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Specht, Richard, 1870-1932. Giacomo Puccini; the man, his life, his
1933.

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re^f! L: 3?iil GIACOMO PUCCINI A youthful portrait .p \^j^ l ^ *JY J.

GIACOMO PMMSINI THE MAN HIS LIFE HIS W(Mfc BY : RICHARD SPECHT TRANSLATED BY CATHERINE ALISON PHILLIPS WITH SIXTEEN PAGES OF ILLUSTRATIONS 1933 NEW YORK ALFRED A. KNOPF .

fcf. Ciacomo Puccini by Richard Spfcht llcsstr First published in Berlin by Tbis English translation first published Max 1 933 t . Inc. M. Letchwortb for Alfred A./4/J rig&te reserved Printed in Great Britain ky J. Knopf. D*nf 6- Sow /.' * ' r * * .

AND FRIEND THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY AND ADMIRINGLY DEDICATED .TO ALMA MAHLER INCOMPARABLE AS BOTH WOMAN.

have power to charm us. .6 Small things. Italian Song Book. 5 HUGO WOLF. too.

for their kind permission to quote the English libretti. of which they hold the copyright. and for leave to reproduce a facsimile of the MS. published by them.TRANSLATOR'S NOTE THE translator wishes to acknowledge the kind assistance of Miss Agnes Bedford and her great indebtedness to Mr. G. for their courtesy in allowing her access to the vocal and other scores published by them. Ricordi and Co. Vll . Messrs. score of La Boh&me from Arnaldo Fraccaroli's Vita di Giacomo Puccini. She also desires to thank Eric Blom for his generous help.

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'and the only music that of small things 'I love I small things/ can or will make full . too. he knew his own is powers and their limitations to a nicety. ness. or some equivalent expression.. an act of atonement and expiation. At last. a merely theatrical composer striving after nothing but effective and the incarnation of modern degeneracy and insincerity. Puccini never regarded himself as a composer on the grand scale. and. though these are so often to be found in his music. and is. I must confess that for a long time I. For own part. the very negation of an the Germany not only he has been repre artist. so long as they are true and of passion and humanity.. e dfutschen Landeri).. as such. however. liberty of substituting c non-Latin'. thought and spoke of him in exactly the same way.INTRODUCTORY NOTE THIS book represents an admission of error on the part of its author. either sented as the great corruptor. and more especially in Germany of years that are gone. and all the contradictions and misunderstandings with which especially his it is in variably accompanied. and touch the heart/ in his Yet often. the translator has taken the ^TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. for it seemed to me theatricality of his impossible to reconcile the shameless libretti with artistic probity and purity. in countries of other than Latin l culture. he said repeatedly. to my shame be it spoken. For more than twenty years past my mind has been at work upon the problem presented by Giacomo Puccini. even own country. ix . for 'German'. it became evident to me that the cause of this strange The original text has lands of German culture' (in In this passage and a few similar ones. 'in which the author's remarks about the German public are also applicable to that of other countries in both northern Europe and North America.

could accept even such libretti this. lack of focus in our views with regard to the work was an error of vision. that prompted the author to determine exactly that. remained throughout his whole life no more than a great child. temperament. in to this cause that so consequence. poignant. and often distorted conception that we had formed of his essential qualities as an artist. even at the the factors going to make up this artistic though they may appear mutually destructive. thoroughly naive and candid. as appealing directly to both the soul and the He was a thorough Italian. all The task of finding a common or. pages would have been an impossibility: the fact. that is. crudest theatricality and a revolting sensationalism appealing to To a native of southern Europe all these things are never more than mere make-believe. I In addition to the criticisms that am sure to incur on the . that Puccini. who regard many things Italian The the lowest instincts. and. who. had modified his attitude towards the problem of Puccini and his estimate of that composer. what we are about to demonstrate in the following as those of Tosca and The Girl of the Golden West as humanly and convincingly true. denominator for unity. for all his apparent subtlety. Nor disguise the fact that mingling with these reasons was a certain curiosity.x INTRODUCTORY NOTE due to a racial difference. attracted drawing a portrait of Puccini as an me quite as artist. least. was therefore responsible for the imperfect. elementally If it were not for emotional and almost exhibitionist order. nay more. and it is precisely many of the contradictory elements in his nature may be attributed. the pretext for an outpouring of music of a passionate. composer and his which approaches the scenic element in an opera from a point of view totally different from that of the non-Latin in Puccini's work as the peoples. very much need as that of I highly contradictory. in the what were the reasons course of the last ten years.

Among the many people make their all who have kindly lent first me of assistance in the preparation of this book I have children: gratitude to the Master's to express my Donna Fosca Leonardi-Puccini. which no tion I am writer born and working in Vienna can hope to escape * further prepared for the accusation of lack of character and of denying this former principles. nor do I believe that character to recognize one's error. due to what I may call the musical and symphonic construction of the present work. who has who has helped me by 1 access to the original drafts of courtesy in kindly granting me the scores. and attractiveness of form. I believe it to be a better proof of bore one's readers. together with 'his private collection amount of trouble that himself to an caricatures. newspaper cuttings. On the contrary. frivolous But I cannot believe that strive it is it is necessarily and superficial to for liveliness. in addition to the Universal Publishing Company of Vienna and its director Emil Hertzka. . but only a judgment that has my become untenable. and for procuring me pub recently resident in Florence. and shown the greatest possible Signor Antonio Puccini. reparation for it. Pagin. as well as to letters. to whom I am inin Italy. and. informing me of a number of personal traits and episodes in the life of Puccini. manuscripts. and and I put cannot sufficiently acknowledge in assisting me to obtain I have also to thank my father-in-law Ferdinand illustrations. lished material on the subject of Puccini that is obtainable only And. so far as possible. and on account of the unscientific character of the exposi not to speak of the accusation of journalism'. or that better to be so dignified as to it is a sign of character to persist pig-headedly in a view that one has recognized to be false. though what I am abjuring in book is not a principle. colour. till of photographs notes.INTRODUCTORY NOTE xi score of certain quite intentional repetitions.

object if it succeeds in communicating only a part of this pleasure to its readers. which Clausetti published the Master's works. and also communicating publications to which it was difficult for me to have access* They have all had a share in the production of a book the writing It will have achieved its of which has given me great pleasure. Last. Summer 1931. giving me permission to consult the manu to me script scores of these works. awakening a real affection for him. especially with regard the fatal illness that ended in his death.xii INTRODUCTORY NOTE La Rondine. but also for during me placing at my disposal the conductor's scores and piano scores of Puccini's operas. but not debted for the text and music of least. Carlo of Milan. S. born some times of admiration and sometimes of touched sympathy for his human qualities. and its director. Ricordi and Co. Puccini's intimate friend. in bringing the figure of Giacomo Puccini nearer to them. VIENNA.. I wish to thank the house of G. to whom I am indebted not only for communicating to personally a number of bio to Puccini's last days^ graphical details. . hjs work as an artist and the vicissitudes of and in his life. R.

. INTERMEZZO MILANESE VI.... AN EXCURSION INTO THE LAND OF ROMANCE (Le Pilli) . His APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER III.. XL UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN (The Girl of the Golden West) Tritticd) 192 XII.. ... DAYS OF DEPRESSION (Edgar) VII.. . . THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS (Tosco) 152 X.. IDYLLIC SCENES (Manon Lescauf) VIII.. 237 253 . DRIVEN FROM PARADISE (La Rondine and the . II..TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE TRANSLATOR'S NOTE vii INTRODUCTORY NOTE LIST OF I. ix WORKS CONSULTED THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE SUCCESS REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI.. A ROMANCE OF JAPAN (Madame 169 .62 71 86 121 MELODIA AMOROSA (La Bohtme) IX. Butterfly) .. . xiii i 10 28 IV. THE LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION . THE MASK OF SUFFERING INDEX . . 53 V. ..... .. 206 223 XIIL A DREAM OF THE EAST (Turandof) XIV... . .

. ..... . 48 65 . xvi 240 .1 12 THOUGHT \ U2 129 A PAGE OF la Bohtme (Act III) PUCCINI 144 144 . frontispiece facing page 33 33 .. GIUSEPPE GIACOSA 65 THE VILLA AT VIAREGGIO THE VILLA AT TORRE DEL LAGO PUCCINI IN HIS MOTOR-BOAT Bo . THE LAST PORTRAIT PART OF A PAGE FROM THE ROUGH DRAFT OF { 176 Schiccbi ' . * 80 ...XI) LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS GIACOMO PUCCINI A YOUTHFUL PORTRAIT ELVIRA PUCCINI.. . PART OF A PAGE FROM THE ROUGH DRAFT OF Gianni 193 Turanctot 208 208 A PASSAGE FROM THE FIRST VERSION OF THE LIBRETTO OF fosca 7 Crisantimi THEME FROM 208 225 PUCCINI'S LAST LETTER PUCCINI ON HIS DEATH-BED 240 THE DEAD MAN is BROUGHT HOME THE MORTTTA-RV CHAPEL . 97 * THE COMPOSER AT TORRE DEL LAGO LOST IN n . HIS DAUGHTER FIRST PAGE OF THE Capriccio sinfonico LUIGI ILLICA . .. ... .. ... THE COMPOSER'S WIFE FOSCA LEONARDI-PUCCINI.. . TOSCANINI PUCCINI WITH THE LIBRETTISTS OF Turandot 161 CARICATURE OF CARUSO BY PUCCINI 161 / ....... 248 . 97 PUCCINI AT HIS STUDY WINDOW .

1922). his letters.LIST OF APART from a number mouth. and Giacomo Puccini intimo. Florence. Vienna. Ein neuer and Hartmann. does not permit R. Mondadori. WORKS CONSULTED personally communicated to me by word of have been Puccini's works and their libretti. Published exotischer Musikstil (Verlag Carl Griininger. which space me to enumerate. 1931. OSCAR BIE. Berlin. Giacomo T "L Puccini. Klett Stuttgart). next to these. VITTORIO GUI. Giacomo Puccini (Drei Masken-Verlag. Die romanische Oper der Gegenwart 1922). e la sua opera (Libreria editrice Mantegazza di ARNALDO BONAVENTURA. Die Oper (S. Milan. Xlll . Fischer. English translation by E. 1913). by the La Scala Opera-house on the occasion of the first performance of the work. with admirable introductions. by Giuseppe Adami (A. ' following: GINO MONALDL Giacomo Puccini Pietro Cremonese. and. Makin. S. by his friends Guido Marotti and Ferruccio Pagni (VaUecchi. ADOLF WEISSMANN. published under the title of Epistolario. (Rikola-Verlag. Giacomo Puccini^ article in // Pianoforte. Also a large number of articles in Italian and foreign periodicals. lurandot. UuomoPartista (Raffaello Giusti \ Leghorn). 1928). Rome). JULIUS KORNGOLD. I have also made use of the of details my chief sources 1926). GEORG CAPELLEN.

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It produces its effects not by any irresistible unity between words and music. nor whelming force. a creator of delicate musical miniatures. and utter trash the And for this reason. when others attempt it. moreover. >such as one may make bold to characterize as 'trash' though some have been found to do even that. melodies of a passionate melancholy.CHAPTER I THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE SUCCESS THERE are is no success without a good reason. ends in blank failure. however. are certainly not for the masses: it uses a dramatic musical method by which masses of colour and high lights are of Leitmotive. of It a robust dramatic sense. or any unambiguous characteriza tion of the characters and their setting for. many passages . and orchestration with a subtle and unerring magic. there (absoluter Schund]\ the cause of such music as falls under these is no need to plead categories.touched in against a groundwork by a kaleidoscopic treatment of melody and a power of spon taneous thematic and melodic development. but rather of that composed by 'good masters' of the second rank. with a suggestion of improvisation which. possessed. though Puccini's work has advanced on it is its career with such over neither that of a really great master. subtle har monies with an individual distinction. which. in effect. he maintained. who are otherwise pushed aside. Yet. enhanced subtly. granted the neces in La Boheme sary changes in the words. if As Richard words: * Strauss once said not in so their two kinds of work creations that make There many whatever happens: way of the very greatest masters. has qualities of quite a special order. It is the work of a minor master of the first rank.

rather tively though it than an integral part of the picture. indeed. drawn from the depths of the national character. as it were. cumstance that musicians of serious standing have a respect for his essential him. or La Rondine (The and by no means the worst of them. his wayward. though constantly reinforced by But this judgment is neutralized by the cir inspired melody.GIACOMO PUCCINI * (Bohemian Life). qualities. // Talarro (The Cloak). as it were. to those who find satisfaction in the sensationalism of the film. his subtle touch. work of a sense of exaltation. But not only do they esteem him. so small is the extent to which this music is differentiated by any variety in the action or characters. for illustrative it is. merely provides another stimulus at times. None but Manon Lescaut. Madama Butterfly^ and the masterly Turandot are pervaded by something of the colour of their period and country. the poignantly sweet fragrance of his amorous cantilena^ with its rush of - soaring ardour. illustrative. the shocker'. and the popular melo for whom his music drama. declamatory quality of which both Wagner and Strauss possessed the secret. plastic. yet distinguished tone-colour. peculiarly noble poetic quality that characterizes the true ment and release to the spirit and bringing ravish-* sending the hearer away with art. Seduc insinuates itself into the soul with its almost Puccini's poignant sweetness and sensuousness. they also imitate him. either might' Swallow)' easily be interchanged with one another and would suit the different dramatic situation equally well. or in the destinies of the latter. To$ca> La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West). His subject-matter has neither the legendary power. and even in these it is. or equally badly. Talents . melody has neither the mighty impact and plenitude of Verdi's music nor that clear. an over-stimulus not due to any con' structive or well-articulated quality. that makes it possible to represent on the stage things transcending ordinary life. and its power to sting the nerves. merely and exclamatory. Hence it is comprehensible that some should have been of the opinion that he appeals solely to the evil instincts of the masses. nor the lofty. its subtle cruelty. insinuating.

People. and even serious people. for his music is effect? equally triumphant in the concert-hall. So. they always do so with a touch of embarrassment. such as Max von Schillings. irresistible. make the We attempt. Though he produces his effects less a by crudities of the most brutal sort. so that. masters of comedy a delicate constructive faculty as Ermanno possessing such Wolf-Ferrari abjured Rossini to become his disciples.THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE SUCCESS which from the first 3 displayed such power as that of Eugen d'Albert fell entirely under his influence. concerned. comes resisting his seductive poison. but in which he proves the fastidiousness of his taste. but they do not profess allegiance to him. and even musicians and artists of high seriousness. Or is it due to the level of Not exclusively so. for it surpasses them all. may. what they value in him is the subtle. Perhaps we may succeed in discovering the factors that determine the curve of this universal success. they have to add a saving clause to the effect that. we may ask. an . unique success. are fond of Puccini. he is an artist. world-wide. certainly. apart from his artful faculty of nervous titillation. though it has achieved success. to which no other is comparable. at any rate. 'in spite of air. too. just as they may be ardent readers of Eugene Sue or Conan Doyle without quite liking to admit it. and distin guished talents of a rich and elemental fullness such as that of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. this is only a qualified one. strong as this infatuating music ? are the stimulants that are peculiarly its own. with aspirations quite out of the ordinary. even that of Johann years Strauss. he is none the highly subtle. have not succeeded in entirely Whence. as they do to Wagner or Mahler or Richard Strauss. strange savour of where Puccini is those accessory elements which are not essential to his main purpose. When men of merit confess their liking for his music. a fact and has lasted unimpaired for close upon forty which is conclusive? Is it the strongly 'theatrical' element in Puccini's operas that produces such an overwhelming It is certainly not that alone. his prodigious. In the first place. cultured type with over-sensitive nerves.

secret of his unexampled effectiveness. This is poster art of the most blatant description. that the touch of the plebeian in us has the irresistible gratifica tion of drawn into the circle feeling itself transformed by being of what is distinguished and exclusive. it has about with the result nothing ostentatiously inviting it.>Y et justifies by the subtle eroticism of his music. our personal impression scious of it is that he himself is absolutely unc m thoroughly sincere and convinced lat transmuting into music are the simple hui A an emotions. even in such passages as those which give expression to tortures worthy of Red Indians jjjis are the frenzy of weakness goaded to exasperation. of an over-subtle brain. melody of a positively sadic voluptuousness nor is he at all robust in his music. while at the same . of ex quisite music. the perfumed atmosphere of his harmonization. approach. while at the same time caressing the revol' ganglia with every sort of anaesthetic. the almost unbearably excising effect of his insistent motives. the crudity of a perverted sensibi He assaults the nerves by jets of music charged with vio j excitement. At times he stirs up the plebeian element in us. There is never anything coarse. mobile^ which produce a sort ofperpc/'xvm and the strange. It is like some booth at a with Verlaine or Arthur Schnitzler as salesman impossible combination of an acting but in this very fact lies the qualities. so hat even amid his extremest refinements of exasperated excitat on. so to speak. the result being to duce a sinfully voluptuous sense of gratification. with which he deals like the aristocrat that he really is at heart. Moreo *' ] T. Hence his world wide fame. He flatters all our bad instincts. He offers us all. but always a noble and fastidious delicacy. yet. and often fair with genuine heart's blood. he still remains artistically in a state of grace. the brut.4 epicure in GIACOMO PUCCINI . the quintessence. sophisticated charm of his orcheSfcral colour. easy of approach though his melody may be. but with the most delicate water-colour painted technique. He is what he is 1 film drama it in its frankest and most uncompromising form. not the artful effects of the Grand Guignol. or offensively banal in his vulgar.

Spanish flies. a quivering grace. In a word: stramonium. and derives from this state a sublime ecstasy of overevidently But at the same time he calms the uneasiness of excitement. in spite of everything. though he often composes music that is inartistic. his ideas are full of an inimitable elegance. a sense of But. he sets their minds ineluctable. for not allow them to feel this pleasing. after all. there is CCESS ! This is his no escaping. and presents what is hideous under the most charming guise. unfora bitter-sweet. suggesting as they do a blend of heliotrope.THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE. and a sure feeling for jartistic tact and taste. time appeasing our conscience. for amid his most enchanting blooms of melody there lurks a nameless dread. ineffable pain. expressing the shrieks of the tortured creature with a crude power that never fails to turn the cruel curiosity of the sensation'loving public into genuine pity. not only in his orchestration. besides which they have. which finds its true atmosphere in the mingled reeking blood and incense. our perverted craving for the torturing a ous. soothes their conscience by himself remaining refined and exempt from banality. and own peculiar. because. been taught But he that such subjects are highly crude and inartistic. at rest. which colours even the smallest phrase with his personality. cannibalistic impulses of hufnan nature. and he goads and hammers our jaded nerves like a musical Scarpia and Cavaradossi is is at once the torturer and the tortured. He his listeners. He satisfies our need for excitement. though this may often seem to have become a mannerism. yet th^r snobbery tormenting excitation to be quite legitimate. that is all his own. . one. but also in pure tone and harmony. our longing for primitive and what upon in directly comprehensible. and though its ingredients may not be altogether unobjectionable. after all. whose most will secret desires he thus gratifies. gently irritating aroma further. for he is as lavish of music as of blood. an artist in music and a master of it. and vitriol. holy water. he wins favour because he is. above all. since it is not seemly to give way to the primitive. because he has his [gettable note.

One thing seems certain: that for his own part. and unbridled theatricality with ?. nerve-torture.iACOMO PUCCINI . and sympathize with them to such a point as himself to feel an almost physical and unendurable pain that the suffer ings of the characters in his dramas produced a shudder of per verted emotion in himself as well. as is evident in certain La Rondine. he had to rouse himself to a fearful. is the following: 'this contradictory juxtaposition of eroticism. ss lism. to answer. and the senses with such persuasive insistence. less irre- then.. that even such a great. and injecting into the soul. it is by no means . but is aj It is) cruelly subtle nuance of voluptuous self-indulgence. and com pounded of the most subtle poisons and burning love-philtres. abominable. pitying horror at the sufferings of the figures he had created. for ever penetrates crying out as in a voice choked with hot tears. simple^ strange. emotion has nothing barbaric about it. but it is none the not attempt to deny it. On the other hand. which may well astonish us. the opiate that lulls and yet inflames. at home in the Tuscan country-side and with the all those type of humanity to be found there things among which he constantly sought a refuge from town life. as pointing to yet another contradiction in his healthy. and indeed puzzling. Puccini had to lash himself into a state of excitement through scenes of torment before he could become productive. luxurious cities dw ellers r in great. and remained throughout his whole life. msic that is .* should seem to have required a sadic stimulus to set his nerves this - vibrating and enable him to arrive at that note of sensuous^ exaltation and passionate sadness that is peculiarly his own. that if he was to bring his most primitive and essential qualities to the surface. It is equally indubitable that he fails when he has to dispense with the stimulus of such a subject. which have triumphed over the whole world. ife. persuasive. But in the over-cultivated. thoroughly Italian nature. spiritually anaemic. again. fetion we have ^mentality. penetratingly melodious. with a subtle stab. is the cause of the unprecedented effect of these operas. child as Puccini was.

and nothing but a questionable after-taste not the quivering remains to remind us of all that is painful after-vibrations set up by a destiny into whose experiences we have ourselves been projected. aroused an even purer and more intimate emotion. hysterically sweet melodies. and poignant in his music than upon those explosive attacks which may carry one away with far greater all more upon that vehemence and power at the subsides with equal rapidity. moment. it is craving of the masses for excitement. which has gone on is. but at most a few bars of one of those wildly convulsive. human and akin to ourselves. heart-stirring. would perhaps have won an even more heartfelt affection. lovable figures. on the part of both composer and public. it is clear that his Strongly than any of them. rests far in is many ways. . had this dash of the melodramatic been absent his work. ^unchecked for decades past. there seems no question that Puccini's still growing (influence in all five continents of the globe.THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE SUCCESS 7 nerve-racking flagellatory It remains the fact that La Boheme y with its expedients. in supposing that Puccini and really required to resort to such and does not offend our taste any more than. extraction towards the horrible i Puccini's was not an indispensable element work. we are drawn towards the former supposition. still on the intimate. the troubadour element in Puccini. simple. However that may be. tenderly melan choly. the corresponding scene in La Traviata. and is likely to appeal to posterity more At any rate. and increase. for instance. though certainly hard to decide whether his world-wide reputation would have suffered or been en If we consider the eternal hanced had this not been so. whose most lasting and beautiful creations were in the form of feminine selfand long-suffering love. but whosfe effect usually Only a slight impression of them . in those feminine circles that were the predestined parti sacrifice sans of his music and the human characters he created. feverishly ardent. s thut we are not here faced with a double self-deception. but we incline toward the latter when we from consider that. lingers on the mind. still remains the favourite *among his works. in which 'Mimi's death has nothing repellent even to the most sensitive.

countries cannot be satisfied with an German-speaking operatic composer. and however and breathlessly exciting the dramatic action thrilling may be. they' linger on in the listener's) In view of all these considera who will be no easy matter make up our minds whether the dazzling. and. and together with the scenic element. pressing obvious. what is more. without any dangerous reactions. even if they are mere he cries out at the torture of puppets. a Tuscan. and in of helpless victims. or to the coarse-fibred quality of his * subjects. after which. and the gratification. to the spell cast by his personality as an artist and the elusive magic of his inspired. detaching themselves from the fate of the characters ensconce themselves in the memory and to mind with a tions. but seldom penetrate any further than the ear. if he confines It is himself solely to what eloquent in music. The Teuton round with the figures in a drama. has alw ays found the r pleasure in tortures. sing them.8 GIACOMO PUCCINI that capture the ear with such uncontrollable violence and to it so insinuatingly. music of small things'. without is forward into the regions of the mind. however delightful the music. from the beginning of its days. directly comprehensible. and raise the question whether all that we have said above is really true. of the blood-lust common to humanity. the stifled shrieks that he turns to song. writhings Possibly it to both. An Italian musician. Cavaradossi. it life of their own. secret same gloating is over the to be attributed But the time has come to respond to the demands of honesty. certainly true for the non-Latin peoples only. with their situations worthy of the film. sometimes with a childlike trustfulness and a shy hesitation . he feels suffers his own neck the rope that is to throttle the noble brigand . even one with the most powerful talent. deeply rooted in the rich soil of his home-land. whereas the former class of his melodies weave their ineluct able spells till they penetrate to the very soul. which. would feel the utmost strikingly attractive and astonishment if confronted with all these distinctions. triumphant progress of Puccini's operas is to bef attributed to their own rare qualities.

as a mere dramatic is only more furious and all. aicient days they have been addicted to the pleasures of the eve make-believe. the frightful tetter. whether veristic or fantastic. or flat. The to difference here a racial one. and importance the finish of the singer's performance. in fact. the points to which the Italians attach are brilliance of invention. and has be recognized. the pretext for music. bound up with is the whole this attitude of different countries towards the theatre. that I first learnt to take another. they murder for sport and threaten torture as a and do not feel these things to be realities. the comedy imply a sane unreal. is But above the story. I believe. My own but belief I Wagnerian gospel of only art. he shares poor Mimi's fever.THE SECRET OF A WORLD-WIDE SUCCESS relief at 9 Ramerrez. From and ear. and heaves a sigh of the murder of Scarpia. if if the the music is felt to singer has sung a note No Italian ever lost his appetite to in through seeing Tosca\ whereas Germany is it is striking observe how empty the buffet always is after the second act. and. and to form a juster estimate of him. But to Italians all this is mere pastime. a fairer . and the old traditions of of these as entirely recreation. too. there. and not even the most or the most convincing performance will save powerful plot either the composer or the singers from being hissed be hackneyed or lacking in beauty. as view of the phenomenon of Puccini. the action. enthralling melody. a heightening of vital enjoyment by what conception fiction. It was Italy that I first learnt to modify opera. my and exaggeratedly to revise It German attitude towards modern to many was ideas that I had supposed be firmly established. through the no longer believe it to be the in salvation in way of salvation.

La va verso vita corre. Richard Strauss was absent. Giacomo Puccini. e resta Passano ben poca cosa. who had arrived for the first performance of his Trittico (Triptych). IT was about the beginning of the twenties. and with a pleasant smile on his fastidious mouth. l . They pass away. dark eyes. . however. il baratro. He was now resting in an arm-chair.CHAPTER REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI. in 1921 or 1923 I cannot recall which in the resplendently illuminated haF of one of the great hotels on the Ringstrasse. II HIS APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER Oh com' e dura ! la vita mia eppur a molti sembro felice. . often drawn into an expression of melancholy 1 Ah! How ? ^ hard is my life! And yet to many I seem happy. 10 my are ephemeral . consisting of // Tabam^ to the also in SHOT Angelica (Sister Angelica). Vienna. and intellectual Vienna was present to a man.) They had all come to do honour A Maestro. . especially all which that city contains in the way of musicians and singers. a little wearyy with a happy sparkle in his fine. and had view a performance of his Tosca^ with Maria Jeritza in the title role. Ma i miei success! ? . They Life slips away and descends swiftly towards the abyss. and there remains but little. Son cose effimere: . GIACOMO PUCCINI (1923). brilliant gathering had assembled. (With one exception. veiled from time to time by their heavy lids. and Gianni Schicchi. But successes things.

proof. but suggested the suspicion that. was to snatch him. like so many of his fellow-musicians. noble countenance. shake hands with him. he bit his nails during moments of nervous impatience or tormenting doubt while meditating over his com a surmise in which I was correct. ringing baritone. however. have belonged to an artist. thoroughly manly hand. but. was not altogether irreproach able. though it was unquestionably that bf a man of breeding. with its long. may be observed in passing that his sijispecting fibely shaped. together with the characteristic timbre of the voice. only occasionally ment admits of no Clouded by a distressing languor. position Any one desires to call up the image of a striking personality at who some subsequent time knows that such a handclasp. musical ftngers. than Such a state fullest accounts of him derived from hearsay. with an active brain. from his equally unIt friends. for him. Even during an animated conversation. within so terribly short a tiime.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI irony. observing from its slightly veiled tones that on good days it was a voce bruna (deep voice). its full. too. th is occasion I. or his next opera. healthy ring was damped by a huskiness fore- shiadowing the insidious disease that. all critical analysis or the Uj'pon the secret of his work. though capable on occasion ojf a harsh abruptness. a cheerful. or carry away a few words from him on some such subject as.nd in mine and listen to his cordial voice. throw more light bfeing. easily kindled . I felt the indisputable truth of it as I listened to Puccini's voice and was Able to look into his frank. bring one closer to the magic of the living without any rational explanation. though very well kept. not for the first time. to rise from his comfortable everybody there desired to be presented to seat. The Master had constantly. 11 and scarcely concealed by the soft. was permitted to hold his slender. and. his musical On impressions of Vienna.. to speak a word of gratitude and affection. however. all unaware. however irrelevant the words uttered by it. full moustache. witty the vigorous chin and the thick brown hair slightly (bold brow round which clustered It was a face that need not necessarily touched with grey. powerful ha'.

