December 22, 1858: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini is born at at 30 Via di Poggio in Lucca, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the fifth of nine children born to Michele Puccini, an organist and choirmaster at San Martino, and Albina Magi, member of a prominent local family.
August 25, 1873: Giacomo Puccini (14) passes his oral examination for the fifth and last year of Ginnasio. He had to repeat the last year.
March 11, 1876: Giacomo Puccini (17) and two friends walk from Lucca to Pisa in seven hours to see a performance of Aida. Three hours before curtain, having no money for tickets, they talk their way into the Teatro Nuovo (Teatro Verdi) under false pretenses and hide until the opera starts. Puccini will later recall, “When I heard Aida in Pisa, I felt that a musical window had opened for me.”
April 29, 1877: Plaudite populi, a motet for vocal solo, chorus and orchestra by Giacomo Puccini (18), is performed for the first time, in Lucca.
July 12, 1878: A Credo for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Giacomo Puccini (19) is performed for the first time, in the Church of San Paolino, Lucca.
July 12, 1880: A setting of the Roman Catholic Mass (Messa di Gloria) for tenor, baritone, bass, chorus, and orchestra by Giacomo Puccini (21) is performed for the first time, in the Church of San Paolino, Lucca for the feast day of the church’s patron. The work was composed as a graduation exercise from Pacini Institute, Lucca and incorporates an earlier motet and Credo of Puccini. See 12 July 1878.
June 26, 1881: Giacomo Puccini (22) is fined ten lire by the Academic Council of the Milan Conservatory for “continued unjustified absences.”
July 15, 1882: Preludio Sinfonico for orchestra by Giacomo Puccini (23) is performed for the first time, at the Milan Conservatory.
July 14, 1883: Capriccio sinfonico by Giacomo Puccini (24) is performed for the first time, at the Milan Conservatory.
July 16, 1883: Giacomo Puccini (24) leaves the Milan Conservatory, opting not to take an extra year.
May 4, 1884: In Milan, it is announced that the Sonzogno Prize for the best Italian one-act opera is won by works of Guglielmo Zvelli and Luigi Mapelli. Le Villi by Giacomo Puccini (25) is not seriously considered.
May 31, 1884: Le Villi, a leggenda drammatica by Giacomo Puccini (25) to words of Fontana after Karr, is performed for the first time, in the Teatro dal Verme, Milan. The librettist raised money for the production from friends, acquaintances, anonymous donors, musicians, and writers. Watching from the wings is the composer's friend Pietro Mascagni (20). After the performance, Puccini has to borrow enough money to send his mother the following telegram: CLAMOROUS SUCCESS. EIGHTEEN CURTAIN CALLS. FIRST FINALE REPEATED THREE TIMES. AM HAPPY.
June 8, 1884: Ricordi announces that he will publish Le Villi and commissions Giacomo Puccini (25) and Ferdinando Fontana to produce a new work.
December 23, 1886: In Monza, a son is born to Giacomo Puccini and his lover, Elvira Bonturi Gemignani, whose husband is a merchant in Lucca, a day after the composer’s 28th birthday.
April 21, 1889: Edgar, a dramma lirico by Giacomo Puccini (30) to words of Fontana after de Musset, is performed for the first time, at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The critics are mixed and it receives only one more performance at La Scala.
May 7, 1889: Giacomo Puccini (30) writes to his publisher, Ricordi, asking that he secure the rights to the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, now on a successful tour of Europe. Sardou will refuse.
January 26, 1890: Crisantemi for string quartet by Giacomo Puccini (31) is performed for the first time, at the Milan Conservatory. The audience is so delighted they require the repetition of the entire work.
February 1, 1893: Manon Lescaut, a dramma lirico by Giacomo Puccini (34) to words of Oliva and Illica after Abbé Prévost, is performed for the first time, in Teatro Regio, Turin. Before the performance, the composer muses that if the opera is not a success he will have to change professions. Puccini receives 30 curtain calls. The press is very positive. He does not change professions.
