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Puccini, Giacomo

PUCCINI, GIACOMO

Opera composer; b. Lucca, Italy, Dec. 22, 1858; d. Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 29, 1924. His ancestors for four generations were church musicians, and he was expected to carry on the tradition. After studies at the Lucca and Milan conservatories and two posts as church organist, however, he devoted himself almost entirely to opera composition. Of his 12 operas, Manon Lescaut (1892), La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904), Gianni Schicchi (1918), and the unfinished Turandot are most popular. They are characterized by a melodious style, superb orchestration, idiomatic vocal writing, and a telling sense of theater. "Lax in his religious beliefs, if not actually an unbeliever" (Carner), he did, however, produce a Mass in A-flat (1880, published 1951 as Messa di Gloria ), nonliturgical and highly operatic throughout (the Agnus Dei was later used in Manon Lescaut ). An early motet for the feast of St. Paulina and an unpublished Requiem (1905) are his only other essays in church music, although he used religious ceremonies for dramatic effect in Tosca and Suor Angelica.

Bibliography: g. puccini, Letters, ed. g. adami, tr. e. makin (London 1931). a. bonaccorsi, Puccini (Milan 1950). g. r. marek, Puccini (New York 1951). m. carner, Puccini (London 1958). f. bonavia, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 6:987991. a. w. atlas, "Crossed Stars and Crossed Tonal Areas in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, " 19th Century Music 14 (1990) 186196; "Mimì's Death: Mourning in Puccini and Leoncavallo," The Journal of Musicology 14 (1996) 5279. m. girardi, Giacomo Puccini: l'arte internazionale di un musicista italiano (Venice 1995). h. m. greenwald, "Verdi's Patriarch and Puccini's Matriarch: 'Through the Looking-Glass and What Puccini Found There'," 19th Century Music 17 (1994) 22036. j. c. petty, "The Ravished Flower: A Major Poetics in Madama Butterfly, " The Opera Journal 30/4 (1997) 220. m. rosenthal-english, Giacomo Puccinis 'La fanciulla del West': Eine neue Opern-konzeption im Oeuvre des Komponisten (Berlin 1997). d. schickling, "Puccini's 'Work in Progress': The So-Called Versions of Madama Butterfly," Music and Letters 79 (1998) 527537.

[r. m. longyear]

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