Milan was the place to be for artists and musicians at this time, and this is where a young Giacomo Puccini’s glorious career began.
In 1880, he received a grant to study at the prestigious Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi, where he was taught by major figures such as Antonio Bazzini and Amilcare Ponchielli.
During his first few years in Milan, Puccini composed his Preludio Sinfonico (1882), which was performed at one of the Conservatory’s concerts featuring work by students. In 1883, he presented his Capriccio Sinfonico, conducted by Franco Faccio, which he composed for his thesis.
At this time, Puccini encountered Milan’s bohemians, known as Scapigliatura. He became friends with the composer Pietro Mascagni and the poet Ferdinando Fontana, who wrote the libretto for his first opera “Le Villi”. The opera, which opened at Teatro Dal Verme in 1884, achieved great success, which led Puccini to sign a contract with the music publisher Casa Ricordi. This connection was to last his entire life.
The publisher Giulio Ricordi commissioned Puccini’s second opera, “Edgar”, directed by Faccio in April 1889 at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. This prestigious theatre had played host to the greatest Italian composers, including Rossini, Bellini and Verdi.
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