Alberta Alberti  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Leopold Stokowski,  René Leibowitz,  Fernando Previtali  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  American Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: The Complete Recitals 1952-74
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553028 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 31
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Strauss,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Edwin Fischer,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Anny Felbermayer,  Josef Metternich  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard,  Otto Ackermann,  Lovro von Matacic,  Josef Krips  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
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  • 4.
    Anmut: My Favorite Arias / Marija Vidovic
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 225 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Marija Vidovic
    Conductor:  Francisco Araiza
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Angela Gheorgiu - Autograph
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564619047 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Alfredo Catalani,  Luigi Cherubini,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Roberto Alagna,  Inva Mula-Tchako,  Jacques Deleplancque  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson,  Marco Armiliato,  Ion Marin,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $27.49
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  • 6.
    Most Wanted Recitals -  Ursula Farr Sings Arias
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002178002 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Albert Lortzing,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Ursula Farr
    Conductor:  Franz Bauer-Theussl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Volksoper Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 7.
    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! $274.98
    CD: $226.99
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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    Angela Gheorghiu: 3 Classic Albums
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002131302 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Jules Massenet,  Alfredo Catalani,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Daniela Vendemiati,  Giuseppe Crott,  Malcolm Martineau
    Conductor:  John Mauceri,  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus,  Turin Teatro Regio Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 11.
    Karajan: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, R. Strauss, Opera Arias - 1946-1949
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633618 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Leopold Wlach,  Julius Patzak,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Elisabeth Höngen  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Friends of Music Chorus
    CD: $64.49
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  • 12.
    Opera Recital / Jarmila Novotna
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4158 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Jacques Offenbach,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Jarmila Novotná
    CD: $14.99
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  • 13.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 14.
    Richard Tucker - The Opera Recital Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 543283 Release Date: 08/06/2013   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Tucker,  Dorothy Kirsten,  Eileen Farrell,  Daniza Ilitsch
    Conductor:  Fausto Cleva,  Nello Santi,  Franz Allers,  Wilfrid Pelletier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Fausto Cleva,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    Madama Butterfly
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2070 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Tito Gobbi,  Anna Maria Canali,  Maria Huder,  Renato Ercolani  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Giuseppe Morelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Rome Opera House Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 17.
    Modest Prima Donna
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1232 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giacomo Puccini,  Alfredo Catalani,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Giannella Borelli,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Anatole Fistoulari,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Giuseppe Morelli,  Walter Susskind  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Paris Opera Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Puccini: Suor Angelica / De Los Angeles, Barbieri, Serafin
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1306 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Fedora Barbieri,  Mina Doro,  Jussi Björling
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  RCA Victor Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    Montserrat Caballe - The Diva
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 548834 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Maya Sunara,  Corinna Vozza,  Sherrill Milnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Anton Guadagno,  Carlo Felice Cillario,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra London,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Eleanor Steber In Opera And Oratorio
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2408 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Lehár,  Ruggero Leoncavallo  ... 
    Performer:  Eleanor Steber
    Conductor:  Howard Barlow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 22.
    The Very Best Of Mirella Freni
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 164942 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Gedda,  Michèle Vilma,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Thomas Schippers,  Leone Magiera,  Antonino Votto  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    60 Jahre Munchner Rundfunkorchester: Great Singers Live
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900309 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Lucia Popp,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ghiaurov,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Georges Prêtre,  Alfredo Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 24.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
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  • 25.
    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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