February 9, 1893: Falstaff, a commedia lirica by Giuseppe Verdi (79) to words of Boito (50) after Shakespeare, is performed for the first time, at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Numerous state and musical luminaries are present including Giacomo Puccini (34), Pietro Mascagni (29) and Teresa Stolz. Unlike the premiere of Otello, Verdi, his wife, and Boito manage to make it out of the theatre unscathed, but when they reach the Grand Hôtel de Milan the mob of admirers and well wishers awaits. The three make it into the lobby to be greeted by dignitaries and then appear to the crowds on the balcony. See 5 February 1887.
July 1, 1894: On a sightseeing trip in Malta, Giacomo Puccini (35) is arrested for photographing a military installation. He is released after a few hours having convinced the British authorities of his ignorance of military matters.
February 1, 1896: La bohème, an opera by Giacomo Puccini (37) to words of Illica and Giacosa after Murger, is performed for the first time, in Teatro Regio, Turin. The audience, which includes members of the royal family, Arrigo Boito (53), and Pietro Mascagni (32), is appreciative but not wildly enthusiastic. Reviews are poor. The composer is disappointed.
November 22, 1898: Iris, a melodramma by Pietro Mascagni (34) to words of Illica, is performed for the first time, in Teatro Costanzi, Rome, the composer conducting before a glittering audience which includes Queen Margerita and many aristocrats, Gabriele d’Annunzio, Giacomo Puccini (39), Arrigo Boito (56), and Siegfried Wagner. It is a popular but not critical success. Puccini feels that Mascagni did the best he could with a poor libretto. The rehearsals were a shambles, with the original conductor, Edoardo Mascheroni, storming out and sending off an indignant letter to the press.
October 10, 1899: After a sleepless night, Giulio Ricordi writes to Giacomo Puccini (40) the longest letter he will ever write to him. “The third act of Tosca, as it stands, is a grave error of conception and craftsmanship...” He goes into detail about his misgivings. Puccini will not make any changes.
January 14, 1900: Tosca, a melodramma with words by Illica and Giacosa after Sardou and music by Giacomo Puccini (41) is performed for the first time, before a glittering audience in Teatro Costanzi, Rome. The composer is called eight times. But the critics are mixed and generally negative.
February 27, 1901: According to the composer’s wishes, the bodies of Giuseppe Verdi (†0) and his wife, Giuseppina, are moved from the Cimitero Monumentale and buried together at the Casa di Riposa, Milan. This second funeral is attended by 300,000 people, including many eminent representatives of the Italian state and foreign governments. Also in attendance are Ruggero Leoncavallo (43), Giacomo Puccini (42), and Pietro Mascagni (37). Before the procession begins, a massed choir of 820 voices, directed by Arturo Toscanini, sings Va pensiero from Nabucco.
February 25, 1903: Near the village of San Macario, near Lucca, Giacomo Puccini (44) is seriously injured in an automobile accident. The composer is trapped under the overturned car and saved only because he lies in a ditch while the car rests on a fallen tree. He suffers several contusions and a fracture of the right shin. Later, after tests prompted by the lack of healing in the leg, he will be diagnosed to have diabetes.
February 26, 1903: One day after Giacomo Puccini (44) is seriously injured in an automobile accident, Narciso Gemignani, husband of his lover of seventeen years, dies in Lucca. The couple are now free to marry. See 4 January 1904.
January 3, 1904: A week after finishing Madama Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini (45) marries Elvira Bonturi Gemignani, his lover of 18 years and mother of his 17-year-old son. The civil ceremony takes place in Viareggio, the religious in Torre del Lago.
February 17, 1904: Madama Butterfly, a tragedia giapponese by Giacomo Puccini (45), to words of Illica and Giacosa after Belasco and Long, is performed for the first time, in the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The production is accompanied by whistles, shouts, and general pandemonium engineered by rivals of the composer. Reviews are mixed. Puccini, Illica, and Giacosa withdraw the production tonight and cancel an upcoming engagement in Rome to make changes.
