Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini (jä´kōmō pōōt-chē´nē), 1858–1924, Italian composer of operas. He wrote some of the most popular works in the opera repertory. A descendant of a long line of musicians, he studied piano and organ at his Tuscan birthplace, Lucca, and in 1880 entered the Milan Conservatory. He first gained recognition with a one-act opera, Le Villi (1884). His finest operas, Manon Lescaut (1893), La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (produced posthumously in 1926), display his characteristically lyric style and masterful orchestration, evoking strongly dramatic emotional effects. Although the characters in his operas are rather generalized, romantic figures, they come alive through expressive melody. A penchant for exotic settings produced some incongruities in his music, as in La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West, 1910), and some of his works have been criticized for excessive sentimentality. Wit and dramatic vivacity, however, mark his comic opera Gianni Schicchi (1918), and Puccini has remained, with Verdi, a preeminent master of the Italian operatic stage.

See his letters, ed. by G. Adami (tr. 1931, repr. 1973); biographies by V. Seligman (1938), M. Carner (1959), R. Specht (tr. 1933, repr. 1970), and M. J. Phillips-Matz (2002); critical biography by J. Budden (2002); studies by W. Ashbrook (1985) and W. Berger (2005).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Giacomo Puccini: Selected full-text books and articles

Puccini: A Critical Biography By Mosco Carner Alfred A. Knopf, 1959
Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera: From Rossini to Puccini By Danièle Pistone; E. Thomas Glasow Amadeus Press, 1995
Puccini among Friends By Vincent Seligman Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1938
Opera and the Culture of Fascism By Jeremy Tambling Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Puccini and the Swish of the Tosca's Skirts"
Viva La Liberta! Politics in Opera By Anthony Arblaster Verso, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Interlude - Opera without Politics: Puccini and Strauss"
Modern Music: Composers and Music of Our Time By Max Graf; Beatrice R. Maier Philosophical Library, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Great Musicians from Strauss to Puccini"
Sign-Off for the Old Met: The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts, 1950-1966 By Paul Jackson Amadeus Press, vol.1, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twelve "Puccini Ascendant"
Composers on Composers By John L. Holmes Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)" begins on p. 113
Conductors on Composers By John L. Holmes Greenwood Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)" begins on p. 137
The World of Great Composers By David Ewen Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)" begins on p. 439
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera By John Warrack; Ewan West Oxford University Press, 1996 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Puccini, Giacomo" begins on p. 416
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