Saturday, December 22, 2012
Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1858, into a musical dynasty in Tuscany. He started his career at age 14 as an organist at local churches until an 1876 performance of Verdi's "Aida" lured him into opera. The hallmark of his works is a rich, unrivalled fusion of erotic passion, sensuality, tenderness, pathos and despair. His first major opera, "Manon Lescaut" (1893), achieved great success, but "La bohème" (1896), with its mix of the lighthearted and sentimental in a conversational style, was not appreciated. "Tosca" (1900), his first "verismo" work (realistic depiction of life), was a huge hit, but "Madama Butterfly" (1904) was a failure he revised five times. Puccini’s final work, the fantastical “Turandot,” was unfinished at his death in 1924, but its tenor aria “Nessun dorma” is one of the most moving and beautiful pieces in all of opera.