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: Manon Lescaut: Donna non vidi mai

Browse 1-25 of 185 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Verdi Tenor / Carlo Bergonzi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002089202 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Cilèa,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Giulietta Simionato,  Cornell MacNeil,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Piero de Palma  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Friends of Music Society,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Voice For The Ages / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002038509 Release Date: 04/15/2014  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Eduardo Di Capua,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Leone Magiera,  Luciano Pavarotti,  José Carreras,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
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  • 3.
    The 50 Greatest Tracks / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922802 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Malcolm King,  Robert Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Edward Downes  ... 
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  • 4.
    Fernando De Lucia - Complete Gramophone Company Recordings 1902-1909
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 54004 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Jules Massenet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Fernando de Lucia,  Salvatore Cattone,  Antonio Pini-Corsi,  Josefina Huguet  ... 
    Conductor:  Salvatore Sassano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    Luciano Pavarotti - A Legend Says Goodbye
    Label: Timba (Dvd)   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 07/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti
    DVD: $9.99
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  • 7.
    Amore E Tormento / Massimo Giordano
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 538007812 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Massimo Giordano
    Conductor:  Carlo Goldstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
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  • 8.
    Franco Corelli: A Discographic Career
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 214 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Umberto Giordano,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Maria Curtis-Verna,  Piero de Palma,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Basile,  Alfredo Simonetto,  Umberto Cattini,  Angelo Questa  ... 
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  • 9.
    Jussi Björling - Classic Arias & Duets Of Bizet, Puccini, Et Al
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1080 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Emil Markow,  Harry Ebert
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini,  Nils Grevillius
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 10.
    Verdi, Puccini, Meyerbeer, Giordano, Cilea: Opera Arias / Carlo Bergonzi, Et Al
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1305 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Alfredo Simonetto
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan  ... 
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  • 11.
    Verona Live
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233553 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Nucci,  Ghena Dimitrova,  Peter Dvorsky,  Sona Ghazarian  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Franci,  José Collado
    CD: $24.99
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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 56003 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 15.
    Forever Domingo
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001784502 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Agustín Lara,  Nicholas Brodszky,  Salvatore Cardillo,  Ernesto Lecuona  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Sherrill Milnes,  Piero Cappuccilli,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Marcel Peeters,  Karl-Heinz Loges,  Herbert von Karajan,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 16.
    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  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 17.
    Jussi Bjorling's Last Concert
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9064 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Wagner,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Kerstin Meyer,  Olle Sivall,  Hjördis Schymberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Herbert Sandberg,  Kurt Bendix,  Lamberto Gardelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Stockholm Opera Orchestra,  Royal Stockholm Opera Chorus
    On sale! $14.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 1224 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Nicola Martinucci,  Virginia Zeani
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    The Very Best Of Jussi Bjorling
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6789972 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Paul Franke  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Renato Cellini
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    Best Of Plácido Domingo
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 7317022 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Arrigo Boito
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Sherrill Milnes,  Simon Estes,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  James Levine,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Georges Prêtre  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 21.
    Pavarotti Collection Vol 2
    Label: Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog: 9913 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 22.
    Il Tenore / Salvatore Licitra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 798960 Release Date: 02/07/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Licitra,  Mary Plazas,  Marcelo Alvarez
    Conductor:  Carlo Rizzi,  Roberto Rizzi Brignoli,  Daniel May
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 23.
    Nessun Dorma
    Label: Membran / Documents   Catalog: 233346 Release Date: 11/21/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Jules Massenet,  Jacques Halévy,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Bonisolli,  Mirella Freni,  Henno Garduhn,  Maria Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Bruno Bartoletti
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  • 24.
    Joseph Calleja - The Maltese Tenor
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001574702 Release Date: 10/24/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Jacques Offenbach,  Arrigo Boito  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Calleja,  Aleksandra Kurzak
    Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Geneva Grand Theatre Chorus
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  • 25.
    Carlo Bergonzi: Early Recordings
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93480 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Friedrich von Flotow,  Umberto Giordano,  Ruggero Leoncavallo  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi
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