Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blue Suede Opera

It’s Trivia Tuesday and I’m shocked and appalled that I have not yet written about Puccini! Thankfully, Cherity Koepke - Director of Education & Community Programs – came to my rescue with a fantastic bio for the man we have to thank for La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and other great works.

About the Composer
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (yes, that is his real name!) was born into a musical family in an Italian town called Lucca on December 22nd, 1858. The family had five generations of musical history behind them, including composer Domencio Puccini. Puccini learned the “family business” quickly, and became the organist at the San Martino church after his father died. To supplement his income and help support his mother, Puccini played piano in local taverns. To bring in some extra cash, he had his younger brother and some friends, who operated the bellows of church organ, steal some of the organ pipes so that he could sell them. This may have helped him to decide that he wanted to compose—he had to improvise new melodies and harmonies so that the notes would not be discovered!

Puccini also became the choir master in Lucca, but things were about to change. Puccini’s new dream was to become an opera composer, after he and his brother walked 18.5 miles to see a performance of Verdi’s Aida, that is. After some assistance from a relative and a large grant, Puccini went on to study music at Milan Conservatory of Music.

Puccini’s first attempt at opera, Le Villi, had little success, but nonetheless, the music publisher, Giulio Ricordi, offered him a generous contract after the first performance. (In those days, publishers were like sponsors, and Ricordi continued to encourage Puccini, despite the fact that his next show, Edgar, was also a flop.) Puccini went on to write a string of masterpieces, including La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi and Turandot. He is now considered one of the great composers in the history of opera.

Now you know a bit more about the composer, learn more about the opera at our website.

Ciao for now!

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