Puccini, Giacomo

COMPOSER (ITALY)
BORN 22 Dec 1858, Lucca, Toscana - DIED 29 Nov 1924, Brussel
REAL NAME Puccini, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria
GRAVE LOCATION Torre del Lago, Toscana: Villa Puccini, Viale Giacomo Puccini 266 (Chapel)

Giacomo Puccini was born into a musical family in Lucca. His father was Michele Puccini and his mother was Albina Magi. At the time his father died in 1864, his family had held the position of maestro di capella for 124 years, since 1740. Puccini was only six years old and too young to succeed his father. He studied music in Lucca before he entered the Conservatory in Milan, where Ponchielli and Bazzini were among his teachers. He shared a room with Pietro Mascagni. In 1880 he wrote his "Mass". His "Capriccio sinfonico" was performed in Milan.

Ponchielli introduced Puccini to Ferdinando Fontana and together they wrote the opera "Le ViIlli". It was staged at La Scal on 24 January 1885. Music publisher Giulio Ricordi commissioned another opera and this would become "Edgar", that premiered at La Scala on 21 April 1889. Around that time he eloped with his married former piano student Elvira Gemignani, but Ricordi continued to support him. From 1891 he mostly lived at Torre del Laga, a small village fifteen miles from Lucca.

His opera "Manon Lescaut" was staged at the Teatro Regio in Turin on 2 February 1893, one week before Verdi's "Falstaff". It was a great success and it made his reputation. "La Bohème" followed on 1 February 1896 in Turin, conducted by Toscanini. In 1900 "Tosca" followed in Rome and the reworked version of "Madame Butterfly" was staged on 17 February 1904 at La Scala with Rosina Storchio singing.

He had a villa built in Torre del Lago in 1900 at the lake that is now the Villa Museo Puccini. In 1903 he was injured in a car crash on his way from Lucca to Tora del Lago. His mistress Elvira and their son Antonio were also in the car but all survived the crash. In 1904 Elvira's husband was killed by the husband of his mistress and she and Puccini finally married. But Puccini had affairs with Maria Jeritza, Emmy Destinn, Hariclea Darclée, Cesara Ferrani and others. In 1906 in Budapest Blanke Lendvai, the sister of the composer Ervin Lendval, was the object of his love and his affair with Baroness Josephine van Stangel lasted from 1911 to 1917.

His opera "La fanciulla del West" was finished in 1910 and premiered in New York. "La Rondine" was staged in Monte Carlo in 1917. His final opera "Turandot" was unfinished at the time of his death and completed by Franco Alfano. He was a chain smoker of cigars as well as cigarettes and in 1923 he started to suffer from throat problems. He was diagnosed with throat cancer and in 1924 he was recommended a new radiation therapy treatment. He travelled to Brussels for it, but he died there after he was operated.

He was temporarily buried in Toscanini's family tomb at the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan. In 1926 his body was transferred to a newly built chapel inside the Puccini villa at Torre del Lago.

Related persons
• had work performed by Baracchi, Aristide
• was the lover of Destinn, Emmy
• was a friend of Lehár, Franz

