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     Giacomo Puccini

Puccini, Giacomo (Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria)
b. Dec. 22, 1858, Lucca, Tuscany[Italy]
d. Nov. 29, 1924, Brussels, Belg.

Italian composer, one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end. His mature operas include La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot, left incomplete.

Early life and marriage.

Puccini was the last descendant of a family that for two centuries had provided the musical directors of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Puccini initially dedicated himself to music, therefore, not as a personal vocation but as a family profession. He was orphaned at the age of five by the death of his father, and the municipality of Lucca supported the family with a small pension and kept the position of cathedral organist open for Giacomo until he became of age. He first studied music with two of his father's former pupils, and he played the organ in small local churches. A performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, which he saw in Pisa in 1876, convinced him that his true vocation was opera. In the autumn of 1880 he went to study at the Milan Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Antonio Bazzini, a famous violinist and composer of chamber music, and Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of the opera La gioconda. On July 16, 1883, he received his diploma and presented as his graduation composition Capriccio sinfonico, an instrumental work that attracted the attention of influential musical circles in Milan. In the same year, he entered Le villi in a competition for one-act operas. The judges did not think Le villi worthy of consideration, but a group of friends, led by the composer-librettist Arrigo Boito, subsidized its production, and its premiere took place with immense success at Milan's Verme Theatre on May 31, 1884. Le villi was remarkable for its dramatic power, its operatic melody, and, revealing the influence of Richard Wagner's works, the important role played by the orchestra. The music publisher Giulio Ricordi immediately acquired the copyright, with the stipulation that the opera be expanded to two acts. He also commissioned Puccini to write a new opera for La Scala and gave him a monthly stipend: thus began Puccini's lifelong association with Giulio Ricordi, who was to become a staunch friend and counselor.

After the death of his mother, Puccini fled from Lucca with a married woman, Elvira Gemignani. Finding in their passion the courage to defy the truly enormous scandal generated by their illegal union, they lived at first in Monza, near Milan, where a son, Antonio, was born. In 1890 they moved to Milan, and in 1891 to Torre del Lago, a fishing village on Lake Massaciuccoli in Tuscany. This home was to become Puccini's refuge from life, and he remained there until three years before his death, when he moved to Viareggio. But living with Elvira proved difficult. Tempestuous rather than compliant, she was justifiably jealous and was not an ideal companion. The two were finally able to marry in 1904, after the death of Elvira's husband. Puccini's second opera, Edgar, based on a verse drama by the French writer Alfred de Musset, had been performed at La Scala in 1889, and it was a failure. Nevertheless, Ricordi continued to have faith in his protege and sent him to Bayreuth in Germany to hear Wagner's Die Meistersinger.

Mature work and fame.

Puccini returned from Bayreuth with the plan for Manon Lescaut, based, like the Manon of the French composer Jules Massenet, on the celebrated 18th-century novel by the Abbe Prevost. Beginning with this opera, Puccini carefully selected the subjects for his operas and spent considerable time on the preparation of the librettos. The psychology of the heroine in Manon Lescaut, as in succeeding works, dominates the dramatic nature of Puccini's operas. Puccini, in sympathy with his public, was writing to move them so as to assure his success. The score of Manon Lescaut, dramatically alive, prefigures the operatic refinements achieved in his mature operas: La Boheme, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La fanciulla del west (1910; The Girl of the Golden West). These four mature works also tell a moving love story, one that centres entirely on the feminine protagonist and ends in a tragic resolution. All four speak the same refined and limpid musical language of the orchestra that creates the subtle play of thematic reminiscences. The music always emerges from the words, indissolubly bound to their meaning and to the images they evoke. In Boheme, Tosca, and Butterfly, he collaborated enthusiastically with the writers Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The first performance (Feb. 17, 1904) of Madama Butterfly was a fiasco, probably because the audience found the work too much like Puccini's preceding operas.

