Famous Puccini Operas
Famous Puccini Operas List
Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1858 in Lucca, Italy into a musical family. After seeing Aida by Verdi, he decided to dedicate his life to opera. He first achieved success with Manon Lescaut in 1893 and went on to write some of most popular operas in the world. Of the famous Puccini operas his best-known aria is Nessun Dorma from Turandot which Pavarotti helped to make famous. Puccini enjoyed great fame and success and loved cigars and cars until he died on November 29, 1924 in Brussels after surgery for throat cancer.
Warning! The plot outlines include spoilers
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|Opera||World Premiere||Acts, Duration||Plot description of famous Puccini operas from 1858-1924|
|Manon Lescaut||February 1, 1893 in Turin||4 Acts, 2 hours||Student Des Grieux is in love with Manon Lescaut but her father wants her to go to the convent. The tax farmer Geronte is also in love with her and organizes a rendezvous. Des Grieux finds out and persuades Manon to flee with him to Paris where they live together in a humble dwelling. However, her brother brings her back to Geronte who showers her with gifts. Des Grieux follows her back and she falls into his arms. Geronte is jealous and threatens to have him arrested. The student wants to flee but Manon doesn’t want to leave her jewelry behind. Before they know it, the house is surrounded, she is arrested and exiled to an American penal colony. Des Grieux follows her to America, where both abscond into the desert. Once there, Manon swears her eternal love for him but dies of thirst.|
|La bohème||February 1, 1896 in Turin||4 Acts, 1:50 hours||Poet Rodolpho, painter Marcello and musician and philosopher Colline Schaunard are shivering in their apartment on Christmas Eve. Only Schaunard has any money and invites the others to a meal in a cafe. Rudolpho is delayed and there is a knock at the door. Mimi, the pretty but sick neighbor, asks for a light for her candle. They fall in love and follow the friends to the cafe. Musetta – Marcello’s former lover – enters the restaurant with a rich, older lover but leaves him sitting and disappears with Marcello. Months later, Rudolpho leaves Mimi because he believes he isn’t able to help the sick girl without any money. Mimi convinces him to stay with her. Another few months later (just as the artists are joking about their poverty) Musetta crashes into the apartment with the terminally ill Mimi. Everyone wants to help, but to no avail; Mimi dies Rodolphos’ arms.|
|Tosca||January 14, 1900 in Rome||3 Acts, 2 hours||Cesare Angelotti, a political refugee, is in hiding at his friend’s, the painter Mario Cavaradossi in a church. Tosca, Mario’s beloved enters and believes that one of his paintings looks similar to one of Angelotti’s sisters. Furious with jealousy, she threatens to return with the Chief of Police. Mario helps Angelotti to hide again. The police come and arrest Mario, who despite being tortured refuses to reveal the hiding place. Tosca hears his cries and begs police chief Scarpia to show him mercy. He agrees to save Mario’s life if she gives herself to him. She agrees but stabs him when they first embrace. She sneaks off to Mario and tells him that the shooting is just for show as promised by Scarpia. The shots are fired, but Mario remains on the ground. Tosca realizes that Scarpia lied to her and throws herself off the Castel Sant’Angelo in desperation.|
|Madame Butterfly||January 14, 1900 in Rome||3 Acts (originally 2), 2:30 hours||US Navy Lieutenant Pinkerton falls for the 15 -year-old geisha girl Cio-Cio-San, known as Butterfly, in Nagasaki. However, he doesn’t take the following Japanese marriage seriously. She, on the other hand, does, and converts to Christianity for his sake leading her to be cursed by her family. A short time later, Pinkerton has to return to the US. She stays behind and waits with their son for his return. Several years later, Pinkerton indeed returns at last but accompanied by his new wife and he now wants custody of his son. Butterfly agrees, but only on condition that he comes over to collect him. Just before this happens, Cio-Cio-San draws a sword and, after a tearful farewell to her son, commits harakiri.|
|Turandot||April 25, 1926 in Milan||3 Acts, 1:45 hours||Turmoil in Beijing. Crowds gather to witness an execution. The victim wasn’t able to solve the three difficult riddles required to gain the hand of the beautiful Princess Turandot’s hand. In the crowd are also Timur, the exiled Tartar King and his son, Calaf, who tries his luck and solves the puzzles. Turandot is now bound to marry him but refuses. Calaf makes a riddle of his own – if she can learn his name before dawn he will kill himself. The princess orders a “sleeping ban” in Beijing (“Nessun dorma”) and tortures the father and his slave Liu, who is in love with him, commits suicide to keep the secret and the princess fails to learn his name. Calaf then tells her his name voluntarily accepting his own death. This act leads to her falling in love with him and they marry.|
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