Giacomo Puccini


Born: 22 December 1858, Lucca, Italy

Died: 29 November 1924, Brussels, Belgium

Puccini is popular – and with good reason.  He is, according to OperaBase, the second most popular opera composer in the world after Verdi, but three of the five most popular operas are his: La bohème, about young love among poor Parisian students; Madama Butterfly, an East-meets-West tragedy about a geisha abandoned by her American husband ; and Tosca, dismissed by highbrows as a “shoddy little shocker” but riveting drama from start to finish.

His operas are theatrically effective: taut, sinewy works, mixing sentiment and drama, with more relatable characters than normal for opera.  Many of his arias have become popular hits, known to people who have never stepped foot in an opera house.  (“Nessun dorma”, for instance, is the unofficial football anthem.)


  1. Le Villi (1884; revised 1885 and 1889)
  2. Edgar (1889; revised 1891, 1892, and 1905)
  3. Manon Lescaut (1893)
  4. La bohème (1896)
  5. Tosca (1900)
  6. Madama Butterfly (1904; revised 1904, 1905, 1906, 1920)
  7. La fanciulla del West (1910; revised 1912)
  8. La rondine (1917; revised 1920 and 1924)
  9. Il trittico (1918)
  10. Turandot (1926)