October 22, 1904: In London, Giacomo Puccini (45) writes an acceptance to a dinner invitation from Sybil Seligman, wife of a wealthy banker. It is the first of 700 letters he will write to her.
June 23, 1905: Giacomo Puccini (46) and his wife arrive in Buenos Aires after a difficult crossing from Italy. He is there on an invitation from the Argentine newspaper La Prensa.
January 18, 1907: After an Atlantic crossing slowed by fog and rough seas, Giacomo Puccini (48) arrives in New York two hours before the Metropolitan Opera production of his Manon Lescaut. He enters the theatre in the middle of the first act. When the composer is acknowledged at intermission, the audience stands and cheers for ten minutes.
January 22, 1907: The American premiere of Salome by Richard Strauss (42) takes place at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. The audience, which includes Giacomo Puccini (48), is calm until the Dance of the Seven Veils. After a glowing review, the New York Times will report, “It was the dance that women turn away from, and many of the women in the Metropolitan Opera House last night turned away from it. Very few men in the audience seemed comfortable. They twisted in their chairs, and before it was over there were numbers of them who decided to go to the corridors and smoke.” As Salome sings to the head, some audience members leave, while most stand to get a better view.
January 27, 1907: The Metropolitan Opera of New York honors Giacomo Puccini (48) with a banquet at the Hotel St. Regis.
December 25, 1908: Elvira Puccini (wife of Giacomo Puccini (50)) publicly confronts her servant Doria Manfredi, accusing her of an affair with her husband.
January 23, 1909: Distraught by incessant charges that she is having an affair with Giacomo Puccini (50), brought by Sra. Elvira Puccini, Doria Manfredi, their servant, ingests poison. The dose is not immediately fatal but renders her seriously ill. See 28 January 1909.
July 6, 1909: A court in Pisa hears the case brought by the family of Doria Manfredi against Elvira Puccini (wife of Giacomo Puccini (50)). She will be found guilty of defamation of character and libel resulting in Doria Manfredi’s suicide and sentenced to five months and five days in prison, a fine of 700 lire and all court costs. See 23 January 1909.
July 21, 1909: Elvira Puccini files an appeal to the verdict and sentence of 6 July. She admits libel but denies defamation. Her husband, Giacomo Puccini (50) will eventually settle the suit with Doria Manfredi’s family for 12,000 lire.
June 9, 1910: Giacomo Puccini (51) signs a contract in New York to produce La Fanciulla del West in December at the Metropolitan Opera.
December 10, 1910: La fanciulla del West, an opera by Giacomo Puccini (51) to words of Civinini and Zangarini after Belasco, is performed for the first time, before a glittering audience (which includes Engelbert Humperdinck (56)) at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Although there is no applause through the first act, Puccini, Toscanini, and the cast receive 14 curtain calls at the intermission, 19 after the second act, and 14 at the end. Even though the critics are mixed, the production is a spectacular success.
December 26, 1910: After great success with La Fanciulla del West, Giacomo Puccini (52) departs New York for Europe.
April 9, 1915: Giacomo Puccini (56) begins the finishing touches of La Rondine, fulfilling a commission from the Karlstheater, Vienna. In six weeks Italy will declare war on Austria-Hungary.
March 27, 1917: La Rondine, a commedia lirica by Giacomo Puccini (58) to words of Adami after Willner and Reichert, is performed for the first time, at the Monte Carlo Opéra. The composer calls it a “true success.” See 9 April 1915.
April 3, 1917: A week after the successful premiere of La Rondine at the Monte Carlo Opera, Prince Albert I of Monaco awards the Order of St. Charles to Giacomo Puccini (58).