(Cutlet with potatoes).) was the only dish on the menu that Puccini could understand! during his first visit to Vienna. GIACOMO PUCCINI and an eager receptivity. who was* TRANSLATOR'S Nois. sport. his He repugnance for all stiff formality. in whom primitive. have been due to his limitations as a linguist. though may. after was correspondingly polite in acknowledging which he would continue the conversation with heightened animation. from such a severe critic. even more defective. full of strong vitality. When Puccini had to hu&t long. in his native Italian of Tuscany. he always felt it disturbing and irksome Puccini talked in the moist animated and interesting way on every conceivable subject. and. next to a primitive existence amid the solitudes pf nature. whenever possible. perhaps by very reason of the contrast. for a word too he had a irritably. an instinctive repugnance for all that is vulgar. popular elements were combined with a subtle culture. so that he lived on cutlets with potato all the time! 1 relates that this . after the tumultuous had been received. too. and arrfid cordiality with which his new work a throng of radiant women and a crush of fashionable enthusiasm which. He expressed his extreme grati-r fication at the performance of his Trittico and the reception witH which it had met which. was what appealed most to the Maestro. and a man an unconstrained naiveti with the acquired exterior -of of the world and a dash of eternal youthfulness that made I an enchanting mixture. quite comprehensible to those who knew his love of the open air and his passion for imagined. at of his own worth. Fraccaroli (Vita di G. yet often as though with a slight constraint. P. at the same time.14 sensibilities. and his English if such a thing can be spoke courteously and with extreme animation.Kotelette mit Kartoffeln. for his store of German did not go fdlr beyond such was. On the occasion to which have referred. too. it and his robujSt delight in strong language. for the most part in French. way of snapping his fingers with a comical gesture as though he were trying to catch a fly. though. He any assistance. once shy and conscious sensuous curiosity. if phrases 1 as Auf Wiedenehen! Guten Tag^ and Kotelette mit Kartoffeln anything. a man.

for they were possibly repeated in an On that evening. for on a subsequent occasion the irritable composer managed to find fault for fwith her sacrificing dramatic expression to over-correct a matter of fact Puccini was a As ^singing. REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI must certainly have 13 scarcely ever satisfied. meant something. yet even here he could not entirely silence the ever-vigilant voice of his rigorous artistic conscience. in // Tabarro> but most of all as Tosca. he had the same objection to make to this Tosca as Hans Sachs makes to Walther: that is. who had been magnificent. who knew about as much confessed Italian as Puccini did German. and his exaggerated demands and unmitigated candour ^often made the rehearsals an ordeal dreaded by everybody. uncompromising expression of his were subjectively justi was rather ungracious and hypercritical. after rather a deplorable it must how. bowed with a flattered expression fter every word. He may often have had cause to regret such remarks as I have quoted. performance of &Tpsca. The good man. quite unaware that the Maestro. In spite of all he found to which was never quite appeased. in her prayerscene in particular. in spite of the fact that they fied. for he excused to felt that his have himself with a laugh for his insuperable tendency to speak his which had sometimes led to the most comical situations. He spoke enthusiastically of Madame Jeritza. Die Meistirfinger. frei'. seemed objections. he had had to shake hands with the conductor for the sake of form. 1 and that. she had at times sacrificed pure singing to j her dramatic rendering though this was unjust. he related i with more complacence than regret. i: nur mit der Melodei sfcd ihr ein wenig . .*UU A . smiling was accompanying each handshake with the words: Rogue! Beast! Bandit! Murderer! Executioner! Cur!' and x 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. i^and not always a very amiable judge of his conductors and ^singers. and had little need to fear a rival. he exaggerated and distorted form. that she was 'a little free with the melody'. indeed. sc. he said. Act iii. praise in her performance. when he let them fall outside the theatre and his own particular sphere of work. peculiarly inexorable.

in h day unaffected fashion. this incident had not taken place in Vienna. from a supposition. and. though this was cast in new and personal mould. if only he could be given the same opportunities for rehearsal an in that the it credible piece of self-sufficiency. man lies precisely But we can well imagine the sufferings of a composer with such over-acute sensibilities as Puccini. always freely acknowledged. about Stravinsky and who. as 1 Debussy. which quite ignored the fact power of a great personality. it became almost a certainty that the hero of the incident was the same doughty wielder of the baton who had once. he felt a lively curiosity with regard to presen musicians. so that. as capacities woocjen as a second-rate bandmaster. his work was handed over to the elementary musical and unholy stupidity of such a conductor. the mis chievous musician merely responded with a delightfully sly and knowing wink. whereas the impotence of the smaller in the fact that he is unable to obtain them. eaten up with his own importance and utterly incapable of any of the subtler and more exquisite shades of interpretation.i 4 GIACOMO PUCCINI dismissed him with the winning assurance that If oniy were in Italy. who had exactly calculated and weighed when every accent. had exerted a decisive influence his c own harmonic and melodic style. assured me that he would be capable of achievements at least equal to those of Toscanini. on another occasion. \ On that same evening it was plainly evident to every 01 not already aware of Puccini's keen interest in the compositioi of the day that. the value of every note and every nuance of timbre. in all seriousness. given me his word of honour that he was a first-class conductor. I would havfe you shot in place of Cavaradossi ' ! * finally we Yet on the following day the worthy conductor could not stop talking about the enthusiastic eulogies showered upon him by the whether When an indiscreet inquirer asked delighted Master. are shown precisely by insisting upon these oppor tunities. He took the most vigilant intere la t . for all his unbounded admiration of Beethove n and Wagner. and the qualities that make what it is. He spoke with a natural shrewdness.

and rather indifferent to ! fame. and the amorous sweetness of their seductively worldly and somewhat luscious melody was almost touchingly apparent when the two most successful composers of our day for the theatre were together. for he could never have come to Vienna at any but an inauspicious moment where Schonberg was concerned and this is still true Among the musicians of the rising generation young to-day. he could hear something by this composer. Those who saw Puccini on that evening.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI in this 15 both of them. in spite of the different intellectual planes on which the two artists existed. carried away an impression of a highly luxurious dweller in great cities. ' undeniable affinity between their natures. expressed in the melan choly. like two sovereigns doing the honours to each other with modest dignity. and asked to be informed where. he somewhat testily expressed his regret at having visited Vienna at such an inauspicious time. himself more thoroughly with Arnold Schonberg's work. at a time when death had already sealed him as its own. in spite of his passion and the fact that he simply could not bear to live fcj>r sport hife own . Even when young he had never had the sun-clear. sensuous aroma of their music. whether at the marvels of" life or at those of nature. which would tend to confirm the authenticity of the remark that he is reported to have made after a performance of Korngold's Die tote Stadt\ 'The fellow has so much talent that he could safely give some of it to the others and still have enough left for him while the positively affectionate regard that Puccini felt for Franz Lehdr which. during his visit to Vienna. but in this he was mistaken. though not in the least blas6. inordinately spoilt by? the ladies. may have been based upon an self . traditions of the day. who had provoked * so much controversy by his abrupt departure from the musical receiving the answer. though He was most anxious to acquaint feeling was mutual. Erich Korngold seemed to him the most attractive figure. and had long thie si nee lost the power of being astonished. seeing eye for these. who associated on same easy footing with kings and peasants. somewhat capricious. On Nowhere '. but not so much in Richard Strauss.

and Yet this impression. as childish as it is cunning. he smoked like la panions. even when he had notes. a certain This superior attitude was hardly to be acquired by danger. Here he took part in every pran k. La Scheme. for he ' chimney. Tosca. he was the best and most care-free of coi n- had escaped from the great Puccini'. among t he uncultured residents of Torre del Lago and Viareggio. He loved to mix with his friends and Trtrith simple men in an atmosphere of unpretentious jollity. is none the less deceptive. ticular when he had to appear at a banquet. yet who of superiority in his struggle possess a certain has also to maintain an attitude to with the preposterous material conditions of the theatre. shy to the core and essentially helpless as he was. he always felt constrained and ill at ease among the and even in artistic circles in the town. the intrigues of the green-room and the rivalries of the theatrical world. For that occasion was not such traits as to reveal the fundamental of Puccini's nature. the part that he had to play outside in the world though. associating with peasants and shepherds. but only the product of the conditions inevitably surrounding a muchffited operatic composer. his annoyance and jotted down with the utmost brevity desjpair knew no bounds. was never fond of society. . or even with jolly painters and prudent revenue officers. his t #0 beloved retreats.16 GIACOMO PUCCINI that anywhere but in the country. In par bourgeoisie. Butterfly as being otherwise. nor did these spare even his own person. as a matt er of fact. he did not do so. Here. moreover. indulged in strong language to his heart's conten jt. and' n such company he could feel quite at his ease. and especially when he had to make an after-dinner speech which he found the greatest difficulty in stammering out. who is expected to be familiar with the usages and manners of society and intellectual aristocracy. yet in spite of this. Any one seeing him on evening could not but say to himself that he could hardly have imagined the creator of Manon Lescaut. though just. whose conspiracies with the press have. throughout the whole of the Master's life it was such society as this that he always He preferred and found most congenial.

One might almost have thought that he went to bed in his favourite felt hat. 'I feel as if you were Where listening to me. and if by chance they suddenly became in a creative mood. here. on the contrary. or fishing or making excursions in his motor- been the ruin of him. thanks to his fraternal simplicity insuperable melancholy and the artist's life that isolated him. and those engaged in it would once more disappear amid heavy clouds of tobacco. a curious habit hair. and 17 felt Yet amid all this quite at home. 'otherwise. drink. and that makes me ill upon the squabble over politics or a game of cards that had got into a muddle would be resumed. and play cards. and while working at the piano or his writing-table. Life in the great artistic centres would have intimates. his he was entirely himself. and only here that he could create. without bothering about him. . should appear at his house every evening. there to smoke. and fell into an awed some chord struck by the Master on the hanging upon little cottage piano. ' 1 aware that he was had. whose dented form is now gradually fading into oblivion: I feel sure that bi|it during those hours when he was committing tol paper the heart-rending orchestral epilogue to La Bohtme or th|e actt ominous strains that accompany the execution in the third of Tosca 9 he bared his head. and ask them to go on arguing and talking. but it was only here that he could breathe. Curiously enough these hours were his favourite time for work. suitable inaction. when the lack of a boat. libretto condemned him to enforced a 'La He Bohme and despairing he formed into insisted that his friends. a monomania.' he would say. and easy jollity he was alone. moreover. even in the house. Club' at Torre del Lago whom and a 'Gianni Schicchi Club' at Viareggio. he would fly into a rage. He did not feel the it presence of his friends in the least disturbing. hurl some vigorous epithet at them.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI helped the needy. Puccini silence. was a stimulus to him. : in spite of his unusually thick he almost always kept his hat on. either shooting among a sport for which he had what almost amounted to water-fowl. and managed to endure even those periods which he execrated so furiously.

those entirely pleasing traits that are vouched for. sincerity. and compelling mastery of Turandot. If and the the delicacy of his meticulous miniaturist's figure its that lends his attractively contradictory stamp. setting apart the fact that the letters are to a large extent concerned with performances of his operas. a passing expression of proud confidence or anxious doubt while a new work is into being. artistic taste. none the le|ss be one of those who. and lavishly endowed at the supreme momeint with the gifts that come from the Unconscious. in his mature the scintillating intensity. uncanny. He may. we are struck by their unintellectual quality. his refined sense of the dramatic. fantastic glamour. and pass in review the writing. or a burst of despairing objurgations provoked required. free-and-easy delight in horse-play. this it is and he had a thoroughly primitive very quality. and even commonness of expression. not to speak of a cheap. yet who were always too slow and never Even produced as much as he coming by his he was con good humour and fits of gloom. worthier of the president of a skittle-club than of the master of a highly individual art. we read EpistolariO) containing his collected letters. or at best. ithe which he practised in secret even the mad charity pranks sknd youthful jests into which he entered up to the last do not seiem straightforwardness. whom stantly coaxing or goading into activity. and business arrangements imposing accumulation of anecdotes about him that have been handed down by word of mouth or in connected with them. a work of creative faculty. and good-heartedness.1 8 GIACOMO PUCCINI As a matter of fact. his sensitive touch. far removed from all neyed. or to his dread of betraying the innermost thoughts of his soul Only rarely can we detect in them the voice of an artist's hopes or despondencies. his often very txjunt dependence upon his accursed librettists. though hearing the dictates of tpe . Jin fact. such as! his simplicity. his the inevitable attributes of a man to whom. we owe yeairs. combined with his fastidious art. Nor can this side of his that is plebeian and hack nature be explained as due merely to an incapacity for precise and clearly-formulated language.

he associated the With of the dramatist Giuseppe Giacosa. Zola. and not leaving the maturing of their creative faculties in the hands of nature alone. for a leading share in the shaping of the daemonic energy and virtuosity of Luigi that practised writer for the theatre. unfortunately without success. eager both to give and take. of Manon Lescaut^ this very composer. This assertion case. such as those beginning of this chapter. is easily made. Illjlca. worthy of the cinema. and Alphonse D'Annunzio. touching verses. who is re completion proached for his unscrupulous theatricality. his contempt for fame and his lasting and in quoted at the cannot but recall that. and have neither the desire nor the capacity to ascend into their own. he did not content himself operatic texts. Possibly he is one of intellectual sphere those whose instinctive vital impulses condition his productivity.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI 19 spend their hours of conscious human life in an existence that is divorced from their artistic functions. and. or any other during their everyday life. wished to compose music for a tragedy on the subject of Buddha. yet it does not quite meet the to recall the fact that In this connexion full we are bound Puccini wrote verses of genuine feeling.in The Girl of the Golden West^ for devising and constructing a Tjvhole act. yet at the same time bar his way into the sphere of intellect. often. Verga. possible effort to rid himself of the professional induce poets of outstanding merit to collaborate with him in his operas. which in affecting terms his consciousness of the express vanity of outward life. with the clumsy journeyman work and commonplace style of the ordinary run of librettists. while in mjbre tender vein . further. thus heightening their own powers. Maeterlinck. or to range through the world of ideas. he might often himself claim credit for the choice of a subject. but always unsatisfied quest for really poetical Yet in spite of this. the main lines of the dramatic situations. the text. Emile Daudet were only a few of those approached by Puccini. too. as . and that this same notorious striver after effective ness We made every and to librettists. and the grouping of the scenes. in his unending. after the superable melancholy. nay more.

but with no over-refined grace of body. compilers of his opera-books. without whicHi a genuine and permanent work of art remains unthinkable. and ready. in which he sto<pd i . stimulating. would be hard to find the Tuscan. and logical connexion between the scenes. had something of the defiant but embarrassed sch<bol- boy about him. We must still try to distinguish every charac teristic. First and foremost it must be laid down that there was noi a single trace of the revolutionary in Puccini. who in ordinary life was a good-hearted companion. born of a good. always ready for a jest. possible perfection in this type in this respect. constantly finding fault. and abominable. healthy stock. and who. even in his later years. blended of the finest essences from a witches' kitchen that is at once exquisite it common.20 GIACOMO PUCCINI shaping the drafts of his operas he subsequently adopted as a few clever. v^hen discovered on some illicit adventure. to help. foremost among them Giuseppe Adami. and urging them the utmost attainable conciseness. strong. cannot but admit that. though some times far from tolerant. the answer to this question will at first cause us some embarrassment. for at first sight it would seem as though the Puccini of every day and Puccini the musician lived separate lives. each going his own way. subtle. and unspoilt literary literary collaborators brains. If we next proceed to inquire to what extent and in what fashion all these human contradictions have found expression in Puccini's music. too. and wringing from them the greatest of text. the Trittico and Turandot are like metal refined in the fire and possess a noble maturity that would have been quite unattainable to an artist of an unintellectual order. of his personality as a man if we are to succeed in establishing that connexion between the creative artist and the Puccini of real life. whether sporting] or amorous. and having no essential features in In his highly cultivated music. who had a clear and was not lacking in imagina appreciation of his own capacity tion. Those who know what an active part Puccini took in and how he harassed the perfecting the words for his operas. en on till they reached couraging. power. whether positive or negative.

who was incomparably the greater and more productive genius of the two. and a revolutionary 'even in his subjects. being a convinced supporter of the legitimate monarchy. On one occasion he even had an interview with Mussolini. in the seclusion of Torre del Lago. with the result that the performance of his works was prohibited over and over again both in his youth and his maturity they suggest the flapping of flags and the wild. and with whom he desired to shake hands. All he of music. the wanted was Hymn that he addressed to Rome the great symbol. a figure who had a powerful fascination for him. and in its character as the Eternal City. and in complete contrast especially the with Verdi. and. but the conversation was confined exclusively to the subject of a grandiose reform of the theatrical and operatic system. which he could not endure not even this hymn had a trace of revolt or of Latin liberty in its composition. which took place a few weeks before his death. while young man. and the blood-red colour of his glowing melodies. in particular. he made merry over the Cavaliere's had just received. caused him sincere pleasure. not as the actual Italian capital. though his nomination as a senator. Again. Its themes suggest neither the red shirt nor the black. and made an interesting and chjosen as a musician. fiery. senator.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI in 11 great contrast with most of his fellow-countrymen. He is the Garibaldi liberty . as well as in his flaming choruses with their tocsin-like ring. to live for the work that tranquil he loved so passionately. Not even his Inno a Roma. with his elemental force and red-hot blaze of passion. rousing dithyrambs of that arose from a rejuvenated Italy. but the affairs of political and public life left him quite unmoved. Puccini stood entirely apart from to discover good texts for operas. and. he preferred a few days later to still quite a cross that he sign himself 'Suonatore del Regno' rather than 'Senatore' the chosen musician of the Kingdom of Italy rather than its him anarchical about he kept a vigilant look-out for every though sign of a ne^v tendency in his art. He attached no importance to orders and decorations. Nor had Puccini anything . and artists among them. politics.

and so would his tendency to treat crude I have already drawn attention subjects and scenes of torture. the murder of Scarpia and the execution in Tosca. And if it be objected tha. or the scene of threatened torture and the piquant application of game of poker played with a man's the stake in The Girl of the Golden West^ or Butterfly's hara-kiri^ the severed heads in Turandot^ or the scene of the strangling in // Tabarro^ and pleasing events of that sort. and intimate modes of expression. there must be some buffoonery masterpiece over a corpse. which cannot 1 be separated from the characters he creates and their experiencles . we are forced to answer that an operatic this is composer's choice of a subject is not merely an expressioiln of his will. but also a fateful land predestined decision from which it is permissible to dtaw conclusions in interpreting his personality. to act as the occasion for his most wayward and witty humour. though ostensibly a sham. is really such a grim reality.t all only preliminary by-play. There is no denying that a trace of cruelty lurked in some secret corner of his soul. and tone-colour. and that he positively required such flagellatory and pathological sexual stimulation in order to rise to the act of creation. by adapting them to his own individual musical idiom. But in all this there was nothing and in music he always remained an evolutionist. intended to set the action of the drama going.aa GIACOMO PUCCINI many daring experiments in harmony. to the fertilizing effects of the commotion set up in his sensitive nervous system by scenes such as that of the double torture. so that in them he mlav . and abandon himself to the most exuberant mirth. the last of which. being the possibilities of his own real closely connected wtith nature. entirely away from Even when he tried to tear himself tragic horror. for these go beyond mere dream. His mania for sport would alone bear witness to this. if no more. revolutionary. life as and I have suggested that this sadic stimulus may obviously be interpreted as the reaction upon his music of a corresponding element in his nature. for which he is responsible. as well as of other and more essential rhythm. as in Gianni Schicchi^ that sparkling of modern buffo art.

a poignant sympathy for defenceless. forced to recognize the futility of revolt against blind. Needless to say. but having as its only result to enervate the spectator. frivolous and tender^ such as Mimi or Cho-Cho-San ? Tosca or Suor . these are usually feminine figures. as well as for self-abnegating devotion defending itself in vain against the blows of ruthless power and its myrmidons. and sickly. it is almost image. unless we study the whole complex from a diametrically opposite point And at this point we have first to consider of view as well. secret his possible to draw conclusions with the illuminating precision of a horoscope with regard to the character of a dramatist or a dramatic composer as a man. too. are none the less laid low. and seeking refuge in death rather than resign itself to the infamous abuses of arrogant officialdom. inexorable destiny and human violence. and having none of the effect of deliverance and relaxation of tension produced by the great writers of tragedy. though willing to struggle. whose nervous resistance it is is beaten down by an accumulation that is of horrors . as well as the purely passive feminine figures. suffering. it is the childish and fragile. creatures sacrificed to unscrupulous greed and slaughts of violence. a release dark impulses through embodying them in the artistic There can be no doubt that. in this particular instance such a conclusion to objection as being not only one-sided. in this sense. whether the process by which Puccini was enabled to produce his work is really to be sought exclusively in the reaction upon an over-cultured nervous system produced by the brutality of a drama consisting mainly in effective situations. Rodolfo and Cavaradossi fall under this category as well. but But would be open so far that the image we form of him will apt to mislead us be a false one. frail. and perhaps. But above all. the reflection of his most from and mysterious promptings.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI see. though Des Grieux. for graceful weakness that for pathetic inhuman on is unable to cope with the brutalities of life and succumbs to them. often 23 with a shudder of horror. those who. or whether not rather all based upon an emotional appeal. the brave and patient.

or. the grim clenching of an iron fist that is to crush all the bloom and The power of splendour without mercy. the sense of paralysing dread before the approach of a horror as yet concealed. is faced by the icy. for suggesting the cloud that hangs over love's innocent dalliance and sunshiny brightness. It is not till Turandot that a change is apparent : here the high-spirited. that weighs ujjpon the heart of the listener with a heavy and dou bly oppression standing 'up there in the ligjfit and have not the slightest inkling of the horror that is fated soron to fall upon them. more desire and irresistible power to very point: in the shriek of the tortured creature. and people as yet blissfully unconscious of its approach. a sense of pain. cunning cruelty of the love. and preferring to die rather than renounce a pure consummation of it. musical tone to suggest this ambiguous atmosphere has seldom been so clearly displayed as in Puccini's music. and the way in which the of disaster gradually makes itself heard in the music. It consists in his gift. though entirely of this world and devoid of all that is allegorical. to change the metaphor. silent threat In such situations as these his music has a paralysing insistence from which we cannot escape. which almost defies analysis. and from which the lightning is soon to leap forth. or even Minnie in the end who cry out most loudly for help against the base ness of the social order and its consequences. or symbolic. already casting its shadow over hours of apparently unmenaced happiness. In this art of quivering suspense (of whigch still so when the characters are 7 . but creeping nearer and nearer with an ominous certainty. irresponsible the vengeful. that is shown to be no more than perverted must be confessed that Puccini's most be found in this a cruelty. \t is transcendental. his Within the blossom of melodies there lurks a canker-worm.24 GIACOMO PUCCINI though she does triumph Angelica. woman It is with her unfeeling hardness over. lustful attacks of man. against their cowardice and helplessness in the face of selfish. who sets up as their judge and executioner. even in his sweetest cantilena ttfere is a note of quivering anguish. inspired by the purest love. intellectually superior man. Manon.

from the needy little seamstress in her garret to the proud duchess in her princely palace. and once. in their between these and the brutal calm and cold passion of their tormentors. a perfect troubadour. by feminine charm to this operatic composer serious . and women'. he was women's composer. loved him. in my opinion. when he was taken to task for his love of the chase. manly exterior and aureole of world-wide fame which he wore. a lover of beauty with inflammable passions. with their striking ardour and animation. sentimental feminine figures. and the contrast again. not to men tion the princesses of the Italian ruling house they all fell under all . good libretti. and they charm of his song.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI 25 he himself was hardly conscious). should have had feminine favours showered upon him without any effort on his part. equally unrepentantly. that he would never have been able to all create these touching. Puccini is unique. in a sense in which few others have been. he answered calmly: Yes. but he always sought them and found To quote his own avowal: *Sono sempre innamorato (I them. had he not himself been the lover and slave of feminine fascination throughout his whole life. and no less of his personality. moreover. It is not surprising that he hardly ever had to waste much time in wooing a woman whom he desired. am always in love) '. of stirring up an almost un bearable sense of sympathy and indignation. as unconcernedly as he did his inevitable felt hat and with a melancholy reserve and noble bearing that promised a still further attraction. himself in adventures. He was the type of the homme a He never lost femmeS) and in some ways surpassed the type. I am a passionate * He was a hunter of water-fowl. It is small wonder that an artist with his winning. and who was. and that not only in his music. and allowing us to divine in advance the fate of tormented human beings. It is true. be it said. and it is possible that the en in this during effect and permanent value of his operas lies even more than in the melody that is his most personal secret. however. or outbursts of agonized sobbing. and that he accepted without any the qualms of self-reproach every tribute paid. and often.

though perhaps she made him suffer. Alfred Kerr of the Berliner . and in spite of all her loving indulgence. Wagner. the reason that his work was merely a partial reflection of him self and his experience. The fact that the same thing is possible even with Mahler and Richard Strauss proves that nearness or remoteness need have nothing to do with the matter. Verdi. For the and I make this reservation advisedly La Boh&me is present the only one of Puccini's works in which it is to estab in time lish the work possible existence of a reciprocal action of his life upon his and vice versa. and we need only possessed of thoroughly personal idiosyncrasies instance Mozart. indeed. who She had to pre regarded the slightest constraint as a wrong. dignity and that of her home. Yet. whose name she bore. Perhaps. Brahms. and not of their most individual features character. cates the at that. besides. Beethoven. for forcing her to play Donna Elvira. still further compli He is a singular phenomenon. to his Don Juan.which. she did not always go the right way to work to attach Monsieur Butterfly' to his home for good. in spite of all the No! Giacomo Puccini's nature was not a simple one. and suffered bitterly in conse * own quence. nor did she always do so in silence. if only for problem. filled though it was with all that was rich and exquisite. did life with such an inflammable person. she loved him as no other woman did in his life. Nor does it make much difference that 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. his chosen companion. and the complexity and contradictions of his it remained consistently natural.26 GIACOMO PUCCINI eminence by success the Alfred Kerr 1 has called him. or Schumann. she had to overcome much vexation and jealousy as a result of the escapades of the man whom she loved. too. Nor to accustomed to love and raised 'male siren (SirenericK)' as is it not have an easy serve her any wonder that Donna Elvira. fact that. in spite of all. denominator to which it is it is far from representing that common qualities of a creative genius generally possible to reduce all the occupying a rank all his own.

it too shy to make a show of his violent in his art. he is too near to us for attitude towards him. . it cannot but be profitable to review the whole course of his life. to venture a last conjecture. after his immortal and heart-rending music. And per haps.REMINISCENCES OF PUCCINI reality 27 mind. to be possible to arrive at a right Possibly we must adopt a different point it of view. in exactly the same way as with some living woman. as a matter of fact. nothing but his life. that was dramatic though in However minds of the highest order. that he Mimi or his Cho-Cho-San. with its anxieties and crises though. and even with his Turandot. with all its troubles and successes. But even if the results at which we arrive prove identical. there was little in it can reveal the roots of his creative work. on a plane from which it may be possible to discern the true relation between the man and his works. it is the contrary that holds good. we may add. may be that he was simply and most intimate emotions all which this is one that should be devoid of reserve. may be. and shed hot tears while he was clothing the death of in his and dream often become confused was often in love with his his little grisette and his charming geisha in the splendour of Yet perhaps. all. its happinesses and conflicts.

on the of which his keys father has laid some coins. while 1 still a lad. Perhaps he would even have to collect the pieces of money. continued to pursue this career. rejoicing immoder ately in the noises that he manages to draw from the mighty instrument. for the church is empty. for the jerky and disconnected sounds that float down from above have little about them that suggests a sacred THE But he would be still more surprised at the picture that would meet his eyes if he were to mount the steps to the choir and examine into the origin of these sudden noises. Such was the means devised by Michele Puccini. for the little fellow was already intended to be an organist. side by side with a dignified gentleman of fifty. composer. and director of the Lucca Conservatorio. and in point of fact became one. For on the organist's bench. and even one absorbed in solitary prayer might well cast a glance of astonishment up at the organ-loft. not for divine worship. had he not. fumbling with his tiny hands at the manuals.CHAPTER Was man III THE LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION einem angehort. even if one were to away. wird nicht los: und wenn man es wegwurfe.^ GOETHE organ peals out in the cathedral at Lucca. early age cated apparatus of manuals and registers. pedals and couplers. sits a little fellow aged five at the outside. organist. Every time his fingers reach out melody. One could not it get rid of what throw really pertains to one. 28 . who goes on pressing down the keys even when all the soldi have gone. the to the ecstatic delight of the little organ-pipes begin to boom. boy. for his little boy Giacomo with a desire to inspiring play the and familiarizing him at an with the compli organ.

