This week's download contains the works of Giacomo Puccini
(1858-1924), considered to be one of the greatest composers of Italian opera.
Puccini , who was born in Lucca, Italy, came from a long line of musicians and composers. He entered his first opera, Le villi
, at the Sonzogno Competition of 1883 by Italian publisher Edoardo Sonzogno. Le villi
failed to win a prize but was later heard by librettist and composer Arrigo Boito. Support from Boito and others helped lead to the publication of the opera by Sonzogno’s competitor, Giulio Ricordi. On May 31, 1884, Le villi
premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, Italy, launching Puccini’s career.
Puccini, known for the genre of opera known as ‘verismo,’ or realism, covered a range of subjects and settings in his operas. La fanciulla del West
is set in a frontier mining town of the American West. Madama Butterfly
is set in Nagasaki, Japan. Turandot
, his final masterpiece, is set in ancient China.
Below are a few songs from some of his most popular works -- La Bohème
and Madama Butterfly
“Wie eiskalt ist dies Händchen” (“Che gelida mania”) from Act I of La Bohème
is sung by Romanian tenor and actor Joseph Schmidt (1904-1942), who was often compared to the Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso. “Vissi d’arte” -- a soprano aria from Act 2 of Tosca
-- is performed by German opera singer Meta Seinemeyer (1895-1929), who was known for her spinto soprano voice, but whose life was cut short from leukemia at the young age of 33. In Act 2 of Madama Butterfly,
“Un bel dì vedremo” -- one of the most popular soprano arias in opera -- is performed by world-renowned Greek-American soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977).
To learn more about the operas of Giacomo Puccini, authorized users can access recordings, scores, and a book below. All users have access to the videos.