In 1908, having spent the summer in Cairo, the Puccinis returned to Torre del Lago, and Giacomo devoted himself to Fanciulla. Elvira unexpectedly became jealous of Doria Manfredi, a young servant from the village who had been employed for several years by the Puccinis. She drove Doria from the house threatening to kill her. Subsequently, the servant girl poisoned herself, and her parents had the body examined by a physician, who declared her a virgin. The Manfredis brought charges against Elvira Puccini for persecution and calumny, creating one of the most famous scandals of the time. Elvira was found guilty, but through the negotiations of the lawyers was not sentenced, and Puccini paid damages to the Manfredis, who withdrew their accusations. Eventually the Puccinis adjusted themselves to a coexistence, but the composer from then on demanded absolute freedom of action.

The premiere of La fanciulla del west took place at the Metropolitan in New York City on Dec. 10, 1910, with Arturo Toscanini conducting. It was a great triumph, and with it Puccini reached the end of his mature period. He admitted "writing an opera is difficult." For one who had been the typical operatic representative of the turn of the century, he felt the new century advancing ruthlessly with problems no longer his own. He did not understand contemporary events, such as World War I. In 1917 at Monte-Carlo in Monaco, Puccini's opera La rondine was first performed and then was quickly forgotten.

Always interested in contemporary operatic compositions, Puccini studied the works of Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky. From this study emerged Il trittico (The Triptych; New York City, 1918), three stylistically individual one-act operas-the melodramatic Il tabarro (The Cloak), the sentimental Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, based on the fable of Turandot as told in the play Turandot by the 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi, is the only Italian opera in the Impressionistic style. Puccini did not complete Turandot, unable to write a final grand duet on the triumphant love between Turandot and Calaf. Suffering from cancer of the throat, he was ordered to Brussels for surgery, and a few days afterward he died with the incomplete score of Turandot in his hands.

Turandot was performed posthumously at La Scala on April 25, 1926, and Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the performance, concluded the opera at the point Puccini had reached before dying. Two final scenes were completed by Franco Alfano from Puccini's sketches.
Solemn funeral services were held for Puccini at La Scala in Milan, and his body was taken to Torre del Lago, which became the Puccini Pantheon. Shortly afterward, Elvira and Antonio were also buried there. The Puccini house became a museum and an archive.


The majority of Puccini's operas illustrate a theme defined in Il tabarro: "Chi ha vissuto per amore, per amore si mori" ("He who has lived for love, has died for love"). This theme is played out in the fate of his heroines-women who are devoted body and soul to their lovers, are tormented by feelings of guilt, and are punished by the infliction of pain until in the end they are destroyed. In his treatment of this theme, Puccini combines compassion and pity for his heroines with a strong streak of sadism: hence the strong emotional appeal but also the restricted scope of the Puccinian type of opera.

The main feature of Puccini's musicodramatic style is his ability to identify himself with his subject; each opera has its distinctive ambience. With an unfailing instinct for balanced dramatic structure, Puccini knew that an opera is not all action, movement, and conflict; it must also contain moments of repose, contemplation, and lyricism. For such moments he invented an original type of melody, passionate and radiant, yet marked by an underlying morbidity; examples are the "farewell" and "death" arias that also reflect the persistent melancholy from which he suffered in his personal life.

Puccini's approach to dramatic composition is expressed in his own words: "The basis of an opera is its subject and its treatment." The fashioning of a story into a moving drama for the stage claimed his attention in the first place, and he devoted to this part of his work as much labour as to the musical composition itself. The action of his operas is uncomplicated and self-evident, so that the spectator, even if he does not understand the words, readily comprehends what is taking place on the stage.

Puccini's conception of diatonic melody is rooted in the tradition of 19th-century Italian opera, but his harmonic and orchestral style indicate that he was also aware of contemporary developments, notably the work of the Impressionists and of Stravinsky. Though he allowed the orchestra a more active role, he upheld the traditional vocal style of Italian opera, in which the singers carry the burden of the music. In many ways a typical fin de siecle artist, Puccini nevertheless can be ranked as the greatest exponent of operatic realism.