But Antonio's son Domenico succeeded in shedding even greater lustre upon the name of Puccini he died so sud denly and at such an early age for he had barely reached his . as is testified by a number of Masses and no less than thirteen dramatic works. like the Bach family in been accredited servants of St. in which may be read a prophetic passage that is all the . indeed. have been the more important The authorities were. that many people persisted stubbornly in forty-fourth year believing that a friend and rival had given him poison in a fruit ice of which he had partaken on the previous day at the table of a rich patron. Cecilia. for the sake of which he had abandoned for good his native town of Gello di Pescaglia. he was granted a rise. Germany. of discrimination: when the ancestor of the ever.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 29 been drawn by a vague longing into walking one day from Lucca to Pisa to hear Verdi's A'ida. on 22nd that he was to birth. since for genera tions past the Puccinis. gentlemen Puccinis. who was an Puccini. precedence His son Antonio succeeded him in all his honourable func tions in Lucca. how person in the eyes of the rulers. who may well. that family of musicians. in the external marks of honour granted them by the authorities who controlled these matters. In the archives of Torre del Lago is to be found an obituary notice of Giacomo's grandfather written by Pacini. Nor was this surprising. is shown by the status occupied all The spite of * delightful fact that the general music-director' to the state ranked for purposes of salary in the same grade as the execu tioner. and apparently inherited his talents too. the composer took of the executioner. in his monthly salary in order to make plain to the eyes of all that. formally at least. had beginning with Giacomo the great-great-grandfather of our Maestro. amount ing to a small loaf. lodged a complaint with regard to the status assigned him. From the very day of Giacomo Puccini's December 18585 it was irrevocably decided become a musician. illustrious musician and primo maestro (master of the music) to the Republic of Lucca. his adopted home. by artists in the seventeenth century.

which generally show the same steadily rising line. and Giacomo Puccini. and an even wider one. in which the A zigzag specifically creative gift brilliant emerges more and more clearly. can have Domenico Puccini died had no knowledge of him: 'Ad un garzoncello. of for all people. whose operas Asrael and Germania attracted attention far beyond the borders of Italy. in whom all the supreme and unique manifestation of maximum intensity. forming an epitome of all its ancestors. perhaps. culminating in the phenomenon of the predestined heir. che i suoi antenati ben si meritarono neir arte armonica. Benedetto Marcello in Venice. these was Fortunato afterwards appointed director of the world-famous Liceo Magi. besides two operas. Among and Alberto Franchetti.30 GIACOMO PUCCINI this more remarkable because fortythree years before the birth of his grandson. yet. By a curious coincidence it was Franchetti. had exhausted itself so that no productive completely faculty was left for the generation isolated capacities of his forefathers are concentrated in a . too. after which comes an abrupt break. for he gained a wide reputation as a composer of church music of merit. who managed to get it away from him by all La sorts of petty tricks. the much-fted son setting of his former master. though he may have had a presentiment of his future existence. who in after years tried to acquire Illica's libretto Tosca^ based on Sardou's drama. as a teacher. solo superstite ed erede di quella gloria. sole survivor and heir to that fame s^ justly merited by his forefathers in the art of harmony. Michele be able to revive one day)'. having among his pupils a number of musicians who afterwards won a considerable reputation. proved to be the one marked out to carry on the family tradi tion : and he. in doing so. for the purpose of it to music. as though the accumulated talent of generations had been saving itself up for the purpose of pro ducing its purest bloom in this single scion. took an important step forward. and so. 'which he will perhaps Of his three children. curious similarity may be noted in the course followed by the genealogies of distinguished families. e che forse potra egli rivivare un giorno (To a boy.

untractable boys who may equally well develop into very boring dignitaries or into fiery artists or whether. and shrill scraping sounds of unknown origin. to the effect that he was sure to become a great maestro. that he could only be driven to But there practise his is good evidence music unwillingly and listlessly. This has not been so with Giacomo Puccini. though from time to time he would emerge from his hothouse atmosphere of dolce far niente and be ready we have about him for all sorts of boyish mischief. down from an upper story. and that Tonio Puccini never touched either or any other instrument again. it is true. wild. Unkind rumour has it that. but this much is vouched for. very much weakened. however. insists that he has never felj the slightest signs of musicianship. the Maestro rushed out of the room stopping his ears. he was a shy. who had in the meantime heard of his little son's secret practising. the Maestro's son. but still with a personal quality. Arnaldo Fraccaroli. was floating on the lake off Torre del Lago. and that the opinion generally prevailing in Lucca. but legend records neither surprise on the Master's part when his work was surprise nor delight interrupted by wails. As a child. called the boy to him and asked him to play something. as at that age would rather point towards the latter conclusion. Tonio. intro rather inert and dreamy child. . was a matter of complete indifference to him. gaily decked with streamers.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 31 In the exceptional cases of Bach immediately succeeding it. floating squeaks. It does. I have not been able to ascertain whether little Giacomo was one of those typically Tuscan. and Wagner alone do we find the survival of a capacity for artistic production in the sons. like many musicians. relate how one day Giacomo Puccini. It would appear that the same thing very nearly happened to Giacomo Puccini: at the very age when love of music young it and musical capacity usually show the most decisive signs of their presence he hated music and all pertaining to it like poison. he wr^ urged to learn the violin as a delightful for his father. it is true. that half an hour later the fiddle. But such information spective. after the very first bars.

this It is true that Music his abilities seem to have neither young Giacomo nor tHose of his little turns at blowing the organ. though also under the spur of At the age of six he had lost his father. scarcely calculated to awaken a genuine love of vocalises and other boring musical exercises in a self-willed. because these lessons meant an unwelcome interruption of his boyish alto voice at the singing lessons given dreamy indolence. quite young Johannes Brahms. quite little showed This did not prevent him from being actively engaged at an early age in playing the organ in every church in Lucca. Albina Puccini-Magi. having to play dance music on pianos that were more or less out of tune. or. always displayed the pious reverence they should have done for the sanctity of the house of God. sending his foot up into the air with a It can well be understood that this drastic method was jerk. prudent. was peculiarly trying to him.32 Puccini's friend * GIACOMO PUCCINI and biographer. while his inward voices were ready to sing him a sweeter and happier music of a different kind. the story goes that one day they stole some of the tin organ-pipes in order to buy cigarettes and friends who took . like young failed in his that was characteristic of examinations every year in the consistent fashion him. relates that the training of his him by his mother's Uncle Magi'. so that by the time he was fourteen it became Giacomo's duty to assist his careworn mother and relieve her at least of the burden of his own At school he had support. hard-working mother. was burdened with the care of seven children. not only brother. so that even long afterwards the sound of a false note is said to have set up a reflex action in him. out of enthusiasm for the organist whom they admired. and his necessity. At any rate. dreamy lad who eagerness to learn anything else. whose love knew no bounds. but also because every note he sang out of tune was marked by a sharp kick on the shins. He did so with a growing pleasure in his work. but at the Pacini Institute of developed so astoundingly that could already be entrusted with the most half-grown boy responsible musical functions at the services of the Church.

.

PUCCINI The composer's wife FOSCA LEONAREH-PXJCCINI The composer's daughter .

the boy was seated at the organ. to the to the secret delight of the less pious. and. their enchanting melody being no more nor less than love was frankly based upon themes from an opera that Giacomo had heard a little time before. their own fresh boys' voices did duty for the missing notes of the pipes they had abstracted though the fact that neither the congre canons noticed any difference would seem gation nor the pious to indicate that they had not a very fine ear for music. and so would another occurrence related by Carlo Paladini. he suddenly and quite unintentionally glided into a highly profane and lively is There a curious parallel to this in the it of Strauss. who is my authority for most of these stories of Giacomo's youth. the pale faces of the nuns were through covered with a delicate blush. shy glances were brilliantly turned on high. again. and bright. teacher. Giacomo's for this evil purpose. this time. polka. It in a flurry of alarm.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 33 sweets with the proceeds. for the strains that were now streaming down to them no longer had any of the solemn austerity of sacred music. appealing and full of a sensuous charm. possibly though . melodious his fancy. to whom also consternation of the faithful congregation. and recorded by Fraccaroli. upon which he was composing variations. till he suddenly improvisations. During a solemn service in the oratory of the Benedictine Nuns. would immediately have life been young Johann on one occasion that. the congregation. fell after a modulation into the austere severity of a Gregorian chorale. but were sweet. while happened he was playing the organ in a church in Vienna. realized with astonishment where he was. translated into music. giving free rein to came to himself. fughettas and free. and sending its music pealing through the Suddenly a thrill of rapture ran lighted edifice. the priestly servants of God do not seem to have noticed any sign of this unseemly impiety. which accordingly restored the threatened dignity of the sacred edifice in all its ascetic austerity. otherwise Yet the absent-minded organist relieved of his duties. and that the next time Giacomo seated himself before the manuals.

in addition to this. had he never that pilgrimage to Pisa on which he heard A'ida. Those who remember musician. Paulinus. painted. who was the first Bishop of Lucca. Little seems to have survived of the sacred compositions of Puccini's made youth.34 GIACOMO PUCCINI The birth of the composer in Giacomo Puccini dates from this period. the inventor of bells. for . at least. and it is doubly an irony that Puccini. has. against a background of gold. will be able to measure how great is Puccini's debt of gratitude to that saintly man. ecstatic chants of the nuns and the tender exaltation of the music. and. whose requirements he met by countless chants. as a composer of church music. which marked the first considerable success of the twenty-year-old not the only thing for which we have thank St. It is an irony of fate that this 'atrociously theatrical' composer should have started his career under such non-secular auspices. but in the ill-famed and thoroughly irreligious sphere of the theatre the subtle music accompanying the solemn church ceremonies : of the first act of Tosca. when church music was in the ascendant in his life. exclusively devoted to the service of the Church militant. as it were. and which to is the scene in the church to which we have referred above in Tosca. not even the motet performed in the church of San Paolino at Lucca on the name-day of its patron saint. One work. motets. above all. and. and the strangely blended tone of the various kinds of bell-instrument in Turandot^ and the intervals sounded on them. period. should have reached his proud consummation not through these still somewhat impersonal and artless works. been preserved from destruction. that accompany the in the finale miracle in Suor Angelica^ bear most emphatic witness to the heights that he would have been capable of attaining had he remained faithful to sacred music. and Masses. and enables us to draw conclusions with regard to the quality of the young composer's that it it was not till later reached such a dazzling development. In the little museum which Tonio Puccini has arranged with such fine talent at that time. among his compositions of that first however. the innocent.

tions to the glory and boredom of God. shy little impersonal and thoroughly schematic. but preferring to infuse { the life-blood of melody into everything. yet none the less forward towards his own individual mode pressing resolutely of expression. which all copyists. yet already. and already yellowing a little. neat. tenderly appealing. among other things. remaining all the while more akin to this than to a remote heaven. (Regens cAori) in a little provincial town having none of his German counterpart's pedagogical ambitions towards displaying his erudite contrapuntal and polyphonic mirror' canons. naturally. and choral varia skill in stiff double fugues. Similarly. amid that some sweet. Yet it is almost touching to all see how. confusedly seeking his way. and feels the first slight stir of tf\p wings that would have loved to soar into the free air. and striving not so much after correct polyphony as after rich effects fair earth of harmony. there. script. as he well knew. almost were the terror of then. this already chrysalis stage of the young artist. phrase raises its flower-like head here and is promise of the highly secular operatic composer of the future. like a having that unique. and. he c throw in a Scusi! (Pardon!)' for the benefit of the un to copy it. away from the constraints of this four- . somewhat stiff dashed off. which is. the manuscript of a vocal Mass with orchestral obbligato. as it were. there is.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION filial 35 piety in his father's study at Torre del Lago. endeavouring to adapt the operatic pregAiera and the simple hymn to a stricter style. written in a remarkably without a trace of the nervously when would a page was in a particularly abominable mess. the work itself in many ways resembles the honest production of a worthy and competent choirmaster an Italian one. In the manuscript of be seen plainly the as yet unemancipated. for now and moreover. illegible notation of his later scores. with a strange emotion as one turns the pages of this score dating from the year 1880. caressing tone to which One is seized the whole world was to surrender ten years later. together with many touches of a surprising sureness. sure of himself. though still immature fortunate person who had Mass can and entirely dependent upon his models.

while in the Agnus pered. however.36 part GIACOMO PUCCINI Mass in A flat. into the light. gradually throwing outer shell and pushing forward hesitatingly. obtained at a bound. be detected here and there in a way that has almost a symbolic significance. off his ir One lesson Giacomo Puccini had to learn. that. yet already betraying retrospective examination. however. into them -over only to be frightened back The broad melody of the exultant. more touchingly illuminating than such a Nothing can be When subjected to it. as may at first musician. like everybody else. yet resistibly. and the other was exemplified and fellow-artist Pietro Mascagni's Perhaps it was fortunate for Puccini strangely tragic fate. in which the voice of the world can. by Dei can be heard the madrigal from Manon Lescaut. which was probably rejected as being too modern and difficult for performance at the time when it was written. One of these facts he experienced in his own person. if hardly sufficiently so to justify such symptoms of a vocation its existence. almost dance-like Gloria in two-four time. for it has to proceed step by step. but here used as a tranquil. written in the ancient notation with square signs for the long and the light touch of the notes. the majestic advance of the 'Quoniam' phrase in the Gratias. still ham young musician is again heard in a certain constraint. forming a curiously amorous end to a pious work. with hardly a change. that in the evolution of an artist nothing can be forced. a regular fugue. is usually followed by an in his friend ominous reaction. he never met with any success in those prize competitions for which he . is seen to be mere routine work. talented. Kyrid) already anticipates the finale some of the phrases being almost note for note the same . have provoked a certain antipathy to the new Only those looking back at these in the light of subsequent events can recognize them as the distinctive marks of a man and artist of an individual type. is operatic in its character. unlike the composer of Cavalleria Rusticana. devotional song of praise to the Lamb of God. following a gently animated of the first act of Tosca. and over again. and that sudden success. this work. again.

advice. that everything of which he still stood in need in the way of teaching.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 37 entered with youthful impatience. Moreover. longings and his instinctive consciousness that he had a personal aim. There. too. at which masters such as . in the city of Verdi. But this. where he felt. after a brief period during which he was brought into prominence and raised upon an His first opera Le Villi (The Witch-Dancers). and there alone. to find satisfaction within the bounds of an easy. inspiration. They. Verdi's mag who was at the same time whose encouragement. exalted pedestal. it was a fortunate dispensation of Providence that this very failure should have brought him into touch with Giulio Ricordi. But Puccini was too much by all the elements of growth and spring-like freshness world surrounding him. the Scala opera house and the famous Conservatorio. would have obtained as much success in its original form as it hardly did when rewritten in two acts. and continuing to play the organ. for otherwise he might possibly have remained in his native town. which was passed over in the competition for a one-act piece initiated by the musical publishing house of Sonzogno. Puccini had already been nanimous publisher and friend. shortly afterwards inspired him with an inflexible determination to leave his native city and go to Milan. filled as it then was with im patient questionings and disturbing doubts of all that was traditional. and patronage the young composer owed his steady progress more than to those of all others. with clair voyant certainty. again. of a different order from any to be found in Lucca. and to a unsuccessful in an earlier prize competition in connexion with hymn with which the municipality of Lucca had had the idea of opening an art exhibition. artistic companionship and spontaneous awakening of his powers must be awaiting him. Sonzogno's principal rival. It was his wild philistine artistic existence. that first drove him forth on that tramp to Pisa to hear the performance of Aida^ which roused a storm within him like a raging gale and stirred in the first revealed to him his true vocation. proved fortu nate. winning premature admiration as a local celebrity.

he achieved his clearly-defined purpose in the teeth of all obstacles and all objections based merely it his mother. period of a year. and succeeded in persuading the queen to grant to providing for the young Puccini a monthly allowance of a hundred lire for the Great was his rejoicing. But not only had Giacomo to live on this legendary hundred lire. with a stomach that was always hungry and a mania for smoking endless cigarettes.38 GIACOMO PUCCINI Bazzini and Amilcare Ponchielli were teaching. with a wonderful capacity for silent sacrifice. must be the starting-point of the path marked out for him by the powers of destiny. Even at that time a hundred lire a month was none too much for a young man like Puccini. almost amounting to a monomania. to think of an expedient: the Countess Pallavicini. She managed. and since the postal official whose duty it was a to deliver the monthly instalments of his allowance to the future genius was three 1 room shared by the young men. soon gave to a helpless sense place of want. not to speak of an occasional desire to offer few flowers to some nice young girl and treat her to a gelato (ice) now and then in the Galleria at Milan. however. 1 a lady-in-waiting to Queen Margherita. he would scarcely have succeeded in gaining his ends. for the obstacles were mainly of a material order. was kindly disposed towards her. living away from home. and marked by a decision and sternness wonderful in a young man of twenty. which Giacomo swaggered about puffed during up with pride and feeling a perfect Croesus. not to speak of a poor cousin. and had the unkind habit of keeping back The Epistolario says it also the landlord of the little TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. With such tastes as these he would have found it hard to become a capitalist. but his brother Michele had to share them. Signora Puccini would have found it impossible to support her Giacomo in Milan in addition Yet had upon what was reasonable. not been for the insight and help of a woman him with the wherewithal to pursue his studies. And with an indomitable. burden of maintaining her band of children at home was already almost more than she could bear. But the first period. imperturbable energy. . was the Marchesa Viola-Marina.

but he was delighted what he had longed for so much. success and wealth have of luck ? and by next year. imperturbable confidence and firm belief in when he really got the strength of youth. he had to cook his few beans. however. and since days. To-morrow. in order to be on the safe side. none of the poor young fellows received of this much more than twenty heavy sum that is. in which he denied that he was in need of anything. which the future. so they evidently cannot have drunk very much champagne in those Puccini often went very hungry at that period. which. that in after days the very sight of a minestra (broth with vegetables. a little request slipped timidly and insinuatingly into his usual dry reports of facts. He simply asked for a tin not afford to buy in the (cassettina) of olive-oil. How knows that it has time glorious before it. rice. thinks the young man. for not only is it steeled against disappointment and care by its wonderful. Italian paste. undaunted by bad luck and enforced priva tion. about lire each after the deduction lira a two-thirds of a day . and rushes towards its goal. though it says but little in words. in how sad and pitiable a case this musical student was. etc. 'feel violently a rule he wrote reassuringly to his mother of his well-being and the good progress of his studies. for the very reason that his vigorous and healthy temperament rebelled see against all privations. will come the great piece when fame. As from the touching involuntary revelations in his letters to her. but it is capable of laughing away all these cramping conditions and enduring them with undismayed cheerfulness. but we can ill'. .LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 39 thirty lire for the rent as soon as the remittance arrived. throws a flood of light upon his poverty in those days. too. his stomach revolted with the utmost determination against its compulsory emptiness. he could not bear the linseed oil in which great city. had little money is to spare for -such luxuries. to quote his own words. he loaded it with such quantities of watery broth and beans.). for he knew that his mother. Once. feels all its powers growing day by day. but. or a dish of beans made him. He reproached himself all the while for his presumption. which he could he said.

Schaunard and Colline. but he. in a rather devil-may-care mood. but he may well have had many hours of grievous weariness and all alone and could throw aside his depression. of just such winning young girls as those with whom they mixed. First he pretended to be going on a visit to the country. for light-hearted faith and high spirits. as well as with the most vigorous vitality. the scanty remarks in his letters tell us nothing definite. and had had the same opportunities of experiencing and reciprocating the charming loves. on the ground that the polish on the furniture which was. or. But since they were not prepared either to freeze with cold or to go hungry. at worst. living as he did from the first under the shadow of melancholy and doubt. for he was himself at once Rodolfo and Marcello. they never lasted long. is that. the land had forbidden the young men to do any cooking in their lady wretched little room. but he returned again almost at once ? told the landlady. GIACOMO PUCCINI ! he feels quite surprised to think that life could ever have been really hard and full of anxiety But what we should like to know is whether. is that it represents his own personal experience as none of his other works do. On one occasion. Perhaps the reason why La Boheme rings truer than all his works. There are scenes in his life that might have come out of the La Bohlme. if he was ever overtaken by moods of this sort. quite innocent of any such first act of thing as french polish might possibly end by suffering some from the fire in the stove or the flames of the spiritdamage lamp. Giacomo devised an ingenious idea that saved the situation.40 arrived. Giacomo Puccini really passed through this period with such We cannot really say. at once flighty and constant. when' he was What is certain usual mask of self-advertising magniloquence. and neglected no opportunity of wheedling some of her gifts out of Fortune. for instance. who. had a good ness of heart that prevented them from being spoilt by it. and is filled with the warmest humanity. faced life in an unconcerned. and his brother and cousin too. easy-going spirit. though knowing life. and went off with a small. with many . however. empty bag.

The masterly may over and over again speaks of his diligence in executing his tasks. and the way in which he distributed his hours of study. each time in a different key. It is not quite easy to make out exactly how hard Giacomo worked at this time. for his days were almost hardly be wronging him time to his own secret work of composition. and only possible way. to the kindly. train. the exquisite and personal stamp of the harmonies. but we shall if we assume that he devoted far more . these in his workmanship. The legend is current that he showed up the same fugue some dozen times. he himself diligent theoretical studies during his period of instruction. the thorough study of important operatic scores. Creative minds of his do not as a rule strongly individual the composer of La Gioconda never noticed ability and conscientious technical it. having locked the door. produced three eggs and some butter from his coat pockets and some wood and coal from the bag. may even have been motives from La Boheme that were already welling up beneath his fingers with such exuberant brilliance and unbridled merriment. or what the schools have to offer them. As we had already begun to shape themselves mind. and that taught shall see shortly. while out side the door the postman's wife wiped tears of emotion from the piano to his and began her eyes at the unexampled industry of this young musician and It pathetic lot. and were pressing tumultuously towards the light. and his first decisive step in entirely filled with music. and improvisation at the piano. then he was acting the right. sat down to thunder away at it with much brilliance and many crashing chords. and the blend nobility of instrumental timbre in Puccini's works are no proof of type get very much out of what they can learn from others. for otherwise his own individuality would not have made its way to the light so rapidly and with such tempestuous force. in order to drown the clatter of lighting the stove and the noise of sputtering butter. absent-minded Maestro Amilcare Ponchielli. However that be. If this were so. who him counterpoint and loved him like a father. and then. than to dry technical exercises.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION some story about missing a 41 objurgations.

the Eternal Father. who had obviously received the stigmata of art but for that very reason it may be questioned whether they imposed severe enough tests upon him. diploma Among the professors at the Milan school of music Ponchielli and Bazzini were the two who felt the greatest affection for the young composer. This would hardly have been necessary. curses on the man who invented them)'. he wrote home indignantly: -Voi altri a Lucca Tavete sempre colle raccomandazioni maledetto a chi le ha inventate (You people at Lucca are always bothering about And introductions. and appreciated his boundless warm-heartedness and entire absence of He envy. as it were. was genuinely proud of Ponchielli's friendship. however carelessly he might sweep aside all that was irrelevant to himself and his real nature. he never liked to be beholden to others for anything. for their patronage. He He named *il that clear-sighted. for Puccini never chose the easy way when working on his own account. when he was allowed to trusting to . and of what he was capable. When his ever prudent and obsequious friends so attention. ^ sincerely reciprocated the affection of his two chief pro nick fessors. his own on leaving the Conservatorio. and he meant to prove it. he had every reason for this proud sense of independence and self-confidence. though. Besides which. and his attitude towards superiority. He now knew his own worth. still less. as master . it would seem. and its preference for its own But he tempestuous and uncertain career. whether for their affection or. much tried to recommend him to call or another before the examinations tion upon some all-powerful person and solicit his recommenda : and influence. would escort him home every day. him was obviously one of good-humoured youthful with its smile of understanding and indulgent rejection of the circumscribed wisdom of the mature.42 GIACOMO PUCCINI towards independence would not have met with such astonishing success as was achieved by his Capriccio sinfonico^ which attracted and in which he provided. but preferred to owe everything to his own strength and ability. yet indulgent old gentleman Bazzini Padre Eterno'. however. in a varying degree.

though he extinguished own glory. who positively forced young Puccini to compose for the stage. . who knows nothing is nothing of ill- and to whom save the cijase of the art he loves. in obtaining as the author of operatic libretto. Ponchielli never wearied in his assistance. Milan. however.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION listen to his fiery discourses 43 he might well be proud of this friendship. he was un Puccini as a collaborator. the much-fted composer of operas. and state at once that it was art. He performance of it at the Teatro dal Verme. of the unspeakably poor and inadequate words earliest still when we think of Puccini's two first operas. artist. however. And when Le Villi was finished. now caused a general shaking of heads by of men. and introduced the inexperienced composer to his own and publisher. for it proved itself in the most noble and unselfish fashion long after his student days were at an end. Giulio Ricordi. in spite of this he was untiring in his efforts to find his protg6 an failure. or vanity. who promoted the helpful abandoning the meteor Mascagni and harnessing the Puccini to his solicitude still fixed star own career. almost be said to have been regrettable. who had made This a reputation that is not altogether easy to explain. the most experienced. We may here anticipate a little. success may. Even after this Ponchielli's kind did not flag: he approached Ghislanzoni. successful. far-sighted. on And Ponchielli. in order that the full light might of importance modestly aside fall upon him whose his rise was the joy of his old age. Next. but Boito preferred that of the glorious old master Verdi. who stepped into the shade. and succeeded this longed-for book the poet Ferdinando Fontana. self-love. who had written the book for Atda> and tried to associate him with This time. thereby creating himself a rival of a dangerous and outstanding order. In all this Ponchielli showed himself a model of the unselfishness of the true will. before whom both he himself and all the accredited masters of the Italian operatic stage were soon to be forced to abdicate. further endeavoured to interest Arrigo Boito in the eager young He to remain his own librettist and aspirant.

