Giacomo Puccini Biography

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Giacomo Puccini Biography

 

I n his time, Giacomo Puccini was the world's richest and most famous living composer. He was born in Lucca in 1858, the 6th of 8 children, in an apartment on the second floor of Corte San Lorenzo 9. Here Puccini spent much of his youth, before moving to Milan. Descended from a family of five generations of musicians, his talent was unquestionable even as a child, even if his reputation was a long time coming. In fact, his popularity and success came with his third opera, Manon Lescaut, when he was 35 years old.

Puccini became famous all over the world and traveled all over to perform his works; but his favourite location was always his home town. In particular, he was very fond of his home in Torre del Lago, where he wrote most of the works; today it host a spectacular open air theatre which stages the Puccini festival in the summer.


Ebook di LuccaAt the time of his death Puccini’s home, in the historical centre of Lucca, passed to his son Antonio and then his wife Rita Dell'Anna, who in 1974 gave the building to the municipality to be turned into a museum. The square where the museum is located is easily recognizable due to the bronze statue of the artist who is depicted as sitting and smoking. As you enter Piazza della Cittadella from Via San Paolino, you will find the entrance to the museum behind the statue of Puccini, on the right.


The key piece in the museum’s collection is the Steinway piano, purchased by Giacomo Puccini in 1901, surely one of the most important pianos owned by the composer, both for its quality, and the fact that it has maintained its original features. On this piano Puccini created much of his music, especially his last painful opera, Turandot. In the Museum you can admire the composer’s family furniture and personal objects, including various awards received during the early period of his career, which began in Lucca as an organist in the Church of San Paolino (one of his early work is entitled Motet for San Paolino). Also on display are letters, sheet music, memorabilia and Turandot’s original dress, worn in the first production of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1926.


Every Saturday at midday, the museum offers free guided tours in Italian. Check that there are no changes to the timetable depending on the time of year.
 

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Puccini's personal life ...


Puccini moved away from Lucca and attended the Conservatorio di Milano. Determined to follow a career as a composer, he composed his first opera Le Villi after completing his final exams. The opera was not a success, but allowed him to become noticed by Giulio Ricordi, the most important Italian music publisher. The latter not only included Le Villi in the catalog of his publishing house, but commissioned Puccini a second opera, Edgar, also a failure during its first presentation.


Meanwhile in the late 1800, Puccini caused a scandal when he fell in love with a married woman, Elvira Bonturi, who in 1886 left her husband to live with him, bringing her daughter with her. For the first few years, the new family lived in difficult economic conditions; often in rented houses, sometimes even staying with relatives, and always separated from each other. With the success of the third opera, Manon Lescaut (1893), everything changed and Puccini was able to create a solid economic basis for himself and his family. In 1896 with La Bohème, he discovered an even greater success, also at international level and with the proceeds bought two country villas, in Torre del Lago and in Chiatri. The success continued with the two later operas, Tosca (1900) and Madame Butterfly (1904), in which Puccini became the richest and most famous living composer of the time. Major opera houses abroad represented his compositions in his presence. The first time was in 1910, with a world premiere of a work of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, which made its debut in New York; it was a great event.


In 1913 Puccini was commissioned by a Viennese Publishing House to write an operetta, ‘The Swallow’; in the meantime the First World War was approaching. The composer spent the years of the conflict, which he hated, mostly in retreat at Torre del Lago. After the war he resumed his achievements. Puccini's two greatest passions were cars (the first he bought in 1902 and this was followed by another dozen) and houses. His last masterpiece was the opera Turandot, which he started in 1920. The work was very problematic and Puccini repeatedly thought about abandoning the enterprise. The work had not yet been completed when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, (for years he had complained of a sore throat). Puccini underwent an innovative and experimental treatment of radiation therapy. Puccini visited a specialist clinic in Brussels. He survived his operation by only a few days and died on November 29, 1924. The unfinished Turandot was staged for the first time in 1926 and since then is one of Puccini's most performed.
 
Curiosities

 

Torre del Lago was a place close to the composer’s heart. Ever since Giacomo Puccini rented a small house at the Massaciuccoli Lake, the small town of Viareggio has tied its name to that of the great composer. Villa Puccini lies within the beautiful landscape of the Lake and is now a museum. The composer’s house here is a rectangular building, lavishly decorated inside and the birthplace of many of his works, which he wrote within the peaceful tranquility of the lake. In the private chapel of the villa, Puccini was buried, along with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. In summer, in the nearby outdoor theatre, the Puccini Festival holds summer concerts.
 
Torre del Lago Puccini's Villa
Close to Puccini's heart was Celle dei Puccini, the ancestral land of the great composer. Of interest is the museum containing memorabilia from grandparents, family members and the musician himself. One last curiosity in the museum in Palazzo Mansi is the beautiful portrait of Puccini by Luigi de Servi in 1903.
 

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