Complete catalogs of Puccini's compositions may be found in Mosco Carner, Puccini: A Critical Biography, 2nd ed. (1977). Biographies and monographs include Richard Specht, Giacomo Puccini, the Man, His Life, His Work (1933, reprinted 1970); George R. Marek, Puccini (1951); Dante del Fiorentino, Immortal Bohemian (1952, reprinted 1963); Mosco Carner, Puccini, 2nd ed. (1974); William Ashbrook, The Operas of Puccini (1968); Richard Valente, The Verismo of Giacomo Puccini, from Scapigliatura to Expressionism (1971); Stanley Jackson, Monsieur Butterfly (1974); William Weaver, Puccini, the Man and His Music (1977); and Howard Greenfeld, Puccini (1980).

Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK


Джакомо Пуччини

Потомок старинного рода музыкантов, пятый из семи братьев, в шесть лет он потерял отца - органиста и регента Луккского собора. Учился музыке в местном институте "Пачини" и в Миланской консерватории (у Понкьелли и Бадзини). В Милане же выступил в 1884 году с первой оперой "Виллисы", имевшей большой успех. Ещё больший резонанс получила в Турине в 1893 году опера "Манон Леско". Затем последовал роман с Эльвирой Бонтури ин Джеминьяни, которая только после смерти мужа в 1904 году узаконила свои отношения с Пуччини, - эта связь была прочной, несмотря на многочисленные любовные увлечения композитора. С 1891 года живёт в Торре дель Лаго (идеальное место для охоты и рыбной ловли) и окрестностях, где рождаются другие его знаменитые оперы. Достигший международной известности, выдержавший нападки национальной критики, вызванные его выступлением против первой мировой войны, совершает многочисленные поездки за рубеж, в том числе и в поисках материала для своих произведений.

Оперный композитор в полном смысле слова, Пуччини считается подлинным продолжателем традиций Верди в итальянском музыкальном театре. Вместе с тем его художественный мир отличается от мира Верди, будучи сформированным в другой исторический период. Это период fin de siecle (конца века - франц.), отличавшийся и в Италии поверхностным спокойствием и поисками внешних украшений, был отмечен начавшимся кризисом, который ещё больше обостряла упорно развивавшаяся наука (в особенности марксизм и психоанализ). Пуччини явился выразителем различных идеологических течений и настроений, которые он со всем своим редкостным драматическим чутьём сумел использовать и слить воедино с мастерством и постоянным обновлением выразительных средств (достигнутым также отчасти композиторами других стран, создавшими передовой музыкальный язык, - прежде всего Массне, Дебюсси и другими), до такой степени влившись в поток общеевропейского искусства, что его могли обвинять в уклонении от "национального искусства" ради пресного, хотя и хорошо разработанного "интернационального жанра".

Вкус к живописи, воссоздающей определённую среду (с примечательными обращениями к экзотике), хроматизм, восходящий к Вагнеру и импрессионизму, "сумеречничество" (от итал. crepuscolarismo - направление в итальянском театре конца XIX века) и декаденство, выразившиеся в постоянной меланхолии, с которой порой удачно контрастирует блистательное веселье вставных номеров, мрачное освещение реальности в согласии с приёмами натурализма и веризма, склонность к "слёзной комедии" - таковы наиболее явные компоненты опер Пуччини, облечённые в цельный музыкальный язык, в котором откровенно выразилась и сама его личность. Все выразительные средства без всяких изысков передают суть латинской души, чувственной и страстной в выражении горя и радости, жаждущей излиться в мелодичном пении, так, как это было у великих оперных композиторов-итальянцев XIX века, то есть естественно и непосредственно. Именно благодаря мелодизму и достижениям в вокальной области Пуччини намного опережает других своих современников. Хотя его личность ярко проявилась в свойствах гармонической палитры и в искусной оркестровке (пластичной и строго архитектоничной, но при этом не чуждой эскизности, импровизации), именно человеческому голосу доверяет он задачу выразить свою душу: от гибкого речитатива (так называемого "пения говорком") до вопля и рыдания или бескровной кантилены, преодолевающих напряжение мелодической дуги с сильно взлетающими, подобно буквицам, зубцами. Тщательный и методичный резчик, Пуччини всегда проявлял неудовлетворённость сделанным. Он основательно работал над своими сочинениями и затем вносил в них многочисленные поправки.