Events
31/5/1884Premiere of Puccini's "Le Villi" at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan. Erminio Peltz was Guglielmo. Rosina Caponetti was Anna. Antóni D'andrade was Roberto. Three futher versions of the opera would follow in 1885, 1885 and 1889. 
26/12/1884Premiere of the second version of Puccini's "Le Villi" at the Teatro Reggio in Turin. This time Giovanni Bolzoni was the conductor. The singers were Agostino Gnaccarini, Elena Boronat and Enrico Filippi-Bresciani. 
21/4/1889Premiere of Puccini's "Edgar" at La Scala in Milan. It was Puccini's second opera and the libretto was by Ferdinando Fontana. The opera wasn't successful. It was conducted by Franco Faccio. Among the singers were Gregorio Gabrielesco, Aurelia Cattaneo, Romilda Pantaleoni and Antonio Magini-Coletti. 
1/2/1893Premiere of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" at the Teatro Regio in Turin. The libretto was written by Luigi Illica, Marco Praga and Domenico Oliva. It was based on a novel by Abbé Prévost from 1731. Alessandro Pomé was the conductor. Cesira Ferrani was Manon Lescaut. Other performers were Achille Moro, Giuseppe Cremonini and Alessandro Polonini. 
1/2/1896Premiere of Puccini's opera "La Bohème" at the Teatro Regio in Turin. Toscanini was the conductor. Evan Gorga was Rodolfo, Cesira Ferrani was Mimi, Camilla Pasini was Musetta. [Toscanini, Arturo]
14/1/1900Premiere of Puccini's opera "Tosca" in Rome. The performance took place in the Teatro Costanzi. Hariclea Darclée was Floria Tosca. Eugenio Giraldoni was Baron Scarpia. Leopoldo Mugnone was the conductor. 
17/2/1904Premiere of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" at the Scala, Milan. The opera was based on John Luther Long's short story "Madame Butterfly". Rosina Storchio was Madame Butterfly and Giuseppina Giaconia was Suzuki, her maid. Other singers were Giovanni Zenatello, Giuseppe De Luca, Gaetano Pini-Corsi, Tina Alasia and Emilio Venturini. Cleofonte Campanini was the conductor. The opera was received badly, partly because Piuccini had completed it so late that there wasn't enough time for proper rehearsals. [Campanini, Cleofonte]
28/5/1904Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" is staged at the Teatro Grande in Brescia. It was three months after the premiere in Milan that went badly. Puccini made some changes and this time Solomiya Krushelnytska performed the title part. Cleofonte Campanini was again the conductor and Giovanni Zenatello was again B.F. Pinkerton. Giovanni Zenatello was Sharpless. This time the opera was a success. [Campanini, Cleofonte]
16/5/1906Austrian premiere of "Salomé" by Richard Strauss in Graz [Berg, Alban][Mahler, Alma][Mahler, Gustav][Schönberg, Arnold][Strauss, Richard][Zemlinsky, Alexander von]
18/1/1907Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" is performed at the MET in New York. Lina Cavalieri sang the title part and Puccini was present during the performance. Other singers were Enrico Caruso, Antonio Scotti. Arturo Vigna was the conductor. [Caruso, Enrico]
14/12/1918Premiere of Puccini's "It Trittico" at the Metropolitan Opera. It was a collection of three one-act opera's, "Il tabarro", "Suor Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi". The conductor was Roberto Moranzoni. [Farrar, Geraldine][Muzio, Claudia]
25/4/1926Premiere of Puccini's "Turandot" at La Scala in Milan. Puccini had died in 1924 and his opera was nearly finished at that time. He had wanted it to be completed by Riccardo Zandonai, but his son Tonio refused and Franco Alfano finished the opera. Toscanini conducted the premiere. Rosa Raisa sang the part of princess Turandot. Other parts were sang by Francesco Domini, Maria Zamboni, Carlo Walter, Miguel Fleta, Giacomo Rimini, Emilio Venturini, Giuseppe Nessi and Aristide Baracchi. [Toscanini, Arturo]

Images

The statue of Giacomo Puccini at the Piazza Cittadella, Lucca.
Picture by Androom (16 Feb 2018)

 

The house in Lucca where Giacomo Puccini was born.
Picture by Androom (16 Feb 2018)

 

The house in Torre del Lago near Viareggio where Giacomo Puccini lived. He was buried in the chapel in the house.
Picture by Androom (16 Feb 2018)

 

Statue of Giacomo Puccini in Torre del Lago near Viareggio.
Picture by Androom (16 Feb 2018)

 

Sources
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise:
Giacomo Puccini - Wikipedia
Le Villi - Wikipedia


Pugh, William Russ

Published: 20 May 2019
Last update: 22 Dec 2019