Pauline Lucca. The success of Tosca meant the end for between the two subjects is unmistakable: in the one we have a prima donna. Puccini himself cer never observed that his lovely cantatrice Floria was the tainly natural daughter of the highly unnatural Gioconda. and there are portions of the real it is. in a double sense. gratitude.44 GIACOMO PUCCINI Again. but the by grace of the devil. But even the by sham execution is common to both operas. fine qualities in La Gioconda: the cantabile is on a undoubtedly They belong to two different worlds. and nothing can be more instructive than a of the two scores. but how dead most of and arid even in its impassioned moments. . high plane. by surrendering herself to the monster who has at his command the whole power of the The police. 1 how rigid in their traditional dialogue in the decla form and almost TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. each of whom is subjected to brutal violence in order to force her to save her lover. only difference is that Tosca preserves her honour by murdering her tormentor. whose person and life are threatened by the law and its torturers. to a period of transition. by an odd freak of an ironic destiny. Only those my own 1 ance of this Lucca. and in the other a street parallel singer. work that inspiration . and the daemonic passion of Pauline thanks to whose talent the life of this work. and La Gioconda suicide. severed from each other by a There are turning-point in intellectual history. La Gioconda^ deposed from its predominant position. that Ponchielli's who owed him was of finally most prominent work. a famous prima donna at the Vienna Opera. it must needs the greatest be through Giacomo Puccini. La Gioconda^ and that belonging was prolonged on the German stage. the arias have a melodic line that its is often noble in earnest emotion. and are separated by an which is not merely that dividing one abyss generation from the next: it is the abyss between two ages. in which comparison the dramatic action is inspired by so many similar motives. generation can still recall the German perform opera. their phrasing are the recitatives and the show how dragging in how hackneyed matory passages.

avoiding all however insignificant. for in them the musician over and over again gains the upper hand to the detriment of the dramatist. supple.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION 45 are the vocal parts. even more than in his and the softly piquant aroma of his highly-seasoned harmonies. as im oable as a breath. is the two. in spite of their finely sculptural articulation and their impassioned pathos is too often lacking projected line. simplicity. and naturalness without a trace of . of colour and is water-colour. necessary compare finely. Equally incomparable reduces everything to longueurs^ its Puccini's prodigious economy. This shows a self-denial on the part of the composer as a musician for the benefit of the dramatic development. if often slightly articulated melody with that of his pre decessor very closely. Verdi nor Richard capable of practising with such consistent selfabnegation . That which had the power to carry away an in elasticity. to see in what the novel element in him echo of a great tradition that has to consists. It is hardly Puccini's delicately animated. display of mere solo virtuosity. scientifically concocted. But if we Strauss was wish to obtain a full and of what its it is that lends his intensified impression of Puccini's essential modernity mode of expression peculiar quality. which neither Mozart nor Wagner. and upon the utmost There is scarcely any ever is hardly there any check in the action or break in the relation between the music and the dramatic situation on the stage for the sake of rounding off the musical form or prolonging a fine melodic idea. or the mere audience lost its vitality. full life down to the smallest detail. we shall find it in the imperceptible touches. and insisting concentration in dramatic composition. fifty years ago like an elemental outburst of frenzied and impotent despair now reveals itself as being largely agony artificial in construction. as tional scarcely any ground of comparison between indeed. of his dialogues in recitative. In these passages of dialogue (pfefferstdubencT) we find delicacy. There little. as there is between a rather conven brilliant academic study and an enchantingly subtle. which most concise expression. with their cantilena rc6nomy of both words and music.

In the second year his greatwas uncle. from which even Massenet. came forward in the role of Maecenas. coming straight from the heart. without being in the least aware that he was doing so. but we find no record that his La Bohdme-like But it was existence became any more opulent in consequence. was the revelation of a new world. he could not help eclipsing the famous work of recitative. now time to show what use he had made of his time. and piangendo tony. psalmodizing recitative secco was always It is not surprising that it was the entire absence incapable. virtue of his more sensitive and modern musical setting of a similar subject. has given place The supple cadence of a limpid. the insincerity of his perfumed elegance. of this musical. is worlds away. Puccini's above all. and tearful by turns. Dr. Certi. with its intolerable mono to a recitative limpido. and the avoidance of heroic gesticulation characteristic of Puccini's treatment of combined with its abandonment of conventional forms and its more supple. everyday speech can be sprightly. and not only by impossibility. tender. that showed the hollowness and stilted movement of opera scria to be an The fact that on this account. and is capable of expressing modest endurance and silent suffering as they become imperceptibly articulate feats of which the stiff.46 GIACOMO PUCCINI and a genuinely human note in the music. and with so little justification. his dearly loved master for ever. tenero. the lack the anaemic. who has been proclaimed as Puccini's true ancestor. if only by reason of his invention. a physician at Lucca. and. tender. The young composer was now equipped for his career. exaggerated pathos. of his modes of expression. making sport Milan to the Giacomo Puccini owed generosity of that this his first year's study in Queen Margherita (though we may say in passing none too handsome). . of rhetorical declamation and exalted pathos. not to say monotony. quality of poverty-stricken of variety. The recita intimate quality secco tive (declamatory recitative). remains one of the unkind jests of those incomprehensible powers which delight in of the wretched creatures of earth. and plaintive type. so often. nervous handling of the melody.

at one moment in despair. or old letters with a blank page at the back of them. What a way to compose he thought. however. Every morning the youngster would arrive with a handful of bits and ends of paper. an hour later full of megalo mania.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION Kind old those days. was rather a novel experience He now naively confident formlessness and impatience. to which their revered master was expected to set What now met in its his signature as confirmation of his pupil's arrival at maturity. during all those years for which he had gone on a fictitious world. The best thing to do was simply not to look at the stuff. and possessed by a frenzied determina And now came this devil of a tion to find self-expression. caring nothing for bourgeois propriety. so that it with blots. too. ready to buy a rope and hang himself for good. again. ! . however feverishly he might beg with pleading eyes for advice and an opinion. in the form of an independent composition. so absent-minded. independent. a new type of existing complacently in musician had grown up. on approaching the close of their lessons. sometimes. 47 Ponchielli never ceased shaking his head during Countless times during his experience it had hap pened that. so unsettled and full of capricious whims had he been. but to comfort the poor fellow with all sorts of encouraging speeches. Puccini. though his master had no. it was filled with a jumble of musical hieroglyphs jotted down on staves that rose and fell All this had to be deciphered. his eye. almost lost patience with him during the last few weeks. margins torn off newspapers. Surely no well-ordered piece could possible come into being in such a disorderly fashion! It was hardly possible and yet a disappointment would be so painful. and whereever there was any sort of blank space. was impossible to disentangle them. this worthless fellow of whom he was so fond but he was anything but worthless. peppered perturbed at the sight of this in which every line encroached on the next. . his pupils had submitted to him neatly copied-out compositions as a final test of proficiency. realized that. and then. The old maestro was quite in order and finally even played 1 almost illegible script. arranged like the waves of the sea.

the much-fted conductor.48 GIACOMO PUCCINI But this was no disappointment. The pile of pages to which this extraordinary collection of slips. though Lucca had been quite prepared to treat him as one. now But after a had at last long period of hibernation. the splendours of the day but also the ecstasies of night. or perhaps even a little too late. at once drew the attention of all musical Italy to a rising talent. as this process went on. in which he referred to it as one of the to repeat this brilliant piece at a concert at the abiding and most gratifying impressions of the musical year and said that it had aroused a storm of enthusiasm. proved to be a Scala opera while a leading critic. 1 This little work. and he was The danger that a talent may twenty-five years of age. critic's actual words. looking as if they had come out of the dustbin had swelled by degrees. It was now known that such a person as Giacomo Puccini existed. and it came at the right time. the anno J In passages where the author paraphrases appended in footnotes. and it is not impossible that even Puccini had been threatened by it. But the . as it were. haustive article to it. which. wafted to the young com and written down as though at the dicta poser by dream voices tion of some external force. offered institution. the glittering butterfly emerged from the chrysalis stage to reflect not only . and. Filippo Filippi. and it became evident that the young man stood in no need of either advice or encourage ment. be bottled up till it is too late is more frequent than is supposed. during a trance-like state in which his own will had seemed suspended. were: 'rimarra dei saggi di quest* Italian text is come una delle migliori impressioni freely. devoted an ex house. it > brilliant symphonic Capriccio^ bubbling over with and caprice. was gradually arranged in due sequence and written out in a normal score. which had been. discover his real self. . as quoted in Fraccaroli (Vita di Giacomo Puccini). when performed at the students' temperament concert which closed the session at the Conservatorio. 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. . caused a sensation that was not confined to those connected with the Franco Faccio. and was full of It was that fateful moment which leads a man to promise. Puccini had never been a prodigy. .

"~ _L ' FIRST PAGE OF THE CapTiccio sinfonico (reduced facsimile) .

.

and well constructed. often with a clever touch of the that is original in the best sense of the word. the throbbing heart beat and strange magic of the melodies in La Eohlme\ they are. trill to a vehement crescendo on the cellos and kettle swelling that can no longer be ignored. buds from the same ornamental plant. The final section takes it up once more. with passes into three-eight time. full of youth. ozonewealth of precious colour. After a epilogue. whereas in the Capriccio they are shyly opening their if first tiny flowerets. headstrong rhythm. The whole is tersely vigorous. already possess all the fragrance. the number of them still though. develops it further. unconsciously. in the springlike profusion of the opera. and wayward caprice. coming between the other two slow. in which are to be found phrases of great grace and poignant charm. one saw a in full bloom. It is a piece in three sections: a principal section. is notable if only because leading theme is note for note the same as that which occurs opening of La Boheme^ and bubbles up in so many scenes its exuberant. after which it is developed with a clearly-defined and strongly rhythmical line. sustained ones. for all its freshness and clarity. drums.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION Even 49 to-day. Puccini had already lived through the inward experiences of the Vie de Boh&me. and it is as like freshness. and uncommon however. advancing proudly above a weighty. stately theme is given out at the beginning on the brass. long before Murger's . but. the bracing. We feel how intensely. and bizarre pro claims the advent of a new composer and a new type of music life. with rolling kettle-drums and rushing tremoli on the strings. and leads it towards a spirited close. chromatically descend ing series of octaves in the bass parts. as it were. and the often slightly exaggerated and giddy merriment with which it at the of that opera. and an an introduction. the Capriccio sinfonico remains a fine work. and is written with a sure touch. a grave. it is not as yet particularly striking as the expression of a characteristic musical idiom. while the lyrical episodes. too. when viewed not merely as a subject for retro spective criticism by those seeking the early traces of nascent talent. confi dent. its The middle section.

and many others after it. facsimiles in the We regard to Puccini's state of mind at various times of his life. he wrote down long passages of his work entirely without any accompanying text. in his impatience with his librettists. at the same time. with all the sufferings and joys of mankind. this first copyists' page. with a supreme disregard for the and engravers' eyesight. but was a thoroughly impulsive. in spite initial of the is success of the a first performance. afterwards fitting it to his characters again until they emerged from the pattern constructed in his dreams and became breathing human creatures. even before he knew prototype existed within anything at all about Mimi. which reveal . and thrown on the paper awry. and Rodolfo. neatly written notes and the laborious clearness of the verbal indica tions enable us to draw the most interesting conclusions with artist's script. and that there existence is not even printed score in it of this production. which is merely biographical point of view. inked all in again. But. urged on by the com pelling atmosphere of the dramatic situation. of bold experiment. often had to He break the tissue of his work. allow us one of those fleeting and fascinating glances at the musician while at work. and we can now understand how it was that. was never heard again in the concert hall. audacious work. who never worked fast enough for him. careful. is interesting both from the psychological point of view and from that of the reproduce the first page of it among the present work. full of happy inspirations and. came into his hands. from another motive than that of Penelope. Its Musetta. and the stiff. It is a remarkable fact that the symphonic Ca$riccio> which had nothing overwhelming or of the nature of a certainly revelation about it. crowded together.co GIACOMO PUCCINI first romance his soul. likewise preserved at Torre del Lago. erased. and then demanded that his literary collaborators should subsequently fit beautiful verses to what he had already written. when we compare them with the careless notation of the later manuscripts. what is more. fascinating though from more youthful than the The manuscript.

suggests the same thing. indeed. He was deterred by the very thing that now forms such a fascinating incentive to as to do this : by the fact. too. whereas the have almost shaky writing. the young maestro is not yet altogether sure of having achieved the brilliant colouring that he desired. would hardly enough opening passage brilliant: the hastily added direc tion that triangle and cymbals are to be used. that the principal motive was ncorporated in La Boh^me^ together with other anticipations )f the later work. are already The outlines of his artistic personality are present in the germ. and before very long its essential charac teristics received their final stamp.LAST HEIR TO A MUSICAL TRADITION so p much about his nature as a creative artist. and all the other 'special signs' that are Puccini's most important identification marks. reveal much the fondness for secondary chords. His predilection for frank consecutive fifths and the subtle introduction of dissonances to form a transition. it could easily been included on one of the vacant lines. already established. that is. below the double-bass part. Had this been intended from the first. if only in order to evoke the memory of a turningpoint in the Master's life and work. It is Puccini's own fault. he adds yet another one for the cornet in unison with the principal theme played by the rest of the feeling his way. lines above. this particular does not Unfortunately page of his characteristically individual harmony. and all this scrupulous detail tells of an artist to this addition is in itself suggest doubt and hesitation. in spite of the well-marked character of the music heard by his inner ear. not the only sign that he could do But make this who intends thoroughly to deserve the fortune brought him by this happy hour. far paler and less resolute than that on the brass. which seems to be symptomatic of his nature as early as already this work. the addition of notes ex traneous to the scale. among This Capriccio ought now to be rescued from oblivion. that this has never been done up to the present. and add it to the picture of him as a whole. engraved and performed. He is still and quite at the foot of the page. We can see that. It is true that he had learnt by experience .

all those who love Puccini and desire to possess him as a whole. yet in which breathe so much resolution and courage to be himself. time he had discarded all that was not adapted to his own pur poses. for the sake of this judgment. or even played. after the edition arranged for two pianos that was published shortly after the first performance had been Nobody nowadays could possibly accuse him of had such a scanty flow of invention as to be unable to having If would be a piece of false avoid borrowing from himself. and in this work not only did the spring sing in him. towards his memory if. dating from the period when he was growing to maturity. and in which his By this light yet sure hand proved itself for the first time. it was on account of this similarity between the themes may that he refused to allow this fiery youthful work to be published. with his weak nesses as well as his irresistible qualities. to his over-sensitive artistic conscience. However this for on this occasion he was hissed and abused. but he sang to the spring. were to be deprived of a work that suggests an imitation of his own manner.52 GIACOMO PUCCINI of what his beloved fellow-countrymen were capable when a phrase in one of his new operas recalled one in an earlier one. be. due piety exhausted. . and such fine inexperience and freshness of feeling.

was an opera on a subject Le Villi drawn from German legend. at least in the choruses and a few distinct numbers in Lied form. as a matter of fact. 1 (The Witch-Dancers) takes us straight into the heart of the fairy-lore of the Black Forest. following spiritually in the region of his choice. that in veterate 'verist'. a region hitherto exploited by none save German composers such as Weber. Meyer's Konversationslexikon explains that WiUs. if only because he was still too young. and by this means to capture something of the atmosphere of woodland fantasy. syncrasies of their folk colour: German TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. But. or by Fontana as Le Filli). Marschner. but also to suit the style of his music to the German folk spirit. at least. regarded as worthy of the greater damnation by the high-souled banner-bearers of idealism. formed by the a result of being deserted by faithless spirits of betrothed girls who have died as Willis (rendered lovers. the example of those works in which this fantastic folk element. dwarfs and giants. and their contemporaries. are a variety of vampire. and had not yet conceived the idea of doing as he did in later years. when he wanted to master the exotic elements in his subjects and all the distinctive idio that is. or. It seems as though Puccini had meant not only to revel in the Swabian Romanticism of the text upon which his work was based. steeping himself in so as to strike root both intellectually and folk-song. We need hardly say that he was bound to fail. as well as of a simple people in whose imagination natural events have been embodied from remotest antiquity in supernatural beings. 1 53 .CHAPTER WE IV (*LE VILI/) AN EXCURSION INTO THE LAND OF ROMANCE might almost be suspected of trying to be funny when we say that the first operatic work written by Puccini. will-o'-the-wisp-like spirits and ghostly hunts men.

though whether it was in his . of betrothed girls who unquiet spirits have been abandoned and died. did this success primitive emotions. It was due solely and wholly it to Puccini's amazing talent and the way in which music wells forth spontaneously in music though not such as is inevitably associated with the characters. His opera singers. it is unappeasable longing for a libretto he set to work on this one because he could get no other. as it were. to my knowledge. hung only. however. being as it were. had no other text been As it was. upon the events and people as upon a But what causes it to move us so strongly is the impres peg. their due colour. He would have set the very alphabet to music. or to any genuine ballad note or imaginative Least of all was it due to rendering of the moods of nature. this feeble composition contains only one character whose voice has any compelling force and spontaneous vitality and that is the young composer of six-and-twenty. producing something and convincingly real. yet. it here produces a and colourless effect.$4 racy of its GIACOMO PUCCINI native soil. As however. as compared with his chief masterpieces. or gives them. ever go beyond the frontiers of its own country. Schumann and Mendelssohn as he did of Wilhelm Hauff or of the traditional songs collected by Arnim and Brentano in Des Knaben Wunderhorn. sion it leaves upon us that it is the expression not merely of the but of an inward compulsion. nor flickering marsh-lights such his Villi are neither the as had succeeded in German forest is an Italian pineta^ his villagers are have their only in home by lonely mountain pools. with its disarming helplessness in dealing with Nor. the libretto itself. 'but are at home the chorus-girls' dressing-room and the ballet school. This is composer's intentions. as completed it. ready to his hand. this. when he first To-day. At that time. he knew living as little of Weber and Marschner. in Italy due any traditional lore by which the composer might have grasped the national characteristics of a foreign people. poor by no means dramatic in quality. for. music that simply forced its way forth from a young man who could restrain it no longer. his first Nor was the tumultuous success scored by to opera.

and. which carry us This fact is into the realm of the supernatural and legendary. I have expressed the opinion above. can be traced here. the choice was not a free one. that the choice of a libretto is a fateful act for which the composer's own nature is responsible. It was Amilcare Ponchielli who. as we have already related. who felt pained and ashamed at accepting money from his remarkably gifted. induced him to compose the libretto for Le Villi^ as well as for Puccini's next opera. in his life series between the man.EXCURSION INTO LAND OF ROMANCE fortunate for 55 him that its action chanced to be laid in the land of German legend and But was this mere chance? faery remains very questionable. immune from the workings of caprice and chance. of an organic process of development in the artist's significant nature. This stories and as librettist. and singer. In the magic circle of this symmetrical career of achievement. is set between a couple of quite a different nature. the librettist of Aida. Ghislanzoni. The of Puccini's operatic works starts with Le Villi and ends with Turandot: that is. for he loved them as a class. I think not. by turns in writing novels and short who had been employed . characterized by a spirit of everyday reality that is often positively brutal. and he took a delicate pleasure in feeding all these clever and The only illjolly but needy people. Edgar. too. his it was The higher order that. so far as Le Villi is concerned. but eccentric man. at which he entertained principally artists. was no longer available. so that the element of responsibility is certainly fateful. chosen natures. owner and landlord of a modest inn. and this affected both those who had to pay and the good-natured landlord. governs the relations excluded. feeling that arose was when the inevitable moment arrived for settling the accounts that had mounted up. after many tentative efforts. by way of variety. in a different connexion. and though. a succession of thoroughly realistic works. beginning and end are linked together as in the symbolic figure of the sacred serpent. introduced his favourite pupil to the writer Ferdinando Fontana. and marks the completion of a cycle. had now. their society was a necessity to him. and work. become the critic.

this odd creature could not be ruptcy. Had he had any idea how very much to his disadvantage his would be. and what a resounding success Puccini's music was to obtain throughout the whole world. while in Edgar '. machinemade type of libretto that is long since effete. induced to compose a libretto for Puccini.56 * GIACOMO PUCCINI colleagues'. It is hardly to be wondered at that such an excess of delicacy should have led in the end to a disastrous bank In spite of everything. he would certainly have decided otherwise. who was quite inexperienced and innocent of any sham culture. conceived a fatal respect for the merits of this and Heaven knows it was pre composition tentious enough and set everything to music exactly as he received it from this self-satisfied author who had the authority to himself. in order to make for the poverty and lifelessness of the text up for it Der Freischutz. accompanied for by furious imprecations. The subject had been Puccini himself in the course of a consultation arrogated chosen by lasting four . Perhaps. compared with whom Friedrich Kind. and so sure of his own literary in and fallibility that he was deaf to any of the sensible objections suggestions for modifying the libretto advanced by the young his unctuous composer. too. was a perfect Shake compelled him to put forth his whole strength and for by infusing music into duced for Le Villi^ and it. still For what the worthy Fontana pro more so for Edgar^ constitute very nearly the worst specimens extant of the preposterous. evidently fearing lest he might again come off rather badly from collaborating with a musician who had no means and a highly precarious future. besides which he made him so nervous by explanations that Puccini. tore school. the worthy gentleman was crassly vain and stubborn. particular. it was really fortunate Giacomo Puccini that at the very outset he happened upon such a literary colla borator as Fontana. who composed the words . But the only result probably was to refusal make him consume a few more bottles of Chianti. speare concentrate his musical powers to the utmost during that phase. beggars the most absurd productions of the TrovaIn addition to all this.

EXCURSION INTO LAND OF ROMANCE days. Not till end. unable to find in the form of whirling will-o'-the-wisps. in fact. Anna. we need hardly say. have been clouded by a fleeting shadow of remorse in moments of serious thought. passion and infatuation. having as and Anna is Roberto setting a village in the Black Forest. rest quiet in the grave. with whom him on his way. for there is a stipulation that it must be handed over to him in person. was never unto be fascinated by the legend of by their lovers and died but whose unsatisfied longings will not allow them to grief. and whose spirit may. Fontana was. compounded of human happiness and sorrow. 57 ' which also took place in Ghislanzoni's boarding-house. she able to find eternal peace in the depths of the earth. The young composer. one of them has succeeded in bewitching her own treacherous lover. and this subject. devoid of either imagination or warmth of feeling. however. though the very man scrupulous. and he has once more plighted . stirring drama. and diversified by the inter vention of natural forces embodied in uncanny forms. and lead of repose. and certainly the right one for a young musician who had already known many passing adventures of the senses. no more than a rhymed scenario. her and the chorus which. The wedding-day its approaching. well suited to an imaginative and warm hearted poet. nothing but a skilful verse-maker. who. and enticed him into the fatal dance till he rushes giddily upon his faithless men dancing to their death. was the dead girls who had been abandoned inconstant. It is. full of colour and meaning. which might have inspired a real poet with a strong. love each other and are betrothed. none but utter a prayer congratulations the head of the departing blessing upon bid farewell to him as though he were starting for its They go off to escort his betrothed. but Roberto has first to go to Mainz to receive some property that he has inherited. became in his hands no more than a set of pictures worthy of a child's story-book. has already father. Such are the outlines of this legend. perhaps. down every and the North Pole. with its rich possibilities is and weird beauty. They hover round. appeared en masse to offer calling lover.

worse. exhausted and tortured by the pangs of con science. the separate . not an accent that goes to the heart. not a single word of genuine human feeling. it or even a is a weak noteworthy work of Puccini's. they are her last indeed. GIACOMO PUCCINI remains tearfully behind. The betrayed father curses him. forest. on the contrary. the librettist has but dummies for the composer to clothe. Even the average libretto triumphs over every situation. The main action. The effect is wild dance. Wagner or Verdi would scarcely have been able to breathe life from being a figures. and the amount of music that he succeeded in drawing from this paltry trash. have already indicated that the music confines itself to expressing mere outward events. the spectral. produced nothing or adapt itself to it. there is not a single moment of strong emotion. none the less remains a notable proof into such words and and Puccini was far of talent. Roberto has fallen into the toils of a beautiful siren at girl's Mainz. reproaching him for his broken faith and blaming for her premature death. and omit the phrase between them. puppets with the mechanism of a musical The stilted phraseology of clock instead of a beating heart. and. for by the second act she is already And dead. and the ghostly voices of the Vitti^ heard in the distance. are already Roberto appears on the edge of the driven. nothing what but paper figures. and fails to grasp any of the atmosphere of the country-side or of those phases of inanimate We numbers are like a charming tissue draped round mere dummies indeed. The music does not either grow out of the action production. Far be it from me to proclaim Le Vitti to be a fine. waving him her last greetings.58 his troth. while the avenging dance of the will-o'-the-wisps draws nearer and grows more terrible. not a single character with warm blood . which rather as is. for the form of Anna floats before them. Wagner or a Verdi. But his vigorous handling of the whole subject. in any is case. whereupon he is drawn into the and that is all. is relegated to the intermezzo. collapses and dies him though one were to set down a pair of quotation marks. supernatural beings. rudimentary.

providing for the ear that which has not been revealed to the eye. indeed. not be imputed to the young maestro as a serious fault. In many places. and never speaks But this should to the soul with the force of real experience. whirling pursuit of the dancing. the audience being left to supply the necessary links in its own mind. above and amazing way through what is talent tragic consequences into relief. The librettist has taken every sort of liberty plainly with the subject. it looks as though he had tried to attempt something of the kind by approximating to the Swabian folk tunes but these are the dullest parts of the opera. Puccini meets the situation by simply composing this interlude. so to speak. without which legend remains no more than a mere story. and most spontaneously individual note is always to be heard in Le Villi when his prayer becomes an operatic pregkiera. it entirely misses the German Romantic spirit. His richest . besides which. that in throwing the real conflict and its tion. In a symphonic intermezzo consisting of two sections he represents Anna's . relegating all the exciting scenes the seduc is. the dialogue between the lovers a regular duet. All this is undeniable. And its attractiveness when their his own characteristic traits throw is greatest off the conventional and indeterminate elements that hamper them and appear with though it own well-defined outline is true that these Puccinian themes are still. and the sounds of nature and the wild. how ever. and thus restoring the defective equilibrium by a method that is. all. in their early childhood. He would not have been himself if he had 'made up' (gemacht] German music. elemental beings a sort of ballet music. the treachery girl of the lover and the death of the abandoned to the interlude between the acts. yet there is already an infinite fascination in observing how Puccini's prodigious instinct for the theatre traditional. and thus belied the Italian within him.EXCURSION INTO LAND OF ROMANCE 59 nature that soon becomes so paralysingly alive. rather that of symphony than of drama. in the sure sense merely of proportion and of the dramatically essential which enables the composer to feel in what points the librettist is deficient: keep forcing their This is shown.

