"Ladies and gentlemen from all over the world, welcome to this brand new forum destined to all those opera lovers. It is my intention to create a cultural space to remember the great composers such as Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, as well as all the stars that walked through the most famous stages around the world like Caruso, Gigli, di Stefano, Pavarotti... I also intend this forum to be a debating space where readers can state their opinions, ideas, advises, likes and dislikes.

Through the last years opera has been losing popularity at the expense of more modern music, and though the heyday of the latter is a social and cultural worldwide phenomenon, it would be of great value to retrieve the transcendental meaning of opera in the history of man.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, may the world take its seat, let the curtain raise, come up to the stage with me and be the performers of this experience..."


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Anecdotes about Puccini

I thought it would be interesting to know some of Puccini's anecdotes and "backstage" stuff:

  • Puccini is fond of female voices, especialy the ones with high register. This is clearly exposed in his opera "Suor Angelica", an opera in which not a single male character appears.
  • The only aria for Bass in his entire production is Vecchia Zimarra from "La Bohème" sung by Colline. Puccini always considered this aria as part of his autobiographical youth. According to what the composer confessed, when he was a poor student in Milano, he had to pawn his own coat in orderto take out for dinner a young ballerina of the theatre, dispte the freezing cold of that day.
  • At the beginning of "Tosca", the bells of the churches of the town that toll with different notes at dawn can be heard from faraway. Such notes are specified by the composer in the score. As he said, for several days he went up the mount Pincio in order to take accurate notes of the bell's sounds at Rome at dawn. In first term, the big bell of San Pietro that gives a low E.
  • The manuscript of "La Bohème" score is full of all kind of indications, possible and impossible ones. For example, according to the original score, the chord for the god's decline in B minor announcing Mimì's death has seven p (ppppppp). When Ricordi saw this, he wrote horrified to Puccini: "This is a forest of p-pp-pppppp and f-ff-fff-ffff". Puccini answered: "If I have ever exagerated the pp and ff it is only because, according to Verdi, one has to write ppp if a real pianisimo is intended".
  • Puccini forgot to eliminate the name of Toscanini form the list before giving the order of sending the panetone for Christmass (this is a tradition among friends for Christmass in Italy) in times when they were in bad relations (1920 - 1922). When the composer noticed that the panetone had already been sent, he wrote to the director: "Panetone sent by mistake". The funniest thing is that Toscanini answered: "Panetone eaten by mistake".
  • It is said that Puccini needed a rival to compete with in order to work with the atmost concentration. In "Manon Lescaut" it was the case of Massenet's opera, in "La Bohème" with Leoncavallo, in "Tosca" the struggle for the rights on the libretto with Franchetti, and in "Turandot" his teacher Bazzini (he had an opera called "Turanda", based on the story by Gozzi).
  • When Puccini was finishing his "Manon Lescaut", he rented a house in Vacallo, Switzerland, in order to finish his opera in better conditions than in Milano. There he found neighbour that had hanged a cloth with the silouhete of a clown on the door, due to the fact that the owner was another musician that was working on an opera called "I Pagliacci". Puccini answered the welcome of his friend Leoncavallo by hanging a towell on the balcony on which he had drawn a huge hand (Manon in Tuscan dialect).
  • The première of "Madama Butterfly" was an unespected utter failure, but maybe not so much. Some days after this memorable première, a father went to the Civil Register's office to announce his daughter's birth and name her Butterfly, though there was no Saint with such name in the calendar. When Puccini heard of this, he offered himself to be the child's Godfather.

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