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Puccini is the most popular of all Italian opera composers, whose emotionally-charged music has captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Building upon the work of Verdi, his operas similarly focus on flesh-and-blood characters caught in soul-searching predicaments, yet his works are less rigidly structured and employ richer orchestration and harmonies.

Puccini grew up in a musical family. He intended to work as a church organist and composer, but after hearing Verdi’s _Aida_ was inspired to pursue a career in opera. He soon attracted the attention of publisher Ricordi, and won his first and greatest success with _Manon Lescaut_ in 1893, establishing him as a leading figure. His next three operas, all collaborations with librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giocosa, have posthumously become mainstays of the repertoire, yet garnered a mixed reception when new. _La bohème_ skilfully mixes humour and pathos, _Tosca_ marks Puccini’s full adoption of the verismo style, while _Madam Butterfly_ is now regarded as his most sophisticated work though its La Scala premiere was a fiasco.

Puccini and his family settled in Torre del Lago in 1900, but a scandalous affair with a servant girl interrupted his career, and _La fanciulla del West_, _La Rondine_ and his _Trittico_ of one act operas only achieved modest success. His last opera _Turandot_, left unfinished at his death and completed by Alfano, rapidly travelled the world and the aria _Nessun dorma_, immortalised in recent times by Luciano Pavarotti, is for many the epitome of Italian opera.

Bestselling Titles by Giacomo Puccini

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