her pining away for grief. which are of a Christmas card. monotonous. showing us the Black Forest in winter and the pallid dance of the ghostly Villi) floating like trails of mist among the trees covered with hoar-frost. prises nearly a fifth of the entire opera. justifiable yet.60 GIACOMO PUCCINI * : tender. Karit. in order to make his intention Puccini has resorted to the rather dubious expedient of prefixing to each of the two sections some verses in the spirit of a German folk ballad. worthy Furthermore. quite clear. to the predominates in the scene where same melody as afterwards Anna's ghost upbraids her In the second section of this intermezzo. We are even told the hardly name of the beautiful harlot of Mainz. which he intended to be recited at the performance for the purpose of relating what has happened in meantime and anticipating what is to come. and pantomime. skeleton triads hammered out in faithless lover. and the drastic way in which he could use it when The proportions of this inter necessary. wild.' . Though it remains questionable whether such effects as these are to be regarded as artistically and really dramatic devices. and driving him pitilessly to madness and death. mezzo alone show what It com importance he attached to it. as an expedient for saving the situation. Puccini has the curtain raised before the second section of the interlude. hunting. pensive sorrow. sweet peace enfold thee. we hear her companions singing their chorus pura O 1 virgo. Moreover. it is a brilliant example of Puccini's extra ordinary dramatic instinct. though even with the orchestral or pianoforte score before one's eyes one can make out what is happening. Apart from this experiment of the 1 '0 virgin spotless. who has reduced the Roberto to beggary. her death and funeral . the bass parts. requiesce in pace'. the dance of the Villi whirls in a persistent. Any Jiearty laughter would do well to read these verses. after which the legend of the Villi and Roberto's one wishing for a few minutes' expiation are related. melodrama. lashing. and is repeated almost in full in the last scene. and we are informed that Anna has died of a broken heart. the whole forming a mixture of programme music. grim beating rhythm above heavy.

of opera is barely approached. with its graceful. foreshadowing It still contains too much that is naive and timid. he spectively or to confuse them: and a composer must choose between them. and one or two phrases in the other wise somewhat stereotyped song with which Anna makes her in the first duet. which like wise the unmistakable stamp of Puccini's individual is manner. the neat waltz of the peasants. quarcio sinfonico pel solo piacere di far ballare . 1 C And this advice bore fruit.EXCURSION INTO LAND OF ROMANCE 61 intermezzo. In the quaggiu sofferse (Back bears to the vanished days)'. none the less sent him a warning not to disregard and operatic composition re principles governing symphonic for each of these two styles. though picturesque. and more in the like a direct effect in the epilogue to the act. flowery melody in C major. were: la sinfonia. Nor. the sign manual of the composer. as quoted by Fraccaroli. while the and the real his work of problem over the vocal and purely orchestral element still preponderates can understand why old Verdi. be fulfilled. and. which is afterwards treated with little greater intensity first act. L' opera e Popera. he added. did he think it a good thing to inter an opera. second part of the opera. there are few passages worthy of note in the work. apart from the motives of the inter mezzo there is little of importance save the fervent longing and concentrated grief of Roberto's canzone in B flat minor. e la sinfonia e Verdi's actual words. has its own laws. and again second when it rises from the lips shadowy. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. is none the less open to criticism. and all. merely in order to polate a symphonic passage into said. In spite of however. which already beginning. who had greeted dramatic. yet grave and the melody of the middle section. Roberto's ardent though appearance. 1 give the orchestra a chance. We Puccini cordially as the rising representative of true Italian the melody. to some extent. All the rest thin and derived from else's tradition. Among them are the short prelude. might almost be called a a future that was soon to horoscope in music. 'Per te of the dead Anna desolate lament. bear. which. e non credo che sia bello fare uno P orchestra'. might equally well be any one this first little work.

surrounded by the admiration of his relatives and fellowtownsmen. he found peace for his work. Puccini worked far more slowly and his effects far more cautiously. was com pleted in a disproportionately short time disproportionate. too. too. he was able to produce his work without difficulty. except to make fun of their sudden reverence for the returned hero. about whom he troubled very little. and with the utmost concentration and care. and knows nothing of checks and hesitations. watched over solicitously by the mother whom he had longed for so much and missed so sadly. he does not yet grasp the real difficulties involved. of responsibility increased. true understanding and stimula tion. and often. but overleaps all the obstacles that obstinately confront the mature artist. protected from all interruptions and lovingly crammed with all his favourite dishes. did not 62 .CHAPTER V INTERMEZZO MILANESE the purpose of writing Le Villi^ Giacomo Puccini had taken refuge from the senseless. which he did not have to ration so severely here as under the draconian laws of his Milanese budget. with the unconscious audacity of the legendary 'Reiter iiber den Bodensee'. the horseman who rode across the frozen Lake of Constance. and all the while consuming masses of his inevitable cigarettes. as 'Mamma Albina' called it. so that the 'operetta'. And Puccini. as his sense is. for in the future. But when an artist weighed is still young and full of unbounded confidence. that loving over-estimate of his work that no creative artist has ever found so excessive as to put him to shame or weigh upon him. noisy bustle of Milan in his home at FOR Lucca. In this atmosphere of home com fort. that as compared with after years. where.

short of money. As soon as he was everything no longer absorbed in his work. was in the habit of consuming his . On his return to Milan he resumed his former modest life. in the great city. too. he would certainly have stayed with her longer. blunt the edge of the unbearable impatience with which he awaited the result of the prize He was still per competition. and where Giacomo. in spite of his mother's tear-stained eyes. and was eager to enter for the prize competi tion for a one-act piece announced by Sonzogno. and so he went forth. the starting-point of every Italian composer's fame. and equally was the lack of anything to inspire him in the middle-class hard He longed to rejoin his com society of his little native town. should. him and his brothers and Now that he at the was no longer burdened by compulsory attendance Conservatorio. with a confi dence of success in no way impaired by the fact that he had there But nearly the last possible day for sending it in. for she Ipved work. studying operatic scores both ancient and modern.INTERMEZZO MILANESE know till 63 later all the dangers that the creative artist has to overcome. especially now that he was returning with a completed close quarters of his Milan. too. his doubts and fits of despair. he found the confinement and waited till mother's house hard to bear. Nor was this only because he now wanted to have his mute notes rendered into living sound. whose manently very name exerted a magnetic attraction over all needy musicians. combined to drive him away. But as soon as he had written the last note of the score of Le Filli^ and signed the date at the foot of it with a sigh of relief. with their eventful and adventurous panions life. him too much and was he had home. could. all of which only served to use. Had to lose this devoted far too wise to try to keep him at any idea that in the very next year he was mother. searching for a new subject for his own and all sorts of consultations. but at the Osteria dell' Ai'da. he had far more free time. was no longer anything to keep him at home. and must be that of his own. and his days were spent in making music. who worked herself to death for sisters.

64 frugal GIACOMO PUCCINI midday meal. artists habitually arousing the indignation of the their meals there. tradition never to ask for payment. or the travel bureaux and jewellers' Here every luxurious shops. while the young men follow with a pretence of unconcern the charming ladies and young who have come to show off their new dresses and hats girls for it is also a 'love parade'. but to 'chalk up' every sums had thing on the spot. and not that of venal love only. It is said to have made quite a ever dunned for payment. Some this noisiest where or other outside the tumult of the streets surges through of all Italian cities. Seductive adventures are here to be found. and causing the proprietors an almost taking wounded astonishment. or transact business and discharge various social duties. when. or sit. but here people stroll up and down. eating their meals or sipping a cup of 'special coffee' (espresso). hours of the day. connexions are . motor show rooms. protected from sun and rain. From that time of a grand seigneur in order to settle his debt. want can be satisfied. even when these infinitesimal and nobody was already swelled to quite a considerable total. while even those whose empty pocketbooks condemn them to be mere shop-gazers can enjoy all this Here. with one fine shop-window after another. forming regular glass-roofed streets. brilliantlylighted tunnels of houses run towards the four points of the compass. But his evening hours were given up to the Galleria. onward an unmistakable coolness is said to have made itself felt in the hitherto good-natured and motherly tone of the towards this uncomfortable person who would insist proprietress upon paying her. at least. caf^s. is the centre of Milanese life. bookshops. restaurants patronized by the nobility bourgeoisie. crowned by a glass cupola. that great glass-covered arcade in the shape of a cross. consisting it was the largely of soup. from whose spacious central hall. shops full of wireless apparatus or musical instruments. after the first performance of Le FUR) Puccini changed a thousand-lira note with the unconcern sensation. in the later superfluity without any temptation to envy.

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quite apart And so one's fortune. and musicians others as a meeting-place. indeed. or else he enjoyed their society in the peri patetic fashion. Among Puccini's friends at that time he had a particular affection for Pietro Mascagni. but life is an easy-going affair. his flashing eyes. was then as slender and handsome as a young god.) The young musician from Leghorn. wore cagni. powerful nose and defiant mouth. and of which they were all in could easily ordinately proud. which Mas of this band.INTERMEZZO MILANESE lightly 65 is made and painlessly severed. but for the present Small wonder that all the above all prefer this place from the fact that a regular superstition has grown up. or else somebody who should have a first prize in the lottery of life in readiness to give him. the moustache. His wild. painters. though this luxuriant ornament have been removed with an india-rubber instead of a razor. fine. like Puccini and the other musicians as a sign of mature manhood. for 'serious business life is for the future. whom lutely detested. who was five years his junior. and in whom he could not admit the existence of a single redeeming quality. as has. might have been those of some shepherd from Hymettus or some Dionysus roving through the forests. who at that time was also at work on his first opera. to the effect that the Galleria is the easiest place in which to make an easy-going affair '* young poets. Puccini too was to be found every evening in this enchanting Vanity Fair. in spite of the fact that for a time they lived he abso on friendly and neighbourly terms. for serious business is for the future. entitled Ratdiff^ and based on Heinrich Heine's execrable dramatic imitation of Byron. hoping to meet a princess. . happened to many. (The reverse was true of Ruggiero Leoncavallo. then either his friends clubbed together for him. smoking his inevitable cigarettes one after the other. boyish face and dense shock of black hair. Mean while he chattered with his companions. spirited. and if it so happened that one of the band did not possess even the forty centesimi for the glass -of punch that would serve as a pretext for sitting a good long time at a table in a cafe. and was spoilt by one detail only.

including Puccini. expiation. I do not relate these innocent. so that on the them took a simultaneous A same evening a the * the admiration of clean-shaven club' appeared in the Galleria to all. A few years later he really did possess one. Mascagni was among them. and all of offering. the dear little and embroideresses. he discovered that his Apollo-like head looked remarkably well clean-shaven. whether by way of thankremains obscure. childish doings because I con upper lip particularly worth recording. ment. though. like the others. On this occasion. and exchanged a meaning smile. and dressed so fashionably that he was a perfect dandy. but Concetta or Peppina.* soon broke their oath and once more wore this adornment on their to this fashion. tell of the this band. however. that good comradeship prevailing them among both in friendly practical jokes and in sincere interest in each other's affairs. so he remained faithful The others. But I also recall them because I seem to hear in them all something of the music of La Boheme. so touchingly affectionate so loyal and grateful for a little fun. he one good suit. criticize one another. an oblation had to be made to the gods. wearing a superior smile. they all knew the reason The little chorus girls why.66 GIACOMO PUCCINI day came. however. common to all delight in nonsense sider this habit of simple artist natures seeking relaxation in merri and the jocular pretence of taking absurd trifles seriously. at at any rate. man of fashion with extreme dignity. itself showed together. and intoxicate themselves with exuberant hopes rather than with the inferior punch. when. and if one of the circle suddenly disappeared. Their names were not yet Mimi or Musetta. smoke. for some reason or other. and even. responding to Pietro's adverse verdict with contemptuous abuse. or propitiation oath to shave it off. so complaisant. however much he might romance possessed only about the marvellous wardrobe that he had left behind him at Leghorn. abuse non-existent enemies. from the Scala. in their way. sit They would flower-girls were so charmingly easy to please. . but because I feel that this which is. drink. by the way. and if there was a in with tragedy May.

too. to disown his own felt at its But Puccini could In his em not live on the recognition of his fellow-artists. and at the end Puccini. among whom was Arrigo Boito. finale of the first part had to be repeated three times. Le Villi had been rejected ! and that he had not even obtained the meagre consolation of an honourable mention Perhaps. Milan. read Puccini's slovenly script. and once more withdrew into himself in the blackest consolation melancholy. the jury did not so much as look at the work. indeed. so he found their and encouragement rather unsatisfactory. and superior to in merit. with the active support of Ponchielli and Boito. who won but of whom nothing was ever heard afterwards. the applause It increased with every scene. Fontana conceived a plan. he managed. though he was work and the pleasure he far it from wishing success. A few hours earlier he had indignantly . Whether out of who had felt his failure a severe blow. It was all so and cried out to find expression in youthful and light-hearted. he and Puccini succeeded in making arrangements for a performance of Le Villi at the Teatro dal raise the sum and the various Verme. it was forgotten by June. if only because that they simply could not. or because he. to But at this point pity for the composer. 1894. and. attired in his coffee-coloured suit. was not very anxious to see their joint work pushed aside so ignominiously. required for getting the orchestral parts. declared years later with praiseworthy honesty that Puccini's opera was incomparably finer than his own. took place on 3ist May. which in the course of his work degenerates into absolute chaos. music. roles copied out. was tumultuously called before the curtain eighteen times. the prize. bittered frame of mind he may even have suspected that it concealed a spiteful pleasure at his failure. Zuelli.INTERMEZZO MILANESE tears 67 and farewells. the score. He was desperate. and was received with wild enthusiasm. with d'AnThe drade as the tenor. But what were learnt that his disappointment and despair when he in the prize competition. or would not. by the aid of some friends and lovers of art.

68 GIACOMO PUCCINI he did not know what was proper. By the end of the orchestral prelude the success of the was assured. those hours when the public. the rather thin passages. at first strange. and witnessed . when the new type of musical expression. is particularly unmerciful to those intoxicated with its own power. and the sign of a great and promising talent. however. or that of the men who had the fresh experience of what was at the time a first raised by the hazardous venture. as it were. and deciding once and for all. on a first hearing. as a whole. which is often so recalcitrant. has become a familiar habit. and the intrinsic merit of the work itself has asserted its full value. by that time the spoilt favourite of fortune. as the springlike bloom of a novel type of melody. thus enjoying the pleasures of a new discovery. and delights to shower honours on a new-comer. and the music which now strikes us as so feeble. The very public which. was received with unbounded enthusiasm. more than twenty years later. and who are as yet unknown. whether pleasing or startling. looking back after the dust It is sensation has cleared away. or at least surprising and provocative. the diluted. The weaknesses of the text were excused piece . infinitesi mal dose of their new quality. But with what overwhelming force this new talent and unaccustomed musical idiom must have made themselves felt. That evening. he might have appeared in pyjamas This was one of without causing any particular sensation. for the mere hint of them. on this first occasion showered laurels with exuberant enthusiasm on the composer of Le Villi^ which was shortly afterwards to be an utter fiasco at Naples. howled down ruthlessly and with the most insulting contempt Madame Butterfly^ by the same com poser. rejected the suggestion that and ought to appear in a black evening coat . stunted in its growth. and. such as are generally received with rage and contempt. to score such a brilliant success ! hard to decide whose verdict carries the greater weight: that of the retrospective judge. but he omitted to mention that this coffee-coloured suit was his only sound one. the merit of a work whose reception has been uninfluenced by extraneous factors. were indulgently forgiven.

and the un of a new phenomenon different from all that expected effect had preceded it. nor the musical idiom of these works. they or through Carmen.INTERMEZZO MILANESE its 69 victory over the style that had gone before. nor the processes of construction. and especially to Parsifal. Gramola. in the way in which the is interwoven with the drama. threadbare styles. But neither the problems of style. ma critics. . they were merely proving that they knew nothing of these things except by hear As a matter of fact. when they imagined they could detect the influence of modern theories. above all. of Richard Wagner in the style of Le Filli. to which he surrendered himself with deep emotion and rapture. yes. The a distanza immensa il x migliore dei lavori del nostri giovani maestri] '. it was not till much later that Puccini say. joined in the general chorus of enthusiasm: over the discomfiture of the unfortunate judges in they gloated the prize competition. with its noble workmanship. or. It is true that penetrated into the world of Wagner. and. too. of recent German opera. of the Corners della Sera. most. effect upon his own mode of composition. quoted by Fraccaroli. They poured scorn upon those com mittees which always confer prizes on works in the old familiar. who had passed over what had been described by a leading critic as 'the best. enormously the best among the works of our young composers (// mlgliore. perhaps through Verdi's Otello. and hailed him as the master for whom Italy had long been waiting. rising to the level of Bizet and Massenet. and they extolled Puccini's imaginative and inspired music. which possibly bear traces of having been influenced by Wagner and his principles in the mutual reaction produced any music 1 upon each other of music and words. and hesitate to recognize genius. at did so only indirectly. and in their more expressive. which was in his eyes the most sublime and consummate of all Wagner's works. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. and had not considered the composer's name worthy even of an honourable mention. whose metaphysical and symbolic element and intellectual superstructure he was quite unequipped for comprehending.

another factor was at work. youthful voices omened . and in isolated artists existing so much so. A new hope had dawned and the public saluted the master. passionate witches' song which was soon to enchant ill- both old and young. and affect its Least every part. GIACOMO PUCCINI and animated treatment of the orchestra as a running commentary on the text and an interpretation of it. that is. even when he was quite unaware of their sources. and in a musical style showing notable differences from that con secrated by routine and familiar to the public on every barrelAs yet everything in this music was undeveloped and organ. and still more so in Puccini. Scarcely had the first chord been sounded of the tender. But even in these works. when everybody became aware that the which had joined in a dirge over Italian operatic music like so many ravens had croaked too soon. as a result of which absolutely similar places. However this may be. the first had been made. as often to produce quite independently similar types of style absolutely inexplicable currents which what is out of date in manners and art. step The young composer of twenty-six had made his public dbut with a short operatic work on a subject foreign to Italian taste. of all could an artist of Puccini's subtle flair escape such influences as these. and in sweep away augurate a new epoch. modes of expression may exist in different remote from one another. the secret and mysterious relation that exists between the various phases going to make up the whole intellectual development of an age. lacked freedom. indeed. but it had none the less commanded instant attention.70 richly coloured. the symptoms of which are common to a whole quarter of the globe.

as a rule. . No doubt Not only had they were due to a mixture of all three causes. it is make them Mascagni. besides which. but all his acquaintances in both Lucca and Milan as well cordial supporters of the modest and likable composer. every one of them giving himself airs as though it were a piece of his own. too. and cordially rejoiced in his fellowtriumph indeed. having student's . which were still in a very gloomy state. though even the Maestro him self would find it hard to say now whether his tears were due to the emotion caused by the work itself. formance with greater hopes and fears than anybody else. That evening the Galleria must have been half empty. Young artists are not. he is said to have burst into tears as he pressed his friend's hand. and do not grudge a comrade the best of everything if they cannot have it tion in honour of themselves only the experiences and intrigues of an artist's self-centred and envious as they grow older life that Pietro a truth which many notable examples go to prove. was present. yet prone to envy. which exceeded all expectations. at the Teatro the whole confraternity of musicians appeared dal Verme. it is legitimate to rejoicings assume that they had come quite frankly as a voluntary claque. to joy at the composer's success. Only one spectator was missing from Giacomo Puccini's first She had looked forward to this per triumph: his mother. who beamed with gratification. or to depression at his own affairs.CHAPTER VI DAYS OF DEPRESSION ('EDGAR*) PUCCINI'S friends had gathered together from far and near for the first performance of Le Villi^ and even those living in other had come to Milan to share in this celebra parts of the country their friend Giacomo and take part in the over his success.

and. which she would have hastened her collapse. darning stockings and mending clothes while he was feverishly engaged in com position. hopes. heartfelt tears for all her hand stroking his hair in blessing. resigned smile. Possibly it was the excitement as much as anything else. to be will worn out her strength. eighteen calls. gently exultant thankfulness the sick woman must have clasped We this joyful message to her weary heart. lavishing all her affection upon them kept up chiefly for herself. All she could do was to gaze at him with her quiet. and She had never desired anything The absence of his mother. or at any rate anxiety. whom he knew praying for him fervently in her quiet room during this hour. But a performance.7a sat at GIACOMO PUCCINI her son's side for whole nights on end. Once more he could kneel next day Giacomo at her bedside. that caused. and give one last kiss to the son who had caused her great anxiety. he rushed to a telegraph office. After which all that remained for him he managed to deceive her about her own soothing and comforting assurances. escaping from the theatre while the people were still applauding tumultuously. threw a shadow of grief over this brilliant evening. and critical spent the last lira he had longed-for telegram for the night: 'Successo clamoroso pocket upon sending her the which she had been waiting through left in his superate speranze diciotto chiamate exceeding ripetuto tre volte finale all primo (Tumultuous success. first finale repeated three can imagine with what a sigh of happy relief and times)'. in . had worked for her children's sake till her little slender hands were rough. but with silent love. but still greater joy. and thank her with her love. By the was feel at her side. room while he was working. and both of them knew that it was for the last time. But it is doubtful whether condition by all his which he held out to her the prospect of a near future in which he would at last be able to take care of the convalescent and make her life brighter. for she had by power. she had fallen of joyous anticipation and ill. for he always liked to know that there was someone near and dear to him in the few days before the first loved to attend beyond anything in the world.

for no better reason than that another place has acclaimed ever. though unfortunately this time. Not that such events mean very much: it is in keeping with the irrational atmosphere pervading everything connected with the theatre. He returned to Milan and threw himself headlong into his work. and it was an injustice of fate that it performance at the Scala. By a piece of unprecedented good fortune for a raw young composer.DAYS OF DEPRESSION to 73 do was to close her loving eyes. brings a rising artist greater happiness than any other piece of good fortune in his whole life. A and so one of the fairest moments of his life jumped The experienced passed by. dimmed by many vigils. and still more the opera. It was such a moment as first of a This implied the guarantee and an should have happened to Puccini at the moment when he was deeply overshadowed by grief at his mother's death. that one town may make a point of refusing to see any merit in a piece. of the opinion that Le Vill^ which had publisher was. it was to be to a libretto by Fernando Fontana. Puccini it as a masterpiece. for joy. as well as prestige existence free from anxiety. how to let himself be upset is certain that he took . Giulio Ricordi had bought Le Vllli and also commissioned him to write a new opera that should fill a whole evening. and even abuse it and give it a bad reception. Puccini at once threw himself into the work of rewriting it. however. really at an end. which Jiad never been turned on him in anger or reproach. though this seemed to be invalidated again not long afterwards by the catastrophic failure of the piece at Naples. and conse month earlier he would have quently almost indifferent. and it by In spite of his youth. and consequently compressed into a single act. and gave him hardly any pleasure. and the its unbounded success with which the work met at Brescia in new form shortly afterwards confirmed Ricordi's judgment. been written with a view to the competition for a one-act piece. again. would have more prospect of surviving on the operatic stage in a two-act version. but Not till now was his childhood always with tenderness and love. was shrewd enough not such unfortunate incidents.

and the mysterious processes by which his work comes into being. he was himself a remarkable artist. or arriving at a true understanding of the often rather elusive workings of the artist's mind. The view that publishers. including short pianoforte pieces. like critics. trouble the public with his own artistic work.. a publisher of this type. capricious and painters are. acted as their impresario. nor need he self. for more. Ricordi and Co. what is He was well qualified to be this. what is more. their best adviser. dainty and uncommon in exquisite in taste. and. must be born with a vocation and themselves possess the creative faculty He not only published his artists' publishers. wrote a ing little number of remarkably charm character. and a bad psychologist in dealing with the and sensitive children that almost all musicians. workmanship. but he was also a friend to who is still not man widely enough held. for the Giulio was publisher must also be in a definite sense a critic. of an almost brotherly or paternal kind. Giulio Ricordi. is an exceptional pheno menon among works and them. which has a subtle compositions. marionette scenes and . under the to its curiously German-sounding pseudonym of Burgmein. but if he desires poets.74 GIACOMO PUCCINI and the best of appetites in the banquet which awaited him at Lucca after this disastrous part with great satisfaction performance. and. he will be a bad prophet with regard to the potentialities of the artist's life. divining the inner law of a work. the founder and head of the great worldfamous house of G. not himself in some sense a creator will never succeed is A in entering into the productions of others. miniatures. have a true critical insight into the real nature of a work and creator. and. He need not be a great master him or produce anything of permanent value. often no more than a page long. choice in harmony. he ought to be capable of such work himself. light pantomime music. perfectly polished in invention and piquant in their aroma and a never over-emphatic audacity almost anticipating the charm of Debussy. He was a composer with abilities far above the average. They are regular musical delicate.

whole would while acts at a time sit ranting and improvising. All were who followed his counsels. almost incredible though this may all we find a complete collection of In it. at those stormy meetings of the authors where the poet Giacosa was amiable and serene. often went far beyond mere advice and those of Puccini. appear. were grateful to him in the long run. savagely biting his nails. for this time Fontana accomplished a positively stupendous feat: he succeeded in producing an even more stupid text than the first. who was perhaps prompted by a sense of gratitude. the drama. by being what he was than if he had been merely one composer the more. in fact. the motives of which always have something of the grace of the commedia delF arte^ the languishings of Pierrot and He had literary ability. he possessed rare practical shrewdness and foresight and business ability of a high order. may have prevented him from becoming an artist of note but he did better and more lasting service to . would pour forth from his copious imagination. and it is art surprising that he should not have dissuaded the composer. and Puccini in despairing silence. a feeling for the essentials of drama. Ricordi had the decisive voice in settling the general scheme. for it belongs to the type of opera whose real . and. interest in the libretti of Verdi's operas too. During the composition of La Boheme. hand that it on the composition of In Manon Lescaut^ in which so many cooks had a is a wonder the broth was not entirely spoilt. while Luigi Illica.DAYS OF DEPRESSION 75 serenades. the coquetry of Columbine. too. those features of Italian ope ra seria which might have been supposed to be most thoroughly dead and buried. so that his in particular. The fact that. however unwillingly at first. from again an omission he collaborating with the librettist of Le Villi must surely have regretted often enough afterwards. in addition to all this. Edgar. It is all the more to be regretted that no use was made of his dramatic insight in Puccini's second opera. it was 'Sor GiulioY word that often decided the plan of many a scene5 \ many passages in both Verdi and Puccini's works modified and assumed their final form on his advice.

