Giacomo Puccini


Born: 22 December 1858, Lucca, Italy

Died: 29 November 1924, Brussels, Belgium

Puccini is, according to OperaBase, the second most popular opera composer in the world after Verdi.

Three of the five most performed 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, a “shoddy little shocker” about an opera singer and a police chief.

Many of his arias are known to people who have never stepped foot in an opera house.  (“Nessun dorma”, for instance, is the unofficial football anthem.)

Tastes vary, though; apart from Gianni Schicchi and the first two acts of Turandot, he doesn’t interest me much.  Madama Butterfly, often suggested as an ideal first opera, is a bore, while La bohème, a rom-com with a sad ending, holds little appeal.


  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)