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Understanding Italian Opera$
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Tim Carter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190247942.001.0001

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Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica, and Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème (Turin, 1896)

Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica, and Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème (Turin, 1896)

Chapter 6 Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica, and Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème (Turin, 1896)
Understanding Italian Opera

Tim Carter

Oxford University Press

With the premiere of his La Bohème in Turin on 1 February 1896, Giacomo Puccini cemented his position as the leading Italian opera composer of the late nineteenth century. The publisher Giulio Ricordi kept a tight rein on his protégé, also enlisting two librettists—Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica—who then continued to work with the composer. Ricordi’s strategy further involved tackling his own chief competitor, Edoardo Sonzogno, for whom Ruggero Leoncavallo was also working on a La Bohème at the time. La Bohème drew on short stories (1845–49) by the French author Henri Murger that explored the pleasures and pains of bohemian life in the Latin Quarter in Paris. While the content is titillating, it plays into a vein of bourgeois sentimentality that set the opera apart from the contemporary Verismo school and contributed to Puccini’s international success as a counter to the increasing influence of Wagner.

Keywords:   Giacosa, Illica, Leoncavallo, Murger, Paris, Puccini, Ricordi, Sonzogno, Turin, Verismo

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