who is at the same time the chief female villain. see the hero going off to the war. unfortunate Puccini should never have been expected to do such a thing. is condemned to be ticketed with the name of Tigrana. as a result of which traitress to she herself is promptly led away a mom (to death). who. struck dumb by emotion. who the peasants. and. his return. to indicating that it contains the startlingly novel situation of a women. one tender and true. his only love. tralto is only lacking in appearance. his revelation of his identity and his ardent his avowal of his love for Fidelia. without discussing what is not worthy of being is The We discussed. into the contents of this piece of fussy emptiness. whole thing reader will hardly desire more details. being a mezzoI may perhaps be excused for not entering in detail soprano. in her natural chagrin. and who group themselves about him. quite seriously and without the could not fail to slightest relaxation of the performers' gravity. the heroine's rival. library we may relegate the . who could have no other name than Fidelia. while the inevitable final tableau is formed by Edgar. accompanied by exclamations of 'error!' of a lapidary simplicity from the chorus. to attend his own funeral. ends by ridding the stage of her pure and innocent. which. . We pretended death. the contralto and the baritone*. next comes the exposure of the demonic mezzo-soprano as a spy and a her country. who has remained constant and proved her fidelity to him even in death. by a conventional symbolism worthy of Nestroy's dramas. if per formed in a cabaret as a parody. the almost touching in its feeblemindedness. has thrown himself sobbing on the corpse of Fidelia. but on this occasion he was indeed to be The . who. book . pity the unhappy composer who was condemned to deal with such trash. but inconvenient competitor by stabbing her with a dagger.76 plot GIACOMO PUCCINI may best be expressed in the words: 'the tenor and the In Edgar the con soprano. and the other as fierce and man torn between two dangerous as a wild cat. to the shelf of the theatrical marked "Curiosities'. I will confine myself provoke peals of the heartiest laughter. disguised as a monk.

and on the whole this for it was beyond salvation by mere verbal remained to be seen whether the music could work the miracle. He had by now to set to work. and stopped work While he was working at Edgar^ however. He accordingly accepted the situation .down to his writing-table unless he felt himself in an inspired mood. and knew only too well what signed insensate folly it would have been to break it. and finding at once if he felt his inspiration running dry. It he condescendingly rejected them all. and he could not turn to what is the salva tion of others so afflicted. the period increasing as he reached maturity. '. took from five to seven years composing. but this was. 77 and not blamed. Every nerve would have to be strained if it was to do so. He often works. touching up and polishing his work. he found the greatest difficulty in making up his mind But he had no alternative. Every sensible proposal or reasonable objection glanced off the author's impenetrable cuirass of stubbornness and conceit. however. after all. thereby jeopardizing his whole future. problem might well have proved stimulating to a composer of such youthful and audacious energy as Puccini . . for the question was decided not by his own will. at best. and required to spend a very long time over every one of his ings. as to make was immaterial. and. alterations. a forlorn Such a hope. having to start all over again. . or Nor was this due only to the un only with great difficulty. but by necessity. release through it during such periods of lowered vitality. in spite of this. He made every effort he could to save himself from the libretto of Edgar and implored Fontana ^ far-reaching alterations. but he had little heart to deal with a libretto in which not a single word appealed to his feel For four long years he worried over the luckless Edgar though it is true that this is no proof of his antipathy for the libretto for he was always a deliberate and conscientious artist. his contract with Ricordi. by taking refuge in music. considerable periods would elapse during which ideas would not present themselves at all. libretto. he never sat . but naturally without success. Once more he was weighed down by congenial grievous depression.DAYS OF DEPRESSION pitied.

he had dearly loved. alternating with others that seemed still to have difficulty flashes of his former lovable self-confidence. He had once again resolved to enter for a for the best prize position his from competition one-act opera. but death had also torn from him his younger brother Michele. He was alone in the world. where he managed to exist with by giving piano lessons and conducting the little municipal orchestra. had been stopped. however. and from whence he wrote his friend Giacomo piteous letters on the subject of the unworthy decline in his fortunes. was quite alone. so that he felt the journeyman's toil in which he spent his days doubly shameful and degrading by contrast with the flame that burnt in him by night. for he could no The allowance longer find any means of subsistence there. Not only was his mother dead. and that they sweet. was so much older than his He other brothers and sisters that they were almost strangers to him. He Even Mascagni had long since left Milan. for the purpose of enabling him to live while he pursued his studies. he had to apply himself to his music by an effort. which this time. and had induced two writers publishing . had been announced by the house of Sonzogno. and was once more aflame with ardour. are quite comprehensible: he Both of these in moods had taken refuge com wretched everyday drudgery. too. He therefore went on tour as conductor of a light opera company. Michele had died overseas in America far from his home. whom whom the life of merry poverty had shared in their cramped student's lodgings in Milan had drawn very close to him.78 GIACOMO PUCCINI Perhaps the real significance of 'Edgar is that. Now. perhaps because he had ceased to attend the Conservatorio before he ought to have done. made him by the Count de Larderel. and the friends of his youth were scattered through various small towns in the pursuit of their various professions. and his favourite sister Romelde was It was her preparing to enter a convent. melancholy image that Puccini delineated many years later in his Suor Angelica. this time. during which he found his way to Cerignola in Apulia.

devoid of ideas. to enter into any contract with regard to it. said Mas cagni.DAYS OF DEPRESSION who were libretto 79 friends of his to construct a concise and powerful based upon a play written by the Sicilian Giovanni and made famous by Duse. But no sooner had the opera been sent to Sonzogno than Mascagni was assailed by a torturing restless ness. it contained a definite request friendly assistance: even the smallest post in Milan. It is evident. were simply unable to keep pace with the com at a white heat. where Puccini might perhaps have . Teatro dal Verme. As a rule there was only one card to send at a time. I is may add that by no means Menasci so foolish as also told it seems at first me. with a good- natured irony devoid of all animosity. but every evening the verses poser. and rouses their derision as showing the ignorance of the uninitiated. His work suddenly seemed to him a failure. and had to have the text fitted to it after The librettists wards. composed the libretto of Cavalleria in collaboration with Tar- and made a present of it to Mascagni. but this time. has often described the curious circumstances in which the opera came into being. would be his salvation. and his life in that little Apulian hole now appeared simply unbearable. The music for a scene was often in existence before the words. and he was working at his Verga My friend Guido Menasci. declining gioni-Tarzetti. buried alive as he was in a little provincial at the town even a place as double-bass player would do. instead for his Once more a letter arrived for Puccini. so that it was like a drop of water falling on a sun baked rock. that in a certain sense the ever- whether the music is prior to the words recurring question that is always being put to famous operatic or vice versa composers. sight. that a valuable self-winding watch was the only piece of gold that ever fell to the lot of the the unforeseen showers of royalties that descended in an inexhaustible stream upon both composer unselfish librettists out of all and publisher. who opera like one possessed. insignificant. then. and entirely lacking in individuality. who was drafted during the day were jotted down on postcards roughly and sent off to him. of mere lamentations.

indeed. he was quite in the dark his friend shared in his feelings. drinking-songs. and arias numbers complete in themselves and connected forming only by swift recitative. with seemed new. He then made every effort he could on his behalf. apart from a little strumming yet on the piano and playing on the double-bass. When Cavalleria was played to Ricordi. The performance Teatro Costanzi. There was no vacancy for a double-bass in any of the orchestras. and. Puccini's prompt reply to this despairing appeal was to summon Mascagni to Milan at once. it made no very strong im pression upon him. that this peasant drama with its thrillingly realistic in which the popular note. besides which. As to Sonzogno's prize. con centrated dramas. with praying choruses. with regard to his own talent. His letter is the wail of a desperate man. which mercifully did not form a whole evening's entertainment. lightning flash. Rome. refreshingly popular. Mascagni was utterly disheartened and at a loss. But now the result of the competition broke upon the world like a Cavalleria Rusticana had won the prize. But a lasting international success at the was also inaugurated. the . tersely constructed scenes succeed delirious notice one another with sensation after sensation. he had no hope of it. that epidemic of sanguinary one-act operas. Great. On iyth May 1890 the epoch of 'verism' was inaugurated in Italian opera. was his distress. and the name of Pietro Mascagni. stabbings and shootings. and free from highflown pathos even in its most vehement moments. To the audience its it all prelude. -natural. and At that time there were as no cabarets or cinemas. and the originality of the novel idea of the serenade sung before. the young musician had learnt nothing. had been set to music like that of a good old-fashioned opera.8o GIACOMO PUCCINI some influence. was on everybody's lips. but without success. But this music was instinct with young and unimpaired strength. and he rejected the work on behalf of his firm. was received with a tumult of Nor did the public delight and frantic applause. the hitherto unknown young composer of twenty-seven. till they rush upon the final catastrophe.

THE VILLA AT VIAREGGIO THE VILLA AT TORRE DEL LAGO .

.

The show of applause which the work managed to command at its first performance on 2ist April 1889 at the Scakj Milan. Yet he might have had some cause to weep on this occasion. even Puccini himself. in II piccolo Marat and. could cause no illusion . for in Massuccess of his first work. and for the moment he was thrown into the shade. whose strange. do anything to change the situation. and that the final and permanent triumph was But a long time was to elapse first. formance had gone sequences of notes anticipate much of the delicate colour of Madame Butterfly he produced music that was far more out of and rich in invention than in his Sicilian peasant tragedy. which eclipsed all rivals on its first triumphal progress round the world. could have had no idea that he would have the laugh on his side in the end. which strikes the note of the whole tragedy. Nor could Edgar. which he had meanwhile completed. above cagni's later operas in Iris. subtly vibrant harmony and exotic all. while the Intermezzo had to be repeated several times. and the off. or one that pro duced the same forceful impression by virtue of the popular customs it represented and the atmosphere of its home-land with which it was filled. is constantly being confirmed. reserved for his own work. and the tempests of applause at the end lasted almost as long as the whole opera. for all his inward certainty of his vocation. determines the atmosphere of the whole performance. and obscured the fame of all other operas for the next few years even those of young Mascagni himself. He never again had the good fortune to find a libretto with so much dramatic effectiveness and power of conviction. for the Cavalleria mania threw all that approached it into the shade.DAYS OF DEPRESSION rise 81 of the curtain. and he had to pay dearly for the enormous This was quite unjust. friend's destiny. He who the ordinary ' laughs best laughs to the last'. for instance. Puccini was frankly overjoyed at this turning-point in his brilliant way in which the first per But he had more self-command than the gentle Mascagni had had at the first performance of Le Filli^ for he was not seen to shed tears. Though the truth of Nietzsche's mot.

we are amazed at its wealth of ideas. The rehearsals had already been a torture to him. But for all that. apart from the insipid text. last but not least. the variety of rhythm. one of the most graceful and audacious of poets. Edgar by itself. It is true that this as and. these good people were not necessarily dis If we consider the music of sembling. had provided the suggestion for this confused production of a commonplace rhymester by his short drama La coupe et ks levres ('Twixt Cup public received Puccini with every honour. for even those scenes which had stirred him while he was working on them. the vigour of the soaring melodies. and called the composer re peatedly before the curtain. expressive of discontent. the piquancy of the pungent harmonies. and into which he had hoped of his to infuse some of the passion and to own nature. at the almost astounding degree to which the composer has asserted his artistic in such a independence. When the singers and the members of the orchestra spoke enthusiastically of the beauties of his music to the obviously dejected composer. but neither the loud applause nor the congratulations of the friends who crowded round him could deceive him and his own inward consciousness. bloodless and lacking in sincerity. vigorously applauded the music. and with which he had wrestled so hard. which contained nothing to suggest that Alfred de Musset. viously sprung into . and tends to be drowned the massive tone of the brass by growth though in the heat of early summer. Even in these early years and Lip). dejection and resignation. the personal idiosyncrasies of colour shown in the blend of instrumental timbre which at times only is a little too crude. he merely responded with a shrug of the shoulders.82 GIACOMO PUCCINI with regard to the artificiality and lack of vitality of this work. The he was not a self-deceiver. Between Le Filli and Edgar he had advanced by leaps and bounds. way that all that was pre latent in him has and blossomed. he could not arrive at any satis factory relation with his own composition. By this time he felt what was almost an antipathy for the work over which he had spent nearly four years of his life. now seemed him sincerity alien to his true self.

then referred to their key by the addition of the tonic and the fifth. plaintively humble song is effectively set off by Tigrana's cold irony all these passages are simply effer vescing with talent. her toy whom she has cast off. *O soave visione (O entrancing vision)'. so that it may advance with light and dancing step. his duet with . and it is frequently successful. nerve-exasperating monotony and the unusual of the augmented fourth. and already show a decided individuality. like Gretchen in Faust's vision at the end of the Watyurgisnacht^ to advance mit geschlossenen Fiissen (with dragging forced own its fettered). almost every page of the score. may be regarded as the original germ of the similar contrast in the church scene at the end of the first act of Tosca followed by her stinging. and even repugnant to gait. shaking off the leaden trance that paralyses its limbs. In the neat workmanship of the songs sung by the pious con in gregation Puccini shows what he had learnt at the organ Lucca about the composition of church music. bears the unmistakable stamp of the composer of La Boheme> with its use persistent. while Edgar's canzone.DAYS OF DEPRESSION music still 83 seems. like some hypnotized person to carry out a task entirely by suggestion opposed to his it. characteristic We phrase by way of overture. are such as might occur in any of This constant repetition of a figure Puccini's later operas. as though the capricious vagaries of the text. formed of the notes of the common chord. contemptuous accents in the dialogue with Frank. and whose imploring. above which runs an insistent accompaniment of scale passages on the strings which forms part of the theme. seductiveness of the words in which the courtesan voluptuous addresses Edgar to an accompaniment of soft strains on the entrance. Fidelia's innocent $astorale\ Tigrana's accompanied by feverishly agitated tremoli on the the strings and the wild. rushing energy of the cello motive. first unaccompanied. yet it rebels and tries to find way according to its own laws. The introductory bars at once. at the can trace this effort on dictates of its own native grace. with their terse. organ which. The music has to obey nature. free and with wakening consciousness.

interpolated roulades and trills. which requires to be sung with the soul. to unbridled fury.84 GIACOMO PUCCINI act. It is notable that there is an almost entire line. clearly demonstrates the fundamental difference between their two natures. to florid sincere craving for effect of the operatic star change so much as a single note of it. which occur here for the first and last time in Puccini's work. Edgar^ in . and the vehe ment. insistent accentuation. to see It is. finds no place in this music. or venture to indulge in interpolations to be more 'effective'. almost ineradicable caprice and in orchestral tissue. The old formal divisions of the Italian aria. moreover. and not with the throat only. constantly working up higher and absence of recitatives. but also the warm. striking which Puccini follows the manner of Verdi more closely than he ever did either before or since. singable quality and suppleness of his melodic curve. though the latter (It is I it is Lei ha da cantare ci6 che ho scritto who was already famous. because he had ventured to interpolate a dashing flourish into an aria in Un Balk in Maschera and im pertinences of this sort on the part of singers never failed to . claiming write the music. the pulsitfg with ardent vitality and act. impetuous choral ensemble in unison in the heartfelt. such as the stretta and cabaletta^ are dispensed with 3 while that mere virtuosity on the part of the singers. 'Son' io che f6 la musica. which are here absorbed into the melodic element. and Puccini's entire independence of the older this how very opera. if the insolent. whose vanity and attempts at brilliance. and. first Tigrana in the second sparkling with fire. indeed. sometimes rising almost into a shriek. and given the dramatic accompaniment of a symphonic Another thing worthy of note is the tendency passages in Fidelia's part. still indulged in perfect orgies even in Verdi. vibrant accents of Fidelia's over the bier of the lover whom she believes to be dead. its most essential character. and at once loses its sincerity. song and even the great. for you to sing what I have written)'. already show the characteristically Puccinian rising higher. in the form of ornate cadenzas. rouse Puccini. too. as the fierce old Verdi once shouted out at a rehearsal to Battistini.

wearing that suffering expression. * TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. Puccini.' 1 In accordance with which sentiments. that 'faccia povera' which Puccini's children so often noticed. he did disown Edgar. 'Ci vuole un soggetto che non le panzane'. according to Fraccaroli. Puccini did not disown his Le did his Rienzi. as it were. Vitti. in which he recalls his first conscience. inexhaustible in his and Not that the difference is power inspiration. his victorious rival on that occasion. A work without any long time before this he had referred to his second opera as 'warmed-up pottage (minestra riscaldata}\ and he was almost 'What is wanted. 'is a subject that palpitates with life and is convincing and not inflated nonsense. he said. and he threw aside as dead. soaring rush and its lavish pro seldom touches the heart as does that of fusion. Verdi's melody. impact. .' glad at its lack of success. though the latter was incomparably the greater and richer genius. and certainly marked by a greater than that economy of Verdi. Verdi's melody loves. in their own father. but after this it failed to it make at all a lasting impression. Puccini's actual words. The Maestro gave this hybrid Italy type of opera one more trial when he produced it at Buenos Aires in a revised version. and often seems to is more tender. its fiery.DAYS OF DEPRESSION 85 master. nervous. to parade in period costumes. with such tender grief. were palpiti e ci si crede. to the always disadvantage of the younger For all its torpedo-like composer. Thirty years after any more than Wagner composing it he wrote some regrets or qualms of jesting verses to Zuelli. more keenly sensitive. while Puccini's goes thinly clad. which and genuinely human. with its sombre glow. Edgar never found a permanent home on the stage either in or abroad. ' ' shiver with cold.

the break of day. 86 . humanity. luxurious dweller in great cities. has no affinity with the country-side. but. but never 'that of nature. a horror of life in large towns. or the dreamy. He away and seeking refuge in little villages was always slipping in the country. this composer. sentimental. he becomes a tone-painter. the nature's mystery. what we hear consists chiefly in the sounds of nature and their reaction on the human mind. and anything but simple. was as though he felt a secret dread of losing his real nature amid the vortex of town life. we hear in it the music of And when. rather than This music knows nothing of cosmic pheno mena. in the long and ugliness of have felt their stuffy run he simply could not the open-air life live in town. and sacrificing those qualities that were peculiarly his own. more than this. inclined to worry. that he should have been unable to It is quite comprehensible the noise work amid their bustling commercialism. had. starlit nights of the Far East. But here we come another discrepancy. where he could find himself once whether in composition. It more. whose music seems to be the product of an over-cultivated. for his music reflected none of upon yet this Puccini's world of music delight in open air and sunshine. the patter of the rain.CHAPTER VII IDYLLIC SCENES (*MANON LESCAUT*) BY an odd discrepancy in Giacomo Puccini's nature both as man and artist. and houses and the crowded promiscuity of life in the stony wastes of streets and squares to be soul-destroying and a death to all atmosphere. shooting or pure relaxation. and reproduce their image in music. on occasion. as a matter of fact. amid of nature. remote from nature. desolate wintry wastes. the procession of the clouds. and tries to catch the atmosphere of a particular region.

tinkling cow-bells. and preserved its dignity by very reason of all that he renounced. all the death-like quality of the winter landscape. voluptuous voices. opening of the This is a picture Similarly. for he proves himself equally capable of the other beginning of II Tabarro. resonant motive previous act were dead and covered with of the human soul. the love-duet at the end of the than a first act of Butterfly does not aspire to be its any more its symphony of the throbbing Japanese night. though the exuberant. like the music of Wagner or Richard Strauss. sharp. in his own fashion. what he depicts is not so much of the falling snow. and is in no sense a song of dawn. the hush that falls over the working day. in the intro duction to the last act of Tosca. the freezing mist monotony that envelops all living things. possible that Puccini defined the bounds of music with greater purity. We can hear all this shivering in the light. When. with an incomparably convincing and har monious atmosphere. teach us to see by means of our ears. and not of nature. shows us the Barriere d'enfer^ the melancholy used as a symbol of love growing cold. at the ice. as heard in the cries of the toll-house keepers. what he prefers to and he does so in masterly fashion is the winter represent of the heart. at once the night descending upon Paris. the peasants. the awakening of day in Rome is simply indicated by the blended sounds of the morning bells. its heavy perfumes. and the stolid. rigid It is as pedal point of the shuddering tremoli on the cellos. the same thing might equally well be This is not an adverse criticism. contenting itself with what can be grasped by the ear. Again. the motionless branches covered with rime. heard at Capri or Taormina. and strange. 87 leaves all it these things to the scene-painter. It does not. where a single theme serves to express. and the melancholy song of the shepherd. for in at the beginning of the third act of La Boheme^ Puccini stance. It is but merely a statement of fact. with hovering fire-flies exotic fascination. dripping effect of the bare fifths on the flutes and harps above the frozen. resigned method at the . the lamplighter and those drinking in the tavern.IDYLLIC SCENES trees in the moonlight quiver of rustling .

the distant thunder of the sea. the whisper and flow of the night music in Tristan. in fact. which he missed so much when he was far away that he was positively homesick and really unhappy without them. . whether glowing with sunshine by day or full of the whispers of night the whole of his every day surroundings. throbbing with ardent longings. upon which. and of two children. for tender the company of a beautiful day affection. He needed a companion always at hand. He had at last attained a modest independence in material respects. and the wonderland of the woods. singing of the simple.88 GIACOMO PUCCINI But if weariness that reigns on board the tug on the Seine. had brought brightness and happiness into his house. or even the nocturne. as Giacomo Puccini showed himself to be in his music. longed for the cherishing warmth of a woman's presence in his every life as well. woven. out of moonbeams. He was no longer alone. a girl and a boy. with a passage that would its surging warmth and thrilling elation forest murmurs in Siegfried. and an ever-present affection and indulgent companionship such as can never be in those youthful adventures which end possible as rapidly as Till now home had been to him no they begin. he often made heavy demands. thanks to and masterful sense of his own rights. unheroic emotions of the much-tried human heart. woman and his careless her patient . and now lent his existence an object and a meaning. we think of the two sunrise scenes in Die Gotterdammerung. so that he was able to satisfy his desire for freedom of movement by leaving the town and leading a life suited to his modest wants amid the quiet and simplicity of country life. at the close of the first act in Berlioz's comic opera Benedict and Beatrice. as it were. The presence of the woman whom he loved. such a poet of love. the alone justify the revival of the selves work we cannot but ask our once more whether Puccini the musician and Puccini did not live entirely separate lives. and how it is possible that nothing should have found its way into his music of all the the man wonders of his beloved lake.understanding. He was not born to be either an ascetic or a hermit.

and to which. since habit had blunted all desires. which had so far been childless. and the legal consequences of her repute. whose life could penetrate. shadowed by long lashes. his happiness in his pitch his and work made it an island of the blest to which none of family the temptations or enmities of after all his experiences in to appearances. He had found that passing phase for which he had been seeking: an intimate bond. with no really deep bonds of union. her soft. with the same high courage. The flames closed over them. which suggested the many things it had had to leave unsaid. by bringing a loving security into his harassed existence and comforting his loneliness by her wonderful self- abnegating love. passionate affection of this beautiful young woman. with an irresistible love. and in which man and wife lived a joyless existence side by side. which swept away by the whole stable basis of everyday existence and decided the fate of two people. the world of summons he had time after time to respond. though without any mutual dislike. existence. and wore a quiet smile that had something touching about it. and knew that they were bound together till . And Puccini reciprocated the tender.IDYLLIC SCENES 89 more than a temporary abode. tent during the following years. they belonged to each other. with her delicate. whose per sonality and artistic qualities she was unable to resist. action when she left her first husband and restored to the most powerful genius of that new epoch the peace for creative work that he had lost. but now what had started as a had developed into a home. a year younger than himself. her great. the outside world. but also all antago nisms. grave profile. as though to his Just as Cosima social real Wagner had had the courage to brave evil ostracism. and the set mouth. so now. as a lightning-flash. in a marriage arranged for reasons of worldly suitability. an existence Wherever he might choose to a deuXy a refuge and peace. fair hair. he always returned unchanged. But she was united to a husband whom she did not love. This colourless existence was suddenly illuminated. sad eyes. Elvira Bonturi attached herself to the young composer.

GIACOMO PUCCINI But Elvira Bonturi was not one of those women who She confessed are capable of existing amid lies and treachery. She was both wife and existence for the future. From the very first Elvira Puccini had been esteemed by every body as the Master's rightful and worthy mate and equal. but nothing would induce him to consent to a divorce. and she accordingly resolved to take the Since her requests for the dissolution of her marriage had been repeatedly rejected. com and begged him to obtain the dissolution of their pelling bond. . to irrevocable step. had also been born shortly This was afterwards. lover. which took place after eighteen interminable years. panting like a fugitive. whether through fear that his marriage. a mere matter of form. situation to her husband. the frankly confronted him with the fact of this irrevocable. and did nothing to disturb the life of the pair who were at last united. with the intention of sharing his To the credit of Bonturi it must be said that he had the good taste not to cause an open scandal or lay claim to the child. she left her husband's house with her children and fled. Giacomo Puccini's home. and to live with him and for him. Not till after his death. but by that time she was at the end of her In the long run she found the continuance of these endurance. almost superfluous. was it possible to legitimatize this union. Tonio. this merely external bond had none the less become a necessary part of his life. She had A year therefore to make up her mind to remain with him. equivocal relations and the necessity of keeping up an un She wanted to be not only the worthy pretence unbearable. or because he really did not care to live without her. social position might suffer in consequence. or have his life upset. though it was only an outward form. concealing nothing from him. but the companion of the man of her choice. later little Fosca was born. and she had every claim to be so treated. of which a boy. what is more. Her husband refused.9o death. This wearing state of affairs lasted for four years. by both official and religious sanctions. for. and it is not altogether surprising that Elvira's renewed request for her freedom was rejected even more decidedly than the first. and.

it you may hold my were mine to command. in such situations not be taken too tragically. the jocular lament: 'And this my family life!' It goes without saying was a mere jest. who could never be persuaded to abandon the naive 'butterfly morality (SchmenerlingsmoraT}* of one who 'II giorno in cui hour'.' he would often say. lending fullness and graciousness to his life. 'fatemi il funerale (On the day when I am no longer in love. 'sips each flower and changes every non sar6 piii innamorato. are quite as easily appeased.IDYLLIC SCENES 91 mother. written beneath is it. though these things need easily roused. and the crises and marriage all it conflicts of such a union were the price that had to be paid for did to enrich his existence and raise it above the every day level. him to strangers. Yet for all that. and one that demands great tact and diplomacy in matters of the affections. funeral)'. whose almost defenceless nerves even in this reacted immoderately to every impression. which. a normal bourgeois would have been an impossibility. little proud to show anything had truth contained But the germ of into little jest against himself none the less enters To an the mosaic that goes to make up our image of him. with his head upon the ground and her foot on that this his neck. his first and last thought till the day of Intimate friends of Puccini's are familiar with a snapshot of him on his knees before his wife. yet with natures such as his. and. the woman has the harder part to play. the court of final appeal in every problem of his life. even in joke. Even if mutual forbearance and indulgence sometimes failed and there was a slight storm. easily agitated nature and inflammable temperament. the ancient German expression for a man's rightful his death. all upon my word of honour. he would add: 'If And . especially in dealing with such a wayward and childlike character as that of Giacomo Puccini. and in very deed and truth the 'honour of his house' (Hausehre. artist with Puccini's imagination. wife). friend and counsellor to him. I would make a law allowing and even that composers to take a new wife every five years. he was far too personally disparaging to such a thing been true.

has often told me how // lablo (papa) would come to her in an irritable. and I he was quite incapable of seeing that there was anything to find fault with in his own conduct. Intimate Life of Puccini) Marotti and Pagni. but shows a perfect understanding of the Maestro. and. always In all things pertaining to love he was as ingenuous as a child of nature. ostensibly only in order to try he suddenly began whether . he remained found out and forced to confess he showed the defiant con fusion and injured obstinacy of a boy who is being scolded. and similarly. should pay you back in the same coin'. and which were driving him to despair. and in all his escapades he never had the least sense have chosen the same of doing anything he would himself years. woman every five have been his dearly loved Elvira. which appeared two years has a few essentially absurd and insignificant episodes of this sort to relate. who was often placed quite helplessly and at the mercy of amorous Thus some innocently suggestion. The book Giacomo Puccini intimo (The by his friends after his death. Donna Fosca Leonardi-Puccini. but felt that he himself was being wronged if he had to endure reproaches and tears. and the incessant scenes of jealousy to which he had to submit helplessly. seems to Yet for all that.92 GIACOMO PUCCINI me moderate'. and that he might cause serious pain to his life's companion. he would burst out laughing when the young girl replied: 'If I were in mother's place. but regarded her reproaches and tears as merely idle and vexatious. not only in his shyness and embarrassment. when he was vagaries. and she would wrong or forbidden. talk was caused by the very long trips that to take in his motor-boat. of whom the Master made his chosen confidant while she was still quite a young girl. excited state and complain of the tyranny he had to endure. I should not scold you. which was always ready to change abruptly to a refractory mood. of his wife's lack of perception. but also in his view of what was permissible or not in his amorous a great boy. It never entered his head that his wife might be allowed to behave as he did. I repeat that. though taken aback for a moment.

ladies. and he was 'What informed that a lady urgently desired to speak to him. Puccini goodno objection. a really beautiful girl and her little brother but. till he was seen at Viareggio being upset from his boat in full view of everybody and saved from capsizing by a charming young lady. While he was there he stayed at one of the best hotels. The horrible to relate. he could abandon himself to the undisturbed enjoyment of his On beloved cigarettes in the quiet ease of his handsome room. if the Master would allow her. where he was besieged by admirers. he came out of his dressing-room in an elegant visiting costume. being far from averse from a humouredly He merely pleasant conversation with this attractive creature. young and charming. for he found the young lady standing before him stark naked. few minutes later. and received the order. *Una povera pazza!' (a poor madwoman) was the idea that her brother call for her raised . during which time he asked the young girl to wait She promptly consented. he was transfixed with amazement. 'Show her upP A shy knock was heard. and was only too happy when. while the brother was taking his departure. for he would return from them later and later every day. ever to move from Torre del Lago or Viareggio/ he used to say. a for him in the hall. The porter assured him that she was is she like?' he replied. the city of all others of which 'If I were Puccini spoke with the most enthusiastic delight. though he displayed a cunning worthy of a Red Indian in eluding these exhausting encounters. and reporters. she would stay with him in the meantime and let girl allayed on his way back. the Master's consternation by saying that the boy had to go to his music-lesson. and a brother and sister appeared at the door. he requested might change from his sleeping-suit into some more formal costume. 'my home would have to be in Vienna*. the boy had a roll of music in his hand. this occasion there was a ring at the telephone. but that. comfortably clad in pyjamas. always with some fresh excuse.IDYLLIC SCENES 93 he could reach the open sea through the canal that led to it from the lake. Or there was an agitating episode at Vienna. but when. that.

