Chapter 62Opera in Milan after Verdi: Puccini,Toscanini, and Verismo
The Life of Giacomo Puccini (1858– 1924)• 1858 - born in Lucca (near Florence); father a church organist• 1880 - enters Milan Conservatory, studies with Amilcare Ponchielli• 1893 - first operatic success with Manon Lescaut• 1904 - composes Madama Butterfly• 1924 - dies in Brussels
Giacomo Puccini• The most successful Italian composer of opera in the generation after Verdi.• His opera Madame Butterfly (1904) continues aspects of the older Italian number opera.• Also mixes in modern elements that promote greater musical continuity and drama which include: – use of narrative ensembles to tell a story. – connects arias, duets, and choruses .• Puccini also: – brings back themes outside of single numbers – creates groups of themes • to suggest related groups of characters in the libretto.
Principal Compositions by Giacomo Puccini• Operas: 12 including – La Bohème – Madama Butterfly – Tosca – Turandot• Chorus: miscellaneous pieces including a Mass
Verismo• In the 1890’s a new type of opera emerges in Italy.• This type of opera appears as a response to competition from foreign composers – such as Richard Wagner and Georges Bizet .• In verismo opera, characters from low social classes are compelled by elemental passions that drive them to acts of violence .• The first important work of this type was Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and others followed.
Giacomo Puccini, Madama Butterfly , 1904, aria “Dovunque al mondo”Varied strophic form
Teatro alla Scala in Milan (“La Scala”)• “La Scala” was Italy’s most prominent opera house in the late 19 th century.• By the 1880’s, its repertory featured the newest Italian works as well as old favorites and classics (including those of non-Italian origin).• A high level of musicianship was achieved by this theater under the leadership of Arturo Toscanini.
The Life of Arturo Toscanini (1867– 1957)• 1857 - born in Parma, studies cello at local conservatory• 1886 - begins career of operatic conductor in Rio de Janeiro, later in Turin• 1896 - conducts the premiere of Puccini’s La Bohème in Turin• 1898 - appointed chief conductor at La Scala in Milan• 1908 - conducts at Metropolitan Opera in New York• 1928 - music director of New York Philharmonic Orchestra• 1937 - conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra, an organization created expressly for him• 1957 - dies in New York