Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini came from a long line of musicians. His father was a choirmaster and organist and it was expected that Giacomo would follow in his footsteps. When his father died, he actually inherited his positions although he was only six years old! Before he could take them on as an adult, however, he went to hear a performance of Verdi’s Aida. From that moment on he knew that what he wanted to do was compose operas.
It took a while for Puccini to achieve this goal, but eventually his works became successful. He was eventually regarded as the successor to the great Verdi. In 1896 he wrote La Bohème, which is probably the most loved opera ever written. This was followed by several others, including Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot and The Girl of the Golden West.
Puccini’s genius lay in his ability to write beautiful melodies. He also was able to create operas that audiences responded to. His characters are very human and the stories in his operas are easy to follow.
Puccini was very successful financially as well as musically. When he died in 1924, he left over four million dollars!