But the visitors' books in the little festival town do not contain the name of Giacomo Puccini. She therefore sent her companion to Puccini expressed a desire to make between the I I with the request that he would visit her in her box. whereupon the following dialogue took place: 'What do acts. my name the papers to-morrow. and come with me to the Wagners' box. 'but just excuse yourself your reasons for a few minutes. Puccini. after all. the 'If I go to her box. that this well-built man. for Donna Elvira took but little interest in German art. with his cousin'. and felt that he simply must go off to Bayreuth alone.' 'But I have already said that you are Pucci ' . But it is no easy thing merchant.' to 'You are mad!' was the will be in fire. explain!' *I quite understand. that it would be better not to do so. of Milan. sitting She eagerly sight of the Maestro and pointed him out to her. to preserve one's incognito in Bayreuth it so happened that an with Frau Cosima in her box. with his frank. and for a moment he hesitated whether to ring the bell or not.' to be in Bayreuth!' 'Hold your tongue! am 'Ah.' replied his friend. without danger to oppose the will of a lunatic and he decided It was no wonder. you must have your joke!' The composer began annoyed: 'Listen! I must preserve my for reasons that it would be tiresome to incognito here. and commit the poor creature to the But next he reflected that. handsome. who was absolutely idolized till inordinately fiSted all over the world. The one at the hotel where he stayed merely has an entry: 'Archimede Rossi. not Puccini. which pleased her. naturally. then. by the women.94 flashed GIACOMO PUCCINI through his mind. caught acquaintance. . for the sight of a famous Italian operatic composer at Parsifal was a notable one. tanned Italian face. One day he was overcome a longing to hear Parsifal. see? You. reply. who thronged round was him he had no need to seek adventures. for which he had a passionate by enthusiasm. for they positively rushed into his arms of their own accord. Frau Cosima wishes to make your acquaintance. his acquaintance. and that I am some all body else. and then the fat will be in Say that you have made a mistake. it was not servants' care.

have known her great child. whether hot-blooded or coy. would bourgeois prudery have been unworthy of mention. remains unknown. which had long been on their proscription-list. provocative or reserved. and in every spiritual sense. But she had suffered too much in her life be able to retain her confidence in the power of con A poet with much experience of love has quering serenity. and known that must. if she had taken things more lightly and in silence. 'I am Archimede Rossi. generous or possessive. he would never have been capable of creating either Manon. after all. A Whether Frau Cosima's messenger double ? Yes. pleased when she heard of such nothing could make her lose him.IDYLLIC SCENES 7 95 'You infernal ass! hissed the Uaestro into his ear. they throw light upon the Master's music. Giacomo Puccini remained true to the woman whom he always All these insignificant episodes. merchant and WagnerianP *I see. were it continued to love. who had no sense of had yet another pretext for contemptuously dismissing humour. or pretended ' * whether he confessed the truth. Mimi. such as he was. Had it not been for his encounters with all these women. to ' said that The true and only fidelity consists in always returning to the same woman' and in this. while a sensitive amorist. gay or melancholy. or Musetta. which only and hypocrisy could judge severely. the frivolous Puccini and doubly underlining his name.' that he had been dreaming or had seen a ghost. a double. It can well be understood that Donna Elvira was not precisely little comedies as this. and Frau Cosima's woman's heart surely understood and forgave with a smile. though were of no importance and were soon forgotten. not that. is simply defenceless against the attacks of charming femininity. essentially they Perhaps it would have been better. and it would certainly have been wiser. ChoCho-San or Turandot. but the last alternative is the most probable. But after this the straiter sect of the Wagnerians. or at least passed them over with indulgent forgiveness. and any reference to them would be no more nor less than prying indiscretion. She after all. and giving such true and convincing .

the great artist of small things. and written. and the other a gay. 1 It is hardly surprising that he could find no satisfaction in things of this sort. plaintive memorials to a dead friend. (r. spruce marcetta brillante entitled Scozza elettrice. but no very characteristically Puccinian traits. The song-like Malinconia (Melancholy). But no operatic subject was forthcoming to make him fruitful. though it does not exactly carry one away. their constant or their nor could he ever have come to love. after the completion of La Boheme. with the languid grace of its melody. than in its rhythm. haughty ^ be the most popular poet of feminine charm and tenderness. though he needed one as the dry earth needs the warm summer rains. In one of his letters. scrappy productions of merely incidental interest. Avanfi! (Onwards!). and envied the composers of symphonies of the accursed librettists. After Edgar Puccini was silent for a while. 1896. for he could never write down mere notes.96 GIACOMO cruelty. such as he was. four small already mentioned. in minor. and has more energy in its title. brilliant. and not even fragments left over from his delicate. printed in the Epistolario (ed. or else remain mute. but had to hear music sounding within But he found these pauses in his him. entitled / Crisantemi Amedeo Nora. one dating from September D (Chrysanthemums). at best. which has an animated movement. curiously enough. pieces. in which the electric shocks promised in lead to a lively dislocation and the^title breaking up of thematic material that is not We have also very distinctive in itself. work hard their was prepared to make itself heard. besides two other marches. was written later. . feeling them to be. dates from June 1 88 1. musical expression to their ^eretricious charms. without whom independence an exclusively dramatic composer. was like a fish out of water. During such times as these he attempted several times to down smaller pieces when the inner voice jot to bear. His Inno a Roma (Hymn to which we have Rome). a work in the style of a fiery festival march with vocal parts. ^TRANSLATOR'S Adami) Puccini says that they were written on the occasion of the death of of Savoy.

but with tion of seductive womanhood. It now remained to find a subject that should lend him wings and set free all that was best in him. Puccini was well aware of all this at an early age. to the of making its no subject for an opera that has not first taken root in the very soul of the composer. with its tender dalliance. because it failed to appeal to his heart. his dramatic insight was extraordinarily acute. really in search of an opera that the Abbe Provost's novel should Now. It often cry. and graceful to flutter from heedless to beribboned gallantry. not with a living woman. possessed the strength weary of proclaiming that it power pantomime without preliminary explanation. playful. for he consumed it to His ill-luck knew that love. only to all of a sudden that the flame of his enthusiasm had ashes. happened. in connexion with had not Edgar discouraged he had made progress. too. free morals. not another one which he would have to force himself to treat. and played a large and determining part in framing the libretto. Once again he fell in powers. so that it would be a violent strain on his This time he was fortunate. At last Puccini had. for the first time. and the human sympathy and fellowfeeling inspired by its content. ready happiness into his hands. whole rococo world. which he was once more to call to life in his strains. yet Manon. chosen his own subject. him.IDYLLIC SCENES his 97 'My kingdom for an operatic libretto!' operatic music. Hence for the first time he was able to direct his efforts towards a coherent unity and create a work imbued with his most essential qualities. like some Fragonard griefs the or Lancret of music. for the first time. light. comique when fate willed fall He it was capable of love. that he thought he was had discover discovered one. which are the true fosteringground of music. the incarna yet capable of passion. is really capable of lasting quite apart from the other requirements that are indispensable: the meaning clear through . with the result that I am never necessary for sijrvival. he found himself in that sphere of noble sentimentality. equally ready for the rites of love and for dagger-thrusts. and was fired with enthusiasm for it.

Possibly he lacked confidence to give his subject poetic form himself. not to speak of his skill in eliminating all that was merely stagy and tasteless. by music. of course. though there is. did not precisely result in the whole organism and strengthening preserving the beauty which it was naturally destined to possess. Puccini was not in the least worried by the fact that the same subject had been used for an opera with extraordinary success by Jules Massenet. as well. . And apropos of this. to discover. no comparison between Puccini and Beetas the very man though most . fitted all. sorrow of his harassed who could hardly ever fall in with the exacting composer's stubborn objections. in his Pakstrina. vigorous terseness and the inexorable extirpation of all that was superfluous. dismembered. Somewhat like the author of the original work. which a dangerously large number of surgeons took part. But there were other reasons for this. lyrical ability too. the unfortunate Abbe Provost. who experienced the hideous fate of being dissected while he was still alive. prede cessor. perhaps though of might at least have learnt from the prolific and one of distinction and genuine Or he example Arrigo Boito. whose follower he is regarded by many people. The Manon story of the vicissitudes through which the libretto for Lescaut passed is a curious one. after has been kept alive chiefly the of Puccini's . just as Dittersdorf was the precursor of Beethoven. the idea simply did not occur to Puccini.98 GIACOMO PUCCINI librettists. in its life has been rather an artificial magic philtre one and the operation. and together in various ways over and over again and if. it the libretto was cut to pieces. he often wrote really poetical verses. Pfitzner did after going through many unfortunate experiences of the attempts made by other writers to produce libretti. and a comparison of his librettists' drafts with the final version which he himself original imposed upon them proves how strong was his talent for effective stage grouping. a member of his immediate circle. as Hans in jest or in earnest. that only best he himself was his own poet. it remains simply incomprehensible why Puccini did not become whether his own librettist. Massenet was merely his unjustifiably.

with the exception of of Massenet's opera. for the many writers who collaborated in the libretto. by Watteau is and they are as little comparable as a picture with a volume of sickly gift-book poetry. and among whom were the dramatists Marco Praga and Giuseppe Giacosa. and in which the flight of the young couple. and relegating to the intermezzo the really essential events represented in the body The result is that. have succeeded in avoiding too marked a similarity between the two operatic libretti by the novel. and Puccini himself. can quite written seven years before his own. Des Grieux and Manon. nothing is left of all the scenes in which Manon appears as the lover. which was left with French opera. for of the opera. 99 knew Before writing a single note of his work the Maestro that he need hardly fear comparison with Massenet. in the long run Puccini had no cause to fear for his own opera. simple device of enacting upon the stage the events taking place . who has a good heart and is the first act. In the attraction that Massenet's work still continues to spite of exert in a few places. and. was based. which follows very much the same lines in both works. Giulio Ricordi. the Manon who renounces splendour unfaithful only reluctantly and money for the sake of her love. is none the less permanently attached to her Des . relation to that of the Frenchman as bright red blood does to insipid perfume. not to speak of the original figure in the Nor was it to be expected that it should. followed by Domenico Oliva. though as fickle as a butterfly. but it was greatly to the detriment of its title role. We understand it is why this principle none the less regrettable. and especially hardly any of the hovering grace. supplementing one another in rotation.between the acts of Massenet's work. the fascinating frivolity and lovable candour of the Manon in the was consistently carried out. but he had the weightiest reasons for avoiding all resemblance to the text upon which the other one. and for Puccini's opera stands in somewhat the same rightly so.IDYLLIC SCENES hoven. the little enchantress. the almost innocent corrup tion. together with a few more or less unknown assistants. to Paris forms a sort of prologue to the whole action.

and to attach more importance to collecting all her jewels in a hurry than to escaping with him in time. measured gait and the graceful. but a number of energetic lovers. a soft bloom like that on a butterfly's wing. and through which gleams a brightness as of spring. who seems. as it were. And 'the rest' is made up of the music of love and longing. Unlike Provost's Manon. and not even in a very pleasing one. other hand. the music of . preferring to remain with old Geronte. as it were. instead of is. with a soft brilliance and a youthful impulsive on which there lies. as it were. almost surprised when but such a passive lover that we are she chooses to follow him.ioo GIACOMO PUCCINI In Puccini's work. If it is a fault to overload the subject with music that is to offend the artistic unity between words and music. During the composition of this libretto. who and generous. deliberately to work herself into an almost feverishly exaggerated passion for her lover. on the Grieux in the depths of her heart. Manon Lescaut overflows with genuine music. and three or four numbers with a dainty. to wear powdered hair and patches. to shed the silvery light of the rococo epoch over all the rest. the too numerous collaborators seem to have taken desert fail it turns gradually to strip this Manon of one attractive quality after another. after all. which is for ever young and belongs to no age. courtly bows and curtsies of the age of gallantry. and this is a pity. with the result that her ultimate deportation and wretched death in the American to stir us very deeply. for Manon Lescaut is perhaps the richest in inspiration of all Puccini's works. chivalrous All this will always prejudice the work in the eyes of the public. leaving her a mere shadow. but afterwards turns into a bored coquette with a passion for dress and money. It has a few themes which seem. which is against undoubtedly a fault it must be admitted that the composer has offended against this unity. Puccini's heroine has a number of fathers. who had only one father. though possibly this is to the detriment of the dramatic element in it. she is at first no more than a little provincial simple ton. and these amply suffice ness.

ten years he would have made two or three operas out of the musical Let those who choose find fault material in Manon Lescaut. it is an irresistible delight to allow this cataract of like a It melody to pour over one. that has wearied of the mannered repose of its graceful. in which he would have aimed at expressing in music only the lively and . so that the composer resembles that king who used to have his guests smothered in flowers. but for the most part filled with a natural ardour. till we almost see the capricious image of a dark-haired young lady of the rococo period. patrimony. brilliant movement of This the allegro brillante with head on high and flashing eyes. tossing her white perruque laughingly into liberally sprinkled. Not till later did Puccini learn to be less profuse. throbbing with life and the joyous magic of One inspiration follows hard upon another. and almost smothering it.IDYLLIC SCENES 101 overweening hope and disconsolate grief. the joyous syncopated accompaniment that adds precision to its rhythm. the air. and now flings itself into the light. and the piece is almost and overfull. is full of the de vivre. crowd the senses. later with a defect that consists in over-abundant wealth and a pleni tude that has no need to be parsimonious. the accustomed symmetry theme purest joie of the eight-bar phrase being prolonged by a rhythmic exten sion into a curious eleven-bar phrase. and further heightened to a perfect abandonment of gaiety by the wayward elegance and variety with which the motives are developed. garden starts in the very first bar of the short introduction that ushers in the opening scene. still with a frequent flourishes and perfervid sprinkling of the suddenly interpolated characteristic of the often artificial and laboured ejaculations modern Italian operatic phrase. It is with an unending profusion of bloom. and the ornaments and varied accentuation with which it is heightened to unrestrained gaiety. and to observe a due economy and balance in the distribution of his musical ing upon it too compressed In this opera he spends himself lavishly. and we are reminded that Puccini had at first intended to write an opera comique on the subject of Manon. dignified gait. this is like a supple minuet.

while the motive of the orchestral prelude gradually dominates the scene and swells into a chorus scene is full ofjoie de rnvre^ over which floats a supple tenor voice. The graceful in B flat that accompanies Manon's pastorale entry is not only a short. the heart-felt theme of which becomes the most The following important symbol of love in the whole work. which then develops into the finale of the act in a broad. inexperienced. Renato des Grieux c to the love-motive. wards that. instead of treating a series of light episodes from Manon's life. All of these motives are quite slight and sweet. he found himself forced to choose the method of contrasting these with the gloomy close of her frivolous existence. upon which the kindly young deities of spring have lightly scattered little flowers and leaves. Puccini's tenderly development cantilena swells forth for the first time exalted. melodious parlando style. charming girl from the small provincial town. scenes flit past in a fluent. morning atmosphere. which pervades the whole of They and only once falls silent in this first scene. as it were. while four girls' soprano voices. rather than tragic. which is one of Puccini's most charming inspirations. hitherto heard only in passing. which is afterwards interwoven with Des Grieux's aria. but are . celebrating the fleeting hours of happiness spent in light loves.with all . Young people are singing and loitering about. and filled with the breath of May. ardently pulsing the passionate rubato of its vehement accents in Des Grieux's song. accompany the love-motive played by the orchestra. swaying chorus. when strikes up his madrigal. pleasing ensemble number. animated fire works of the introductory music. a melody with which we cannot but fall in love. in a thematic that is full of significance. insinuate themselves. ingratiatingly into the whole. The whole of the first of this sunny. which is dreary. like the twitter of swallows.io2 GIACOMO PUCCINI It was only after diverting side of this light-hearted world. and merge once more into the sparkling. as it flutters like a rosy garland in some picture. Manon Lescaut mi chiamo (Manon Lescaut they call me)'. Her next motive. is combined with an allusion the first act. but at the same time sketches the portrait of the simple.

the bright. consisting in the marshalling of a whole series of short phrases and disjointed scraps of melody one after the other. some . in the first two scenes. is more im pressionistic and rhapsodic than that of this opera. In the dialogue between the lovers can be heard whispers and murmurs of mortal dread and awakening desire. from which sonal air. pastoral. the act closes with a song of youth. and sometimes purposeless repetitions of themes and fluctuations of tempo. into and though the suave. with its incessant.IDYLLIC SCENES 103 always firmly based upon the orchestral accompaniment. which forms a background. did he raise such a solidly constructed and well-articulated structure as in this act of Manon. between Next. perhaps. sharp contours and rhythmical variety. oboe-like amoroso melody which it overflows is like an echo from the peaceful realms of childhood. at least. till. a fatal passion. is more architectural. there springs. slight In colour and full of agility and Irlo^ for the conversational recitative which only occasionally combines with the instrumental melody. be 'unfair to deny that Massenet's historical would. spring-like melody of the madrigal sung by the chorus. like a flame. rounded unity than this one. for in his later works his method was more mosaic-like. being. till it breaks forth abruptly and bursts into a blaze as the two young people of buffoonery flee together. like a rustic lullaby. who had meant to carry off the fair Manon himself. at first merely glowing and smouldering beneath the surface of shy hopes and timid. like Manon steps forth with an almost imper It allegorical figure in a rococo painting. the second act has points that anticipate the delightful lever scene in Der RosenkavaKer^ and is full of It is a delicious period study in a golden Boucher-like colour. as Puccini never wrote love. a sort of manifesto of light an act with a more perfect and wellit at first in unison. dawning attraction. however. baffled old Geronte. restless change of time and key a method which. were. the treatment of which. with a constant. with its clear. yet out of this melody. The beginning of frame. in Turandot. Never again. after the rapid passage Manon's drunken brother and the furious. like a warning hint of future menace.

and so is the art between the Lescaut brother and sister. not lemonade. in But Puccini is the more the heritage of birth and culture. The in Puccini's work either. who has . but works up to a fever of interest. similarly. though the latter is superior to him in intelligence Yet there is or rather. of the two. but he is conscious of those spiritual overtones and simple human emotions which have remained unchanged from of old. the suggestive of his hero sensuous sweetness and abandonment. and so succeeds in and vigorous richly endowed marks an advance on Massenet. in sprightliness of wit. which Not only does he set old dance-rhythms to produce their spon taneous music. the somewhat insipid arioso^ which seems almost the figure of to droop with melancholy. no dearth of historical colour in the delicious scene of Manon's toilette at the in way which. is masterly in its swift. rippling movement colour which he seems to dust on rapidly. arrange a curl here and place a or underline a phrase as it were patch or pin on a flower there. and a more genuine perfume fidelity gamblers. that outwardly charming. like that of Massenet. and knew no god save that of self-indulgence and pleasure. His subtle hand possessed the exact degree of lovely of the Roi Soleil.io 4 sense is GIACOMO PUCCINI more convincing. doing something different. though inwardly and courtly men of learning. above all. while. as with a and the light with which. beginning of the prattling act. in the dialogue powder-puff. possessing. with a make-up pencil. His music has blood in its veins. the two principal motives in his Manon are more adequately and heroine. who delighted in playing at shepherds and shepherdesses. the essential point is that. dialogue by a charming symphonic which he seems to take his motives. and that he finds a more genuine note to suggest the fragrance of that epoch. this is the over. which begins almost in an indifferent tone. he from the first accompanies the scherzo^ in swift. and the insouciant in of of his courtesan. conjures up Des Grieux. society in the age frivolous decadent world of abbes and More to depict a captivating fascination. adventurers of genius marquises and servile comedians. lightness required French musician.

too. its yearning chromatic figures and imploring sevenths. the obtained by introducing notes extraneous to the high lights scale. full of fire as in this scene. and in its clear incisiveness is like a portrait in minia ture. being fascinatingly soulless. which afterwards appears in the music accompanying Manon's death. and the expiring breath of these vanities has All the more violent is the contrast with a childlike pathos. there none the less breathes In the trio of the here and there a gentle touch of feeling. there is something of the weary beat of a little lost bird's wings. with volcanic power. who none the less succumbs once more to her spell. is a variant of the arcadian motive from the lovers' duet in the first act. or a decorative drapery of melody and formal grace. On the other hand. of refracted light that these produce. as it were. minuet. hurled forth. the boredom with which Manon listens to the madrigal that now begins is strange in one so fond of her image in the looking-glass. the breathless rush of the duet between the passionately im ploring Manon and the bitterly contemptuous Des Grieux.IDYLLIC SCENES 105 meanwhile been abandoned by Manon and become a gambler. though its melodic treatment is still not quite free from hackneyed turns of phrase. and is still a little short of breath. in the minor key. the blend of disparate and fragmentary chords and the narcotic or pungent effects was he so But never. like silver bells. the mounting swell of whose melodic line is as unmistakably characteristic of the composer as are the its duet. with effects of his sophisticated harmonies. though through its tinkling notes. first given out by Lescaut and then passionately taken up by Manon in tones of remorseful recollection. Again. Never did Puccini reveal such indebtedness to Tristan as in this fevered rising sequences. like a touching reminiscence of brighter days. for the melody. for the madrigal reflects her nature quite as well as does the minuet that she dances. suggesting the tunes played by a musical clock. Only gradually did Puccini's characteristic traits reveal themselves. yet sentimental music from the realms of five-part Watteau. its construction is is far more compact and strongly articulated than to be noted in .

Des Grieux cries out for his Manon. he cries. the cries of distress of creature's in agony. as it The intermezzo into a passage of sequences of ever-increasing intensity. a * Sempre (Always the same. in Prevost's novel. The rococo spirit is gone. might or badly equally well represent a credible and attaching that is some other It may be regarded far more convincingly as an instrumental transcription of the words of piteous longing placed by Puccini at the head of this intermezzo. tearful desolation of its melody foreshadows that of the death-scene. how not developed at any very great length. Manon grief. It a heightening of the dramatic tension to the provides pitch of panting haste. which ever. As the quotation prefixed to it indicates. in accordance with the literal meaning of the word 'fugue' (fuga. in view of the sameness of his devices for expressing love and stessa. melancholy opening in a mood of Tristanlike sadness. and all that misery. pampered existence. in which. last but not powerful and effective contrast with the weighty emphasis of the melody in Des Grieux's bitter and despairing outburst against Manon. charged with quivering passion. picture the renewed on preparations for flight the part of the two fugitives. have an atmosphere quite different from that of the ones. the disconsolate. after which it broadens serves. event. the lamentations of the victims of violence. and in left is human . a characteristic background. the works that followed. it is intended to express Manon's imprisonment and transference to Havre but it .io6 GIACOMO PUCCINI is. is a splendid touch. for. its perplexed hurryings and trippings in the upper parts. least. to separate two worlds. were. and. The last two acts. who are caught this time. to which it forms capable of a unambiguous number of interpretations. the strains of disso preceding lute frivolity is and amorous dalliance have fallen silent. a reproach which might also be brought against Puccini's music. who finds it so hard to leave her la money and finery and her easy. Manon) '. and the long striding movement in the bass parts. signifying flight). It is in its beauty. without interpretation to music a transition. finally ending on the love-motive. and the fugato passage.

in itself suffices to express the sombre that hangs like a black cloud atmosphere. and.IDYLLIC SCENES these 107 This is we find Puccini's own true here. we may here note a characteristic idiosyncrasy of the composer's. which is like wise to be found both in the choral scenes of the earlier acts and in many of his later works though Puccini cannot tolerate : massed anything that tends to check the action. in all that makes the hearer thrill with sympathy own most essential nature.. bewildered lament of the hapless pair. floating above flirtatious. . business-like tone in which the sergeant reels off the names of the women to be deported. because he always interweaves the voices of the principal characters. instinct was stronger than the artistic insight of the dramatist. and the progress of the weary. or at any these words are hopelessly general tissue of the whole. hopeless the duet. whether indifferent. both as man and as artist. Puccini has written stings us to the most violent emotion. domain. and his and fierce indignation against the brutal caprices and abuse of The great power. so that After all. yet in these numbers it seems to come to a standstill. now hardly concentrated into melody. who have grown either jealous or simply indifferent. we see that his autocratic musical lost in the ensemble. callous. few things more penetratingly moving than this scene. and are driven from their country and shipped off on a voyage to inhospitable regions. the fruitless. whose words rate provide its motive. in which women. At the same time. who cannot bear to part. pitying. the situation here is so clear that it stands in no need of elucidation. argumentative tones of Manon's brother as he tries to rouse the crowd in her favour. is made over the path of the two lovers. ensemble in the third scene. both guilty and innocent. all this. are denounced by their seducers. the quiet. too. in the wails of the defenceless. with the cold. he has achieved a feat that is unforgettable. Moreover. the voices of the or even spectators. into the carry on the action. The closing act. mocking. heavy with destiny. in the silent tears of helplessness and abandonment. but in which voices merely float in a toneless whisper above the thematic tissue of the orchestra.

knows nothing of God or of spirituality. as indicated in the previous one. who represents Manon. yet even this does not really move us. This act would be better omitted. slavish weakling. though they are the principal characters.io8 GIACOMO PUCCINI single duet . unending distances of the American plains. and his episodic. but Yet to be . up of a The prospect of it. lustful. . but only the repulsive even music such as this is itself hardly enough trait Manon by in spite of all this. it will continue to live. nothing of the Idea. But it has admitted that Puccini's music. Manon's her com collapse and fever. to observe that the single ones. These are mere operatic puppets instead of human beings and. alone. with his for Des Grieux. this would possibly make a more powerful ending. has drawn all the music spell possible from this lovely. Nothing can exceed the desolation of the deportation scene. which communicates itself to the exhausted listener as well. lovable And of his opera has retained scarcely a of her original. and vain hopes of rescue. or for the silly. it gives no answer to questions concerning the relations between this world and the next. unlike that of the great masters. any mysterious powers. they remain purely Puccini fell in love with Prevost's Manon. and only succeeds in arousing a little sympathy because of her constant affection for her first lover. nothing of the mystery of existence or the significance of life. the answer is that it And is if we ask the any sympathy unmanly apathy. vain. the exhaustion and tortures of thirst endured amid the burning wastes of the waterless prairie. combined with a suggestion of the grim. and here. we find the same atmosphere of panion's gloom and pitiless anguish. cause of this failure. who abandons herself to every passing love as the flower does to the But in doing so he failed butterfly. as the approach of death is heard in the music. is enough indeed. and. who here stands real impossible to feel for the foolish. unlike theirs. too. vacillating harlot. almost flowerlike figure. dazzled by gold and jewels. It knows nothing of dreams or presentiments. It does not rise to any high or hear the call of plane.

