Giacomo Puccini's Biography
Puccini was seen as the successor to the great Verdi. The composer of some of music's greatest and most famous operas including Madam Butterfly and La Bohème, Puccini was however, no child prodigy.
Educated at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Milan and after working as an organist in local churches, the young composer began his career in less than auspicious circumstances. Although his first attempt at writing for the opera showed promise, his second effort, Edgar, was poorly received having taken four years to complete. This did not deter him and in 1893 Puccini premiered Manon Lescaut that earned him immediate success both at home and abroad.
Closely following this came La Bohème (1896), widely believed to be Puccini's masterpiece but not thought so highly of at the time due to its sentimentality. Working with the same librettists once again, Puccini produced Tosca in 1900 which received a warmer welcome. His next work, Madam Butterfly, opened amongst chaotic scenes at La Scala in 1904, when the audience was whipped into a frenzy by a rival publisher intent on ruining the premiere. Puccini withdrew the opera, revised it and it re-opened to great acclaim.
After a string of less grand works, it was when in his early 60s that Puccini strived to break new ground and he began work on Turandot. However, in 1923 he developed cancer of the throat and despite treatment, died leaving the opera unfinished. It is played today in its incomplete state.
Puccini is today recognised as the last great Italian composer.
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