Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Puccini signature.svg

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (UK: i/ CHEE-nee, US: ˈ-/ poo-, Italian: [ˈdʒaːkomo putˈtʃiːni]; 22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924) was an Italian opera composer who has been called "the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi".[1]

Puccini's early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera. Later, he successfully developed his work in the realistic verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.

Puccini's most renowned works are La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (1924), all of which are among the important operas played as standards.

Family and education

Puccini's birthplace, seen in 1984

Puccini was born Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini in Lucca, Italy in 1858. He was one of nine children of Michele Puccini and Albina Magi. The Puccini family was established in Lucca as a local musical dynasty by Puccini's great-great-grandfather – also named Giacomo (1712–1781).[2][3] This first Giacomo Puccini was maestro di cappella of the Cattedrale di San Martino in Lucca.[4] He was succeeded in this position by his son, Antonio Puccini,[4] and then by Antonio's son Domenico, and Domenico's son Michele (father of the subject of this article).[2] Each of these men studied music at Bologna, and some took additional musical studies elsewhere.[2][4] Domenico Puccini studied for a time under Giovanni Paisiello.[2] Each composed music for the church. In addition, Domenico composed several operas, and Michele composed one opera.[2] Puccini's father Michele enjoyed a reputation throughout northern Italy, and his funeral was an occasion of public mourning, at which the then-famed composer Giovanni Pacini conducted a Requiem.[5]

With the Puccini family having occupied the position of maestro di cappella for 124 years (1740–1864) by the time of Michele's death, it was anticipated that Michele's son Giacomo would occupy that position as well when he was old enough.[3] However, when Michele Puccini died in 1864, his son Giacomo was only six years old, and thus not capable of taking over his father's job.[2] As a child, he nevertheless participated in the musical life of the Cattedrale di San Martino, as a member of the boys' choir and later as a substitute organist.[3]

Puccini was given a general education at the seminary of San Michele in Lucca, and then at the seminary of the cathedral.[2] One of Puccini's uncles, Fortunato Magi, supervised his musical education. Puccini got a diploma from the Pacini School of Music in Lucca in 1880, having studied there with his uncle Fortunato, and later with Carlo Angeloni, who had also instructed Alfredo Catalani. A grant from Queen Margherita, and assistance from another uncle, Nicholas Cerù, provided the funds necessary for Puccini to continue his studies at the Milan Conservatory,[2][6] where he studied composition with Stefano Ronchetti-Monteviti, Amilcare Ponchielli, and Antonio Bazzini. Puccini studied at the conservatory for three years, sharing a room with Pietro Mascagni. In 1880, at the age of 21, Puccini composed his Mass, which marks the culmination of his family's long association with church music in his native Lucca.[n 1]