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December 22

Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini often used leitmotifs in his work. These are short passages of music the composer writes to signal a specific character or theme.

Photo by Romano Cagnoni/Getty Images

1858: For the Love of Opera
Giacomo Puccini is born in Lucca, Italy
Are you surprised to learn that Giacomo Puccini was the latest in a long line of musicians in his family? For a while, he served as a church organist and choirmaster, but then he happened to enjoy a night at the opera: Verdi’s opera, Aida. Puccini was so inspired by what he heard and saw that he decided he, too, would compose operas.

He went on to create some of the world’s best-known ones, from La Boheme to Turandot. Over the next decade or so, Puccini composed what were arguably his three most successful operas in a row—Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La Boheme. Influenced by composers from Verdi to Richard Wagner, Puccini’s operas contain scores of passionate beauty and intensity.
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