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

Puccini: Tosca / Tebaldi, Tagliavini, Gobbi, Molinari-Pradelli
Release Date: 05/31/2011   Label: Ica Classics  
Catalog: 5022   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: La Bohème: Musetta's Waltz

Browse 1-25 of 180 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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
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  • 2.
    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  ... 
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  • 3.
    Arias And Scenes / Nino Machaidze
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 544791 Release Date: 07/23/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ambroise Thomas,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Nino Machaidze
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7702567 Release Date: 06/14/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas
    Conductor:  Georges Sebastian,  Nicola Rescigno,  Georges Prêtre,  Antonino Votto  ... 
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    Sensatiable
    Label: Bon Operatit!   Catalog: 5638070440 Release Date: 01/17/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Denza,  George Gershwin,  Giacomo Puccini,  Andrew Lloyd Webber  ... 
    Performer:  Jesse Nolan,  Jacob Penick,  Lauren Mouney Gisclair,  Mary Penick Akin  ... 
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  • 7.
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 50865 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    CD: $23.99
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  • 8.
    Label: Avalon   Catalog: 57227 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Sartori,  Pietro Mascagni,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Nick Lucchese,  Attila Darvas,  Igor Romanyk,  Jerry Caringi  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantine Kremetz
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  • 9.
    Dreamticket To La Boheme
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 21002 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Margherita Carosio,  Maria Cebotari  ... 
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 10.
    Label: Simply   Catalog: 1206108 Release Date: 09/04/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Joszef Mukle,  Alberto Cupido,  Graciela Alperyn  ... 
    Conductor:  Camerata Budapest,  László Kovács,  Martin Elmquist,  Alexander Rahbari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scholars Baroque Ensemble,  I Solisti Italiani
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  • 11.
    Maria Callas - The Live Recitals
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 59794 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Léo Delibes,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Nicola Rescigno,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Jeffrey Tate
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Georges Prêtre,  Nicola Rescigno,  Alfredo Simonetto  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  ORTF National Orchestra,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    Around The World: Music For Ballet Class
    Label: Whitefeather Productions   Catalog: 5637839759 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tatyana Shargorodsky,  Peregrino Paulos,  Jose Luis Padula,  Johann Strauss Sr.  ... 
    Performer:  Tatyana Shargorodsky
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  • 13.
    Voices Of Italian Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40509 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Edita Gruberova,  Margherita Carosio,  Francesco Meli  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Evelino Pidò  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Great Opera
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501054 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Adrianne Pieczonka,  Boje Skovhus,  Renato Girolami,  Janusz Monarcha  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Will Humburg,  Alexander Rahbari,  Rico Saccani
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia,  Hungarian Radio Chorus,  Failoni Orchestra Budapest  ... 
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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    First Choice: Opera Arias
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001662802 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Jules Massenet,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Netrebko,  Elina Garanca,  David Aronson
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
    CD: $11.99
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  • 17.
    Puccini: Opera Arias / Angela Gheorghiu
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6783292 Release Date: 03/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Unspecified
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Roberto Alagna
    Conductor:  Anton Coppola,  Antonio Pappano
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  • 18.
    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  ... 
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    Best Soprano Arias 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80442 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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  • 21.
    Aleksandra Kurzak - Gioia
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001574602 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Aleksandra Kurzak,  Francesco Demuro
    Conductor:  Omer Meir Wellber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Valencia Community Orchestra
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  • 22.
    The Opera Album 2011
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001566102 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Giacomo Puccini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Alfredo Catalani  ... 
    Performer:  Bryn Terfel,  Anna Netrebko,  Andrea Bocelli,  Jonas Kaufmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth,  Gianandrea Noseda,  Zubin Mehta,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
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  • 23.
    Amour, Amor, Amore
    Label: Elisabeth Turchi   Catalog: 5637784687 Release Date: 06/07/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Paisiello,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Scott Beard,  Elisabeth [Soprano (Vocal)] Turchi
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  • 24.
    Great Singers Live - Mirella Freni
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900303 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ghiaurov,  Kurt Eichhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Essential Puccini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07139 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Alfredo Kraus,  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Gedda,  Leontina Vaduva  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Thomas Schippers,  Antonio Pappano,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
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