Accessibility links

|

Sign In
Basket
Basket

Giacomo Puccini

Composer

Biography

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) is one of opera’s most popular composers. His operas are famed worldwide for the drama and pathos of their plots, for their wonderful melodies and for the wealth of great roles they provide singers.

Puccini was born in Lucca to a family of church musicians. In 1880 he moved to Milan to study at the Milan Conservatory and while a student attended many performances at La Scala. Puccini wrote his first opera, the one-act Le villi, for the Sonzogno Competition; though rejected by the judges, its successful 1884 premiere led Giulio Ricordi to take Puccini on. His second opera, Edgar (1889) was a failure, but he scored a major triumph with Manon Lescaut (1893), his first mature work. While completing Manon Lescaut, Puccini began a fruitful collaboration with librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, with whom he wrote arguably his three greatest operas: La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1904). Following the death of Giacosa in 1906 Puccini struggled to find new subjects and collaborators. However, he continued to create impressive works, with the dramatic ‘Wild West’ opera La fanciulla del West (1910), the tender ‘lyric comedy’ La rondine (1917) and his most ambitious project, the three one-act operas that make up Il trittico (1918).

Puccini’s last years were spent working on his final opera Turandot, set in ancient China. Puccini never completed the final act – he died of throat cancer while working on the final love duet in 1924. Turandot had its premiere two years later, in a version completed by Franco Alfano.

Videos

News and features

<em>Tosca</em> Musical Highlight: The Te Deum

Tosca Musical Highlight: The Te Deum

11 January 2016

A stunning musical depiction of Heaven and Hell closes Act I of Puccini's iconic Roman opera.

Opera Essentials: <em>Tosca</em>

Opera Essentials: Tosca

31 December 2015

Our quick introduction to Puccini’s (not so) ‘shabby little shocker’, which features some of the composer’s most evocative music.

Holding up a mirror: How opera composers reflect community and society

Holding up a mirror: How opera composers reflect community and society

19 November 2015

Composers have long experimented with different ways of giving a sense of community, often using the chorus to highly dramatic effect.

Photos