December 14, 1918: Il Trittico, a series of three operas by Giacomo Puccini (59), Il tabarro, to words of Adami after Gold, Suor Angelica, to words of Forzano, and Gianni Schicchi to words of Forzano after Dante, are performed for the first time, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. It was originally hoped that the premiere would take place in Rome, but too many performers are in the armed forces.
June 1, 1919: Inno a Roma for chorus and instruments by Giacomo Puccini (60) to words of Salvatori, is performed for the first time, in the National Stadium, Rome. The composer calls it “a load of rubbish.”
April 1, 1924: Giacomo Puccini (65) travels to Florence to see Arnold Schoenberg (49) conduct his Pierrot Lunaire. “Who can say that Schoenberg will not be a point of departure to a goal in the distant future? But at present--unless I understand nothing--we are as far from a concrete artistic realization of it as Mars is from Earth.” Also present, and quite overwhelmed, is a conservatory student named Luigi Dallapiccola (20).
October 10, 1924: Giacomo Puccini (65) travels to Florence see a specialist, Dr. Torrigiani. He will be diagnosed with a benign papilloma. It is not believed to be life threatening, but he is advised to have it removed immediately.
October 26, 1924: Giacomo Puccini (65) makes a long-planned visit to his ancestral home of Celle. He is feted by the local population.
November 4, 1924: Giacomo Puccini (65) travels by train from Pisa to Brussels for treatment of his throat ailment.
November 24, 1924: After ten days of X-ray treatments for throat cancer in Brussels, Giacomo Puccini (65) undergoes an operation for the ailment. The four-hour procedure places seven radioactive needles around the tumor in his throat.
November 27, 1924: Evening. Before the needles inserted into the throat of Giacomo Puccini (65) on 24 November can be removed, he suffers a heart attack.
November 29, 1924: 04:00 Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini dies at the Institut Chirurgical in Brussels, Kingdom of Belgium, of heart failure following X-ray treatment and surgery for throat cancer. He is aged 65 years, eleven months, and seven days.
December 1, 1924: A funeral service is held in memory of Giacomo Puccini in the Church of Sainte-Marie, Brussels. The body is then transported by train to Milan.
December 3, 1924: Rites of the Roman Catholic Church are performed for the remains of Giacomo Puccini in the Milan Cathedral as the La Scala orchestra plays his music from Edgar conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The body is then placed temporarily in the Toscanini family tomb in the Cimitero Monumentale. The funeral oration is given by Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. See 29 November 1926.
April 25, 1926: Turandot, a dramma lirico by Giacomo Puccini (†1) to words of Adami and Simoni, after Gozzi and Schiller, and finished by Franco Alfano, is performed for the first time, at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. During the performance, after the death of Liù, the conductor, Arturo Toscanini, stops the orchestra, turns to the audience and announces, “at this point, the master put down his pen.” There is a long silence. Then, from the balcony comes the shout “Viva Puccini!”, followed by a long ovation. The “completed” version by Franco Alfano will be heard at the second performance, on 27 April. Mussolini is not present since Toscanini has refused to play the Fascist anthem La Giovinezza.
November 29, 1926: On the second anniversary of his death, the earthly remains of Giacomo Puccini are removed from the Toscanini family tomb in Milan and interred at the composer’s villa at Tore del Lago, Lucca.
October 25, 1939: The first performance in the newly built State Theatre in Athens is Giacomo Puccini’s (†14) Madama Butterfly. In attendance tonight are King Georgios and, at the special invitation of the Greek government, the son and daughter-in-law of the composer. See 28 October 1939.
April 3, 1947: Rights to the music of Giacomo Puccini (†22), seized during the war, are sold to Milton L. Shubert of New York by the US government. Attorney-General Tom Clark says that the music is protected from “despoilment.” Puccini’s heirs are trying to prevent Shubert from making a broadway musical out of them.
November 28, 1994: Sogno d’Or, a song for voice and piano by Giacomo Puccini to words of his nephew Carlo Marsili, is performed probably for the first time, at the Teatro del Giglio, Lucca on the 70th anniversary of the composer’s death.