Giacomo Puccini

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Puccini, Giacomo

(jä`kōmō po͞ot-chē`nē), 1858–1924, Italian composer of operas. He wrote some of the most popular works in the opera repertory. A descendant of a long line of musicians, he studied piano and organ at his Tuscan birthplace, Lucca, and in 1880 entered the Milan Conservatory. He first gained recognition with a one-act opera, Le Villi (1884). His finest operas, Manon Lescaut (1893), La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (produced posthumously in 1926), display his characteristically lyric style and masterful orchestration, evoking strongly dramatic emotional effects. Although the characters in his operas are rather generalized, romantic figures, they come alive through expressive melody. A penchant for exotic settings produced some incongruities in his music, as in La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West, 1910), and some of his works have been criticized for excessive sentimentality. Wit and dramatic vivacity, however, mark his comic opera Gianni Schicchi (1918), and Puccini has remained, with VerdiVerdi, Giuseppe
, 1813–1901, foremost Italian composer of opera, b. Le Roncole. Verdi, the son of an innkeeper, showed a precocious talent for the organ but was refused entrance to the Milan Conservatory as having been inadequately trained.
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, a preeminent master of the Italian operatic stage.


See his letters, ed. by G. Adami (tr. 1931, repr. 1973); biographies by V. Seligman (1938), M. Carner (1959), R. Specht (tr. 1933, repr. 1970), and M. J. Phillips-Matz (2002); critical biography by J. Budden (2002); studies by W. Ashbrook (1985) and W. Berger (2005).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Puccini, Giacomo


Born Dec. 22, 1858, in Lucca; died Nov. 29,1924, in Brussels. Italian composer.

Born into a musical family, Puccini became a church organist at the age often. He appeared in concerts as a pianist and as an organist. In 1883 he graduated from the Milan Conservatory, where he studied with A. Ponchielli (composition) and A. Bazzini (theory).

Puccini’s creative work is associated with opera. His first operas, Le villi and Edgar (1884 and 1889, Milan), are not among his best, but he won fame for Manon Lescaut (Turin, 1893; based on a novel by the Abbe Prévost). His most brilliant works and the ones most characteristic of his style became internationally famous—La Bohème (Turin, 1896; based on a novel by H. Murger), Tosca (Rome, 1900; based on a play by V. Sardou), and Madame Butterfly (Milan) 1904; after a work by D. Belasco; in Russian, Cho-Cho-san). Puccini also wrote the operas The Girl of the Golden West (based on a play by Belasco; New York, 1910), La rondine (Monte Carlo, 1917), and Il trittico (The Triptych; New York, 1918), which consists of three one-act operas that are distinctly different from each other— Il tabarro (The Cloak), Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica), and Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, Turandot (1922–24; based on a play by C. Gozzi), was completed after his death by the composer F. Alfano and presented in 1926 in Milan.

Puccini’s aesthetic views developed under the influence of verismo. He strove to embody reality, with its typically sharp clashes of passions, in his music. All of his operas center on the image of the woman who is ready to sacrifice everything in the name of love. Puccini’s music, which is built on bold, emotionally rich melodies associated with the traditions of Italian popular songs, is captivating for the beauty and passion of its lyrical melodic line. An innovative composer, Puccini developed the artistic principles of G. Verdi. He created a unique recitativearia style that was new to Italian opera. This style has become one of the main components of the contemporary European opera.


Nest’ev, I. Dzhakomo Puchchini: Ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Keldysh, T. Dzhakomo Puchchini, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1968.
Marotti, G. Giacomo Puccini. Florence, 1949.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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