Giacomo Puccini

Born - Dec 22, 1858   |   Died - Nov 29, 1924   |   Genres - Music, Theater

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The exquisitely lyrical vocal melodies and rich impressionist orchestrations and harmonies of this late Romantic Italian composer are balanced by his "verismo" sense of life's realities creating an operatic experience of compelling intensity. His music appears in approximately 130 feature-length productions. In Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), Lauretta's exquisite, gently rolling aria "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's one-act opera Gianni Schicchi (1918) is heard very much in the background as the villain John Geiger (played by Willem Dafoe) applies (real) leeches from a glass bottle to his chest. He says to them, "You take care of me and I'll take care of this ship." This very popular aria is also quoted at tender moments in Mystery Men (1999), A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998), G.I. Jane (1997), A Room With a View (1986), Escalier C (Staircase C, 1985), Les Bons débarras (1980) (aka Good Riddance), and Der Tod der Maria Malibran (The Death of Maria Malibran, 1971). In The Witches of Eastwick (1987), the passionate "Nessun Dorma" from the opera Turandot accompanies a comical movement fantasy as the demon (played by Jack Nicholson) frolics with three women (Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer) among a mass of pink balloons filling the splendid marble entranceway of his country mansion. They glide in different combinations on tables with rollers, as the music is projected from a boom box. The Puccini score segues seamlessly into original orchestral music by John Williams as the three women float above an exotic swimming pool in a nearby room. This wonderful aria and other excerpts from Turandot are also heard in No One Sleeps (2000), The Turandot Project (2000), the television production Turandot -- At the Forbidden City of Beijing (1999), Visions of Italy, Northern Style (TV, 1998), Love Etc. (1996), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), Aria (1987), Castaway (1987), The Killing Fields (1984), and Serenade (1956). The complete opera received two television productions in 1983 and 1987.

Another popular Puccini aria is "Un bel di vedremo" (usually simply referred to as "Un bel di...") from the richly romantic and dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. This aria appears in the thriller Second Skin (2000), Das Geschriebene Gesicht (The Written Face, 1995), Heavenly Creatures (1994), Household Saints (1993), Hsi yen (The Wedding Banquet, 1993), Jennifer Eight (1992), Peter's Friends (1992), Il Maestro (1989), Opera (1987) (aka Terror at the Opera), Fatal Attraction (1987), the charming English gay romance and drama of cultural clashes My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), the thriller Hopscotch (1980), My Geisha (1962), Mitchell Leisen's Tonight We Sing (1953), I'll Take Romance (1937) (uncredited), and One Night of Love (1934). The complete opera received a film and TV production in 1995, TV productions in 1986, 1982, and 1974, and a film version in 1955. Puccini's Tosca was first realized in film in 1922, and has since had many film and television productions (2001, 1990, 1985, 1984, 1982, 1978, 1976, 1956, 1941). An interesting and musically excellent Italian television production by Brian Large placed Tosca: In the Settings and at the Times of Tosca (1992). The well-known aria "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca occurred in Nostradamus (2000) and The Man Who Cried (2000). Puccini's La Bohéme and Manon Lescaut have likewise received many varied productions. Aspects of the composer's life have been covered in the 1984's Puccini (TV) and the 1952 film Puccini (aka Two Loves Have I).