At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Giacomo Puccini – opera composer


Musical genius who took the baton from Verdi


Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest composers of Italian opera, was born on this day in 1858 in Lucca in Tuscany.

This photograph of Puccini was taken in America in 1908
Giacomo Puccini, pictured in
New York in 1908
He had his first success with his opera, Manon Lescaut, just after the premiere of Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff. Manon Lescaut was a triumph with both the public and the critics, and he was hailed as a worthy successor to Verdi.
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Puccini was born into a musical family who encouraged him to study music as a child while he was growing up in Lucca.

He moved to Milan to continue his studies at the Milan Conservatory, where he was able to study under the guidance of the composer, Amilcare Ponchielli.

He wrote an orchestral piece that impressed Ponchielli and his other teachers when it was first performed at a student concert. Ponchielli then suggested that Puccini’s next work might be an opera.


Watch Andrea Bocelli sing Puccini's Nessun Dorma in London in 2012





Puccini’s first attempt at opera was successful enough for it to be purchased by a firm of music publishers and after some revisions it was performed at La Scala in Milan.

But when his next opera, Edgar, was first performed at La Scala it was not so well received.

After some revisions it was performed again in Lucca where it was more popular.

But his next opera, Manon Lescaut, was a triumph when it was first performed in Turin in 1893.

His next three operas, La Boheme, Tosca and Madam Butterfly, were also big successes and are still regularly performed today.

His final opera, Turandot, was still not completed when he died, but Puccini was able to leave the world with the amazing aria, Nessun Dorma.

Puccini died in Brussels in 1924 after unsuccessful treatment for throat cancer. When news of his death reached Rome during a performance of La Boheme, the opera was immediately stopped and the orchestra played Chopin’s Funeral March to the saddened audience.

Puccini’s body was buried inside a mausoleum built after his death in his villa at Torre del Lago in Tuscany.


More opera -- Domenico Cimarosa, father of comic opera, born 17 December, 1749


Travel tip:

You can still visit Puccini’s birthplace in Corte San Lorenzo in Lucca . The house is now a museum containing many of the composer’s furniture, personal items and letters. For more information visit www.fondazionegiacomopuccini.it 

Puccini restored a house at Torre del Lago as a family home
The statue of Giacomo Puccini at Torre del Lago,
where he made his home
Photo: Sailko (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Travel tip:

Puccini restored a house at Torre del Lago to live in after he became successful. He is buried along with members of his family in a mausoleum built at the house. For more information visit www.giacomopuccini.it

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