The Operas of Puccini

Giacomo Puccini is one of the most popular and revered names in the Italian operatic tradition. Lauded in his early years as the heir to Giuseppe Verdi, he wrote a dozen stage works over the course of his 40-year career as an opera composer, from Le Villi in 18884 to Turandot, still incomplete when he died in 1924. Three of his operas - La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly - rank among the ten (10) most-produced operas around the world, and most are produced regularly more than a century after they were written. Despite his popularity, however, Puccini has also faced charges at home and abroad that his later works were theatrically shallow, dramatically overwrought and musically second-rate. This session follows Puccini's entire career, introducing all of the operas and exploring the factors that have given rise to the disconnect between his popular acceptance and the sometimes-harsh critical response.