Театральный талант Пуччини проявился также в выборе и разработке либретто, к которым он относился с большим интересом, вполне понятным, если учесть значение сюжетов в его операх. Почти все сосредоточенные вокруг женского образа и пропитанные звуковой атмосферой с явными изобразительными намерениями, эти сюжеты свидетельствуют о безупречной технике развития событий и раскрытия судеб и психологии главных действующих лиц, рядом с которыми Пуччини ставит удачных, оригинальных второстепенных персонажей. За исключением единственной великолепной оперы-буффа, "Джанни Скикки" (свидетельствующей о влиянии "Фальстафа" Верди), другие его наиболее типичные произведения заканчиваются трагедией или отягощены её грузом, поскольку любовь, эта великая прядильщица опер Пуччини, обречена стать своего рода искупительным наказанием. Быть может, в "Турандот" композитору удалось бы преодолеть эту тягостную необходимость, создав образ ледяной принцессы, поддавшейся чувству страсти и любви. Но опера обрывается, словно иначе и быть не может, на самозаклании маленькой Лю, жертвующей своей любовью и жизнью ради счастья любимого человека. (Единственное исключение - счастливая любовь Минни, девушки с Запада, но она обретает её ценой резкого отказа от главной роли, от своей реальной сущности.)

-Г. Маркези (в переводе Е. Гречаной)

Ресурсы сети, связанные с исполнителем:
Bio Творческие портреты композиторов
www.musicacademyonline.com/composer/biographies.php?bid=79 Biography
rick.stanford.edu/opera/Puccini/main.html Biography, works
www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/puccini.html Biography, works, links
www.tonnel.ru/?l=gzl&uid=899&op=bio Биография, творчество [ru]
puccini.belcanto.ru Персональный сайт о композиторе [ru]
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Puccini About from 'wikipedia'
ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Пуччини,_Джакомо О исполнителе из 'википедии' [ru]
www.cdguide.nm.ru/composers/puccini.html Биография [mobile] [ru]
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Puccini About from 'wapedia.mobi' [mobile]
ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Пуччини,_Джакомо О исполнителе из 'мобильной википедии' [mobile] [ru]
Хронологические таблицы (Hrono table)  
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CD коллекции, связанные с исполнителем:
  как основной исполнитель ...
 Giacomo Puccini - 'La Boheme' - 1963, BMG
 Giacomo Puccini - 'Madame Butterfly' - 1998, Легенды оперы, Антроп
 Giacomo Puccini - 'Tosca (E Leinsdorf)' - 1998, Легенды оперы, Антроп
 Giacomo Puccini - 'Tosca (V De Sabata)' - 1953, EMI Classic
 Giacomo Puccini - 'Turandot' - 1959, Витаком, 100 великих опер
  как соисполнитель ...
 Joseph Calleja - 'Tenor Arias' - 2004, Decca
 Renee Fleming - 'Homage. The Age Of The Diva' - 2006, Decca
 Nicolai Gedda - 'The Very Best Of Nicolai Gedda' - 2003, EMI Classic
 James Last - 'Eighty Not Out' - 2010, Universal Music
 Alessandra Marc - 'Alessandra Marc - American Diva' - 1992, Delos
 Anna Netrebko - 'Duets' - 2007, Deutsche Grammophon
 Titta Ruffo - 'Prima Voce' - 1990, Nimbus
 Youngok Shin - 'Vocalise' - 1998, Samsung

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