Thursday, October 14, 2010

The People’s Opera

Meet the Librettists
From Opera Colorado’s La Bohème Guidebook

Luigi Illica was born the small town of Castell'Arquato, Italy in 1857. His personal life sometimes imitated his libretti. The reason he is always photographed with his head slightly turned is because he lost his right ear in a duel over a woman. When silent films based on Illica's operas were made, his name appeared in large letters on advertisements because distributors could not guarantee that his stories would be accompanied by the music of the appropriate composer. Illica had a very clear division of work when working with Puccini and Giacosa; he would plan the scenario and draft the dialogue of each opera. Illica died in the December of 1919 and is now buried in his hometown of Castell’Arquato.

Giuseppe Giacosa was born in Colleretto Parella (now Colleretto Giacosa), near Turin, Italy in 1847. Giacosa began his professional life as a lawyer, not a writer. He graduated in law from Turin University and immediately joined his father’s firm in Milan. Giacosa made the switch to writing permanently after his first one-act comedy, Una partita a scacchi, was a popular success. Puccini’s publisher organized the Puccini/Illica/Giacosa partnership in 1893. Giacosa too, had a clear division of work when it came to writing operas with Puccini and Illica. Giacosa transformed Illica’s prose into polished verse. The partnership between the three ended in 1906 with Giacosa’s death.

Ciao for now!

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