Giacomo Puccini


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 Bohčme, 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 Bohčme (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 176-188 of 188 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Granada - The Greatest Hits Of Placido Domingo
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445777 Release Date: 07/01/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Helen Guy,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Walter Gullino,  Rosalind Plowright,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Karl-Heinz Loges,  Marcel Peeters,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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  • 177.
    Famous Tenor Arias / Harper, Czecho-slovak Rso, Halász
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 550497 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Umberto Giordano,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Harper
    Conductor:  Michael Halász
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
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  • 178.
    Italian & French Opera Arias / Peter Dvorsky, Lenard
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 550343 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eduardo Di Capua,  Ernesto De Curtis,  Agustín Lara,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Dvorsky
    Conductor:  Ondrej Lenárd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 179.
    Ti Amo - Puccini's Greatest Love Songs
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425099 Release Date: 10/12/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Tom Krause,  Montserrat Caballé,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Herbert von Karajan,  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 180.
    Mad About Puccini
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439151 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Mirella Freni,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Juan Pons  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Herbert von Karajan,  Leonard Bernstein,  Roberto Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 181.
    The Best Of Puccini
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8551120 Release Date: 06/28/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Miriam Gauci,  Thomas Harper,  Jonathan Welch,  Luba Orgonasova  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari,  Michael Halász,  Will Humburg,  Ondrej Lenárd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Belgian Radio & TV Philharmonic Orchestra,  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava,  Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus
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  • 182.
    Prima Voce - Beniamino Gigli Vol 2 1925-1940
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7817 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giulio Caccini,  Francesco Cilča,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Giuseppe de Luca,  Beniamino Gigli
    CD: $11.99
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  • 183.
    Prima Voce - Caruso
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7803 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Halévy,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Antonio Carlos Gomes,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Enrico Caruso
    Conductor:  Josef Pasternack
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $11.99
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  • 184.
    Luciano Pavarotti In Hyde Park
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436320 Release Date: 04/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Ernesto De Curtis,  Eduardo Di Capua,  Cesare Andrea Bixio  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
    CD: $12.99
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  • 185.
    Essential Opera - Bizet, Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433822 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Georges Bizet,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Nucci,  Placido Domingo,  Piero de Palma,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Patané,  Sir Georg Solti,  Zubin Mehta,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 186.
    Jussi Björling - Opera Arias / Leinsdorf, Rome Opera
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 5934 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Renata Tebaldi,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Fernando Corena
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini,  Jonel Perlea,  Nils Grevillius,  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 187.
    Tutto Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425681 Release Date: 04/28/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Julia Varády,  Ida Bormida,  Robert Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  István Kertész,  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan,  Oliviero de Fabritiis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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