But his incredible fascination and. and retain their youth. at the same time. his paradoxical quality lie in the fact that. And though it may fail to bring release to the spirit and lend it wings. build a temple. full of wearing heart-felt expectation. or to widen our inner vision. unconstrained and true-hearted. and in all pouring forth streams hearted music. and when they rend their hearts in pieces. painted scenery and the deceptive illumination of the footlights. suffering and rejoicing as he does. none the less. do not wear well. of' sincere. Yet. Thus. for. only for the simple. the tragic buskin mean nothing to him. he was absolutely all this. yet their walls prove to be merely stage scenery. The voice of God is silent in it. we see that they are made of tow. the vox humana^ is clear and resonant. and not upon the theatrical stage. yet that. Puccini wrote some of both kinds. though genuine in feeling. and there are others that live for ever. as well as some that from the first originated in deliberate intention rather than in spontaneous inspiration.IDYLLIC SCENES 109 But only of its semblance in the material world of waking life. it knows how to touch and move the heart. it does know mankind. he succeeded in remaining sincere. but the fraternal voice of humanity. yet he fails to see that the features of it that he human beings. but only habitations for He has no desire to requirements and stage effects in his music. in spite of his phenomenal instinct for stage unaware of with in its grasps are the purely theatrical ones. he plumbs the depths of human existence as a whole. touching emotions of creatures like unto Rhetorical heroes himself. possess . by a contradiction hard to parallel. All that issues Puccini attempts is to make men in his own image. and though he wrote for the theatre and was versed the subtlest tricks of his profession. though his inward eye was always fixed upon the stage of life. and it lacks the though power to transform the soul. unconstrained. this fraternal voice from the mouths of puppets. and true- There are melodies which. He is indifferent to conventional style and exalted and cares pathos.

with regard to this question judge them by the regards the subject-matter.no GIACOMO PUCCINI remarkable vitality. which might prove their predestined complement. that is and almost always melodious. reaches a level quite capable of satisfying any artistic standards. not of as though Giacomo Puccini. for the benefit of those German Edgar judges who are always ready to reject Puccini as the very nega tion of an artist (Unkunstkr\ that. An almost incalculable service might be rendered to if a new and really poetic librettist were to arise for it to be regenerated or even reborn. and it may be that many of them might awaken to real and lasting life for the first time. not as libretti. which is often doing him the gravest injustice to translations. which. and not by the original text. the translations While. grotesque an outrage upon sense and taste. but of Jakob or James Puccini. it is of his operatic genuinely poetical. and do not distort every sentence. so that even when they try to do justice to the clumsiness. animated dignity of the verse. but as regards the quality of the language and the supple. besides which they are absurdly feeble. this may possibly have something to do with the words associated with them. at any rate from La Boheme onward. not to say meaning. While looking through the original drafts of the Master's . setting. distorting the original with unintentionally comic effects. easily set to music and worthy of a musical on the other hand. and barbarous really are of an execrable. whether they treat of a similar subject or of quite a different one. or at least rob it of its individual savour. which is often most crude and repulsive. be it observed in passing. It is hard to decide what laws determine whether melodies will take permanent root or die out. Even the best of them lose a little of the living quality of the Italian text we were to speak. they at any rate destroy the distinctive quality and charm of the Italian original. if could be they separated from to their present words and linked with others better suited them. the same is true of many parts of Manon Lescaut in which the words are a failure though. and makes them quite unsuited for declamation.

It was not till much later. at the end of the opera. and besides. at a different place. We can see how much truth there was in the reports of his supposed wealth from a passage in one of his letters dated 1893. the written last. during the Manon period. this word affected me strangely. which was confirm his reputation. whether Milan. and on top of all the As for the parents* bedroom. after the success of La Boheme and Tosca. Puccini wrote every act of this opera. but then it descended upon him in a perfect avalanche. or Torre del Lago. piled one above the other like boxes. I felt that. accommodating manage by paying in .IDYLLIC SCENES operas or operatic fragments word: when he had written afterwards. 'Let there be life!' Every time I came upon it. third was mountain village situated high above the frontier station of Chiasso. And when I had the manuscript score of Manon Lescaut before me. attic in which the children slept. in which he describes with absolute delight how he had bought for it a bicycle. * ' For it was the first he ought to have written this same Five ! of his works that he might with justifiable pride have sent out into the world accompanied by this superscription. he was glad to make a living that would prevent him from being harassed by anxiety. it almost illegible by striking all. that he acquired any property worth mentioning. above that the parents' bedroom. and might again. liked to live a primitive life at times. On the ground-floor was a kitchen. bold handwriting. Curiously enough. however. after the date of its completion. which he could only modest monthly instalments. I in constantly came across a certain down a passage and rejected it it making it. after as well restore it that he could not improve beside it it. and lived quite a simple life with his family. in a little Swiss retreat at Vacallo. 'Vive /' creator were to exclaim. The little house at Vacallo looked as though it might have been bought at a toy shop. a finally to at Lucca. the Maestro said contentedly that it was a nice. out and scribbling over only to discover. for it consisted of three tiny rooms and no more. it was as well He for him to economize. At that time. he would write as though some in his firm.

that did not mind how it was used daytime it served indiscriminately as dining-room. i . but chiefly as a music-room. childish mischief. for music floated forth from it too. for Puccini he wante night over his work. / greeted his fellow-artist 1 with this play on the name of the w< Fraccaroli. and they had hear No wonde' it so often that it was quite familiar to them. however. Puccini's words. and gigantic hand. reception-room. was n' work had not yet advanced far but was merely due to II babbo's promise home at once so soon as they he? they should certain theme with certain closing chords full of wild des in the music. : He i: to hear failed to ring out again. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. for tt enough. study c s. the children would loiter about the neighboui i house as well. then. to the suprqri in tlv4 disgust of Tonio and Fosca. Their interest. for she had only one froc which did not remain clean long when she was at play. that they were on the look-out for it day and night. and followe them with feverish anxiety. as it were. die lasciava fare'. besides on their arrival it had been most amusingly decorated. the door wb (4 } '. ^ut they had to be patient. who were bored to death from morning till late at mountain remote from the world and with no plf mates. with a sudden shriek. closing. and. having long since exhausted all the resources solitudes. dripping with blood. could hardly wait for the return to the beloved Torre del Lago. too.1 had hung a clown and from the window oppc i Puccini's room had fluttered a flag upon which was paintc^d For Leoncavallo was staying here. were . and they kept listenin eagerly to the fragmentary chords that reached their ears froj the rather dubious little piano in their father's room. start for had played them the love-motive.i At times. so tf whenever it was washed she had to stay in bed till it was c Yet still those wretched chords which they longed so eag tion. as quoted by buona camera iadulgente. Litt Fosca was particularly annoyed. which seem break off. x for during it apartment. which at all costs to finish while he was still there. at the end of the third a.ii2 GIACOMO PUCCINI .

it would be an ineffaceable memory. dressed in hing but her nightgown. Pagliacd (Puppets) and Puccini's Manon (signifying in his 113 own Italian a two composers were on amicable. and rushed into the room where Master was working. but both of them knew { iled. Nations arose and alienated them from each other for good. He stared at the child as she stood stammering with * sccitement. It was not till later that strained 'f not very cordial terms. And on the j :t day they did really return to Torre del Lago* Here a paradise awaited the Maestro and his family. and they lived peaceably as that time the ' At -neighbours. moreover. ^ t. all ked . ler little bed. he thought. and which was. at her age she could not understand the happiness experienced in the hour that >ssibly 'What do you mean ^s the completion of a piece of work. now!* Puccini was still dreamy and absorbed. away. 'Why. ^ ^ 5 ^r Surely. together the abrupt chords symbolic of fate. though this moment meant such different things to the > of them. h~ >r were these due exclusively to Puccini's at first unconscious cr'slike of this composer who wrote the famous opera on the re of a clown ('Bajazzo'). being in that state of ^ie subsiding agitation that accompanies the close of all creative . now now we are going we? You promised!' Puccini A aglow with expectation. and made their way She woke up. and simply nodded his head.rork. at the little childish face. The thin little arms were clasped *ut his neck as she cried: aren't |L iy away. the love-motive rang out. the Pineta from Pisa to Viareggio and the little : some fifteen miles. big hand). hurried downstairs with bare feet. late one night. with cries of: 'Now. vying with each other in the progress of their composition. the lake the pine-forest. * "Now"?' he asked. which stretches Massaciuccoli. babto. But during that summer cordially reciprocated by Leoncavallo. still of 1892 harmony prevailed. .IDYLLIC SCENES upon which the two of them were then engaged. a dislike which he afterwards dis played more and more aggressively. jumped out a into little Fosca's slumbers. Then l:h at last.

for his shyness was so insuperable that he would turn tail at the door of a cafe where he had meant to go and look at the latest newspapers. and no place on earth was dearer to him. reporters who bothered him for interviews. simple people who attach little or signed photographs. his letters were always full of an almost morbid homesickness for Torre dte"" Lago. free? from and could shoot. fish. music. and was surrounded by people who gushed over him and pestered him for souvenirs. always returned. he felt quite at home. the fulfilment of a desire that he had cherished all his life. and still less to conversations about It was a godsend to him. It was here that he composed almost all his works. living a peaceful life in Here he was his family circle. the theatre and publishers. entirely himself. he could not bear altogether to abandon the place which had become his home. though in a tete-a-tete courage to sit all down among conversation he was both animated and talkative himself and Here. or fascinating ladies whose ready complaisance he found it hard to resist. simply because he could not pluck up As we may those people. who felt at his ease in a shooting-coat and uncomfortable in evening dress. he was even incapable of stammering out a few words in response to a toast at a banquet. GIACOMO PUCCINI when he first settled there. Even in after years. remember. while its abominable smells tainted the whole neighbourhood. looking like the bungalow of some great He built himself a roomy house not far captain of industry. witk the exception of Turandot^ and it was to this spot that his heart all constraint. or lie dreaming in hi# boat. Torre del Lago.ii 4 village which. when he was driven from this refuge. but as often as he . partly because his fame attracted too many curious strangers. and its steam sirens were a torture to his eaj. a refuge for the artist to whom social life was a torture. among the pine-woods of Viareggio. numbered some eighty value to autographs inhabitants. When he had to stay in Paris or New York for the purpose of supervising the pro duction of one of his operas. and partly because a factory had been builf close to his villa. away. at stimulating to those with whom he was conversing.

IDYLLIC SCENES could. Later he had a house built for him. occasionally calling out some racy remark to them. or walking over to the in thought. The rooms have been left water. were : e Dammi dal tu. encouraged them to call him by the brotherly tu because it 1 It is almost as 'gave him back his youth'. upon which is the eye glass used by the composer. Over the piano are photographs of Mahler. while he sat at the piano humming and striking chords. and the study still shows signs of his presence. or. and for more than twenty years this house formed the centre of his world. where he had been happy and lived for his work. with his hat on his head. . deep 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. as sitting he sought for his precious harmonies. Caruso. and below the life-sized portrait of Puccini. Madame Jeritza. or played cards. mi nngiovanisci*. A magic power seemed to draw him to the simple white house on the banks of the lake. and where his mortal remains found their last resting-place. against the wall adorned with frescoes by artist friends of the composers. On the large table next the little piano is lying some music-paper. a long. as was his habit. asking them whether they were He asleep. Miss Geraldine Farrar. At his he had rented a little house. as though he had only just left it. unchanged. when inspiration languished for he never tried to force it or else striding through the garden to window. Franz Schalk. drank. either. who had become short-sighted. and other artists who had been associated with the composer. and opposite. as quoted by Fraccaroli. where his days of melancholy had gradually become rarer. which he occupied with young family. he del Lago 115 would walk or ride through the Pineta as far as Torre and not only when he was shooting. of Caruso as Ramerrez. instinct with life. Nikisch. cite Puccini's words. if the members of the round table fell silent. In a corner is Troubetzkoy's splendid bronze statuette. first one-storied building stretching along the shore close to the and surrounded by a handsome garden with a wealth of shrubs and trees. though he were still there. stands the table round which his friends smoked.

and he would often sit at the keyboard by the open window till daybreak. for then he knew that his inspiration had been a happy and a living one. now by another. and even the soundest sleep would not prevent him from waking up immediately and jumping out of bed when Giovanni Manfredi. that the wind was propitious and that he was waiting for him. On these occasions Puccini would hastily slip on his bed-jacket over his undervest. till it could at be written down. the worthy peasant and poacher nicknamed Lappore. thereby informing him that he had sighted some water-fowl. on account of his white eyelashes would throw up a handful of last night when there was no moon. playing and singing a melody with a dozen different variants. and that his music was capable of striking root in But he had to be very much absorbed in his simple souls. Puccini did not work in the the evening and the night-time were his more pro ductive hours of composition. having knotted a hand kerchief round his neck and crushed a hat down over his cap.n6 its GIACOMO PUCCINI moorings. Thus it often happened that these strains penetrated to the bedrooms of the girls and young men living in the neighbouring houses. lest he might wake Donna Elvira which he would not have done for anything ! The and. creative musicians. so that they would sing many of the melodies before Puccini's veranda long before the opera was finished. He was always delighted when this happened. and above that a woollen jersey. he would creep quietly downstairs in this picturesque shootingcostume. work to decline a summons to go shooting. adding coarse canvas trousers and thick boots. he was off result was not always worth all the trouble. in the local dialect. having got his guns out of their case. for preference pebbles at *Sor GiaomoV window some each belonging to a different pair. so as to loose a boat from Unlike most morning. There is a story of a shooting expedition in Brazil and of the Master's disgrace* . then. accompanying it now by one harmonic progression. swearing as the steps creaked. the terrace overlooking the lake. and it may be doubted whether Puccini was a good shot.

well that Puccini Though everybody in court knew perfectly judicial really had infringed the game-laws. was. claiming that he ought to be discharged on the ground that not a single bird had been found dead any where near the spot. he said. this comedy ended. who would not have touched a hair of their beloved *Sor Giaomo' even if they had met him face to face in a forbidden path. but in a solemn luncheon an incident symbolic of the undisturbed serenity . On another occasion he was actually arrested as a poacher and brought before the courts. while devouring them with an excellent appetite. for the judge trembled at the prospect of having to convict the world-famous Maestro. delivered a pleading full of flagrant sophistries. discharged a few shots at his boat as it glided away into the darkness. He took a special delight in trespassing beyond the area reserved for his own shooting and in playing tricks on the watchful carabinieri. and he could hardly have been expected to try such a dangerous Moreover. It was a most bad shots at partridges. for these good fellows. that on one of these occasions his life was in danger. in his own boat. being experiment with powder and shot indoors. amusing business. not in a conviction. The counsel for the defence. It is said. that would tend to prove the contrary. and legends vary as to whether he was a wild huntsman or rather a tame one. a friend of Puccini's. the double musket-shot which had been heard.IDYLLIC SCENES fully 117 which flew gaily away. and had pro vided a pretext for this abominable prosecution of the Master. he was standing on his own ground and inside his own property. and that the composer of Gianni Schicchi pitied the poor slaughtered beasts from the depths of his heart. and that without some such corpus delicti none but the most imbecile administrator of the law could possibly talk of poaching and infringements of the game-laws . how ever. the consequence of which would no doubt have been his own transference to some such place who was as Sicily. It may well be supposed that the creator of Scarpia was not entirely devoid of cruelty. merely a trial shot with Puccini's new gun. and hit the water immediately in front of him.

too. summer. the little villages scattered along the shore. in a musician who was capable of composing Tosca^ and not only wrote the music. It was most certainly a case of repression in the Freudian sense. not only on his art. the dazzling gleam of of Carrara. might But it was a distraction but perhaps on his everyday life too. exasperated and discontented. the majestic chain of mountains fading away in the green and blue distance. whose spot. for the pastime. were a relaxation to his nerves. and no new libretto was in sight. Had it not been for his love of sport. and the delight he took in forbidden things. but himself planned the dramatic action in the last act of The Girl of the Golden We$t> which had been on quite different lines in Belasco's play. where Puccini festivals are now held every for this peaceful surface of the lake. whose neck he wrung on the spot. with snowfields on the distant peaks. it was the silly fishes that he would catch in his hands. in his search for some operatic prey.ii8 GIACOMO PUCCINI and perfect immunity from interference in which the universally beloved Maestro lived at Torre del Lago. overlooking the lake. or the wretched water-fowl that bore the brunt of his temper. shimmering waters find their way to the sea near Viareggio. from which Michelangelo quarries obtained the blocks for his gigantic statues. As we stand on the terrace constructed in front of the house. When he was in pursuit of an idea which refused to be caught. or when he had spent months on end. or the clumsy tame hunting-owl. Nobody can say what reactions may have been set up in the course of these roamings through the forest and excursions on the lake. yet at the same time it was no doubt a symbolic substitute for intellectual sport. when a motive flitted out of his reach before he could catch it on the wing. Possibly his love of sport had something symbolic about it. to him. the hideous man hunt and the threats of torture being added on Puccini's own initiative. with the red roofs of their huts in the many of their . these reactions have produced an unpleasing effect. we can understand the Master's love The broad. when an intellectual close-time circumscribed his musical inspiration.

indeed. the inhabitants of Torre del Lago. having chosen the smartest among the little flotilla of skiffs and motor-boats that rose and fell on the water. while the bier. They might know nothing of his real nature. which was now to become the Master's resting-place. every one had brought a flower from his humble garden to lay upon the catafalque. sped like an arrow across the waters. with his eternal cigarette in his mouth and on wearing the inevitable hat. one hand stuck in the front of his waistcoatj and the other in his pocket. as he was usually to be seen. They knew that not only had the glowing spring ceased to flow to which they owed their humble well-being. weeping loudly. they valued him only as the natives of Carlsbad do their springs that is. to the miniature harbour that he had himself planned. and all of them felt that they had suddenly grown old. or pursued his medita tions in the garden. were well aware of all that he meant to them. and requited his sojourn among them with respect and trusting affection. was lifted from the railway carriage and borne over all their heads into the black-draped villa. But king.IDYLLIC SCENES sunshine all 119 formed a landscape in which he felt himself to When he went down be a man. his head. from which such streams of tenderness and love had flowed forth in . the crowd thronged to the spot and stood there for hours in the streaming rain. and was able to live like one. sunk on his breast. or when he rode his bicycle through the pine-forest. and of whose gushing waters they had felt as as though they had been due to some merit of proud their own. too. as an attraction to strangers. accompanied only by Tonio. and a sort of natural wonder. his 'subjects'. perhaps. or by one of the peasants who understood machinery. They were all loath to leave him. upon which the coffin was laid. When his dead body was brought home from distant Belgium. and were absolutely devoted he felt like a little to him. and. and it was only incidentally that they heard of his operas and their glorious progress round the world. at home in his own kingdom. but they also felt dimly that Torre del Lago. with his coat unbuttoned. But even their simplicity recognized his superiority.

but only the mausoleum of the man whom they had seen in his days of happiness.120 GIACOMO PUCCINI music to the world. whether laughing or swearing. . was no longer the blooming place that it had been. but always smoking like a chimney. whether cordial and expansive or laconic to the point of morosity. whether good-natured and jocular or harsh and angry.

full of progressively heightened dramatic tension. expressions of applause. like the rainbow. who. moreover. it cannot but astonish non-Italians that Puccini. the public. according to Italian usage. hand in hand with Puccini. and respond in person to the audience's At the close of every act. ON to the irresistible. should interrupt the action in and destroy all illusion by so far complying with to this fashion tradition as appear upon the stage in modern costume. is traced 121 against a gloomy background. surrounded by the singers in their stage attire. and the tenor Cremonini had to pause and bow his acknowledgment repeatedly.CHAPTER VIII MELODIA AMOROSA (*LA Zart Gedicht und Regenbogen Wird auf dunlden Grund gezogen. as the most important condition requisite for producing his music. and triumphant. who had such a sense of the theatre. Its success was sensa At first the audience was tional. not to say cold and mistrustful but as soon as it came ist . and marks an essential distinction Italian operatic public. though this is a matter of minor importance. Manon Lescaut was performed for the first time at the Teatro Regio. . and. together with the singers. by way of parenthesis. This very fact is significant of a racial difference. to acknowledge the spontaneous bursts of clapping. called him before the foot lights more than thirty times. who were weeping with delight. Turin. GOETHE. say. 1 between the In Germany A tender poem. sweeping. a storm of applause swept through the house. sensuously graceful madrigal. the German. had to appear upon the stage too. now in a perfect uproar. and regarded a strong plot. reserved.* February 1893. that. We may here comment.

is significant not only of two different national temperaments. a conductor who refuses to do so being liable to be pelted with fruit. however. and can switch its attention on again Moreover. and its dramatic . hymns of * for the occasion. like the conductor and the orchestra. by its great artistic musical conception. in its eyes the composer is simply a immediately. and part the fact that the latter are visible might equally well be regarded as detracting from the spell of the stage. In Italy. in its eyes or else its imagination is so lively that. the power of its . the contrary is the case. effectiveness (teatraSta). where on occasion it is possible to encore even a death-scene. and the Italian opera house on the other.122 it GIACOMO PUCCINI as a serious breach of propriety if. . thus by appearing attract the applause to himself as well and share it to take ?ad of waiting till the fall of the curtain. with its hidden orchestra and prohibition of applause during the pro gress of the piece. and dramatic continuity in opera is of less importance . and if any composer were the action trying to with the actor on the spot. especially in moments of ardent enthusiasm. The Italian public is far naive. but also of two different ways first of approaching on the morrow of the performance of Manon were unreservedly unanimous in extravagant The general. The human and at the same time . on the singer were to lapse from his role and would be regarded receiving applause. or even of curtain calls. this would be interpreted as conceit. more and would give offence. and if any composer were to fail to respond to applause immediately. of the whole. he would provoke such serious annoyance as to deprive him of any desire to repeat the experiment. in it into his head to suspend and upset from the wings to make his bow. criticisms that appeared life in their Great though our expectations had been/ wrote Giovanni Pozza. it simply does not notice the material interruption. become a private individual in order to bow his thanks . The contrast between the Festival Theatre at Bayreuth. 'the opera astonishes us merit. on the one hand. the distinguished critic of the Corners della Seray who had been sent to Turin expressly praise.

in spite a different order. But we cannot but be glad when a work of merit meets with cordial approbation. and that even the well-meaning ones among them are thrown into such con fusion as to make it possible to describe a work of a high class (ein Werk von Klasse) as a classical style. the cry of Back to the antique!' and may be called classical in character. not content with enthusiastically trumpeting forth the fame of the work in his criticisms and celebrating its honourable triumph. its paths are as obscure as are its leading representatives. and leading it musical opinion in Italy granted even to the point of exaggeration. partly in silver-point and partly in more than any other opera of the present day sanguine. which had not been won by intrigue or advertisement. that. half conventional and half directly drawn from life. one displaying grandeur. and delineated. work that is. has unsealed well freshest and most artistic inspiration in Puccini's springs of the though it is curious. of the high merit (eccellente\ and referred to Puccini as one most able (forte\ if not the most able of all young Italian operatic composers. him as effect that it unforgettable and of produced upon great. in fact. in the Gazzetta del Po$olo y that he had seldom found himself so much at a loss to collect and sort all the confusing impressions of the evening and the ideas sug but characterized the gested to him in the course of the work. curse that. when Criticism really seems to suffer from the hereditary confronted with a new work of art. to note that the writer genius' of this dithyrambic report is actually capable of asserting that this opera. is entirely lacking in Puccini's Manon Lescaut. also took the greatest pains to obtain the cavalieres cross for the .MELODIA AMOROSA 123 romantic quality of the Chevalier des Grieux's love for Manon. as fulfils c it were. with her sweetness and ingenuous depravity. and indeed in all his other operas. instead of the usual carping criticism of conceited superiority. And Giuseppe Depanis of the Gazzetta Piemontese. at least. this approval. It sometimes was a long time before The it reverted to a superior tone in criticizing Puccini. austerity of and an antipathy for naturalism of all its attractive qualities of everything. critic Berta admitted.

instead of high tragic plots and grand. were furious because. and diplomas than he did of a promising libretto or a living and inspired melody. of the Renaissance He was. at the outside. whose Manon has maintained its precedence over Puccini's work outside in my Italy opinion. listening to the voice of his own souL only There is one amusing detail that we must not omit to mention. and came forward. he was not only recognized. 'Think of that. the un Puccini merely assumed a rather self-satisfied grateful expression and remarked with crushing irony. its Manoxz . on the other hand. however. composer. a year after the first performance of Puccini's opera. rich He now go felt strong enough and enough in internal resources to his own way without troubling about the precepts of others. exalted passions. appeared to repeat himself. and he Maestro that he was about to receive this distinction. and behaved most insultingly. critics. now! (Oh. For the unfortunate composer thought less of guardat)! orders. the public was furious. I must superior libretto evidently felt it so to endure the brilliant success of the * other' impossible Manon. that he made a supreme effort. for if he so much as tion.i2 4 GIACOMO PUCCINI efforts succeeded. with a new one-act Portrait de portrait of which the paint was hardly only on account of repeat. and was overjoyed when his to was able announce to the Since the production of Manon Lescaut Puccini was recog nized as possessing the most outstanding ability among the modern operatic composers of his country and as the legitimate heir to the genuine and unfailing Italian gift of melody. Massenet. that he troubled about either of them. or if one of his vocal even seemed to be reminiscent of an earlier phrases to write while the one. or. But. Instead of embracing him. in a difficult posi period. always happens. but immediately It was taken for given a label granted that in future he was as nothing but operas of the rococo. indeed. medals. he 'little turned more and more lovingly to the human Not things' of the heart. for it casts a sidelight upon the psychology of rival operatic com posers.

Even in his mature years he felt his own comparative insignificance so deeply that once. but of the young in the footsteps of that mightiest of all of music-drama. and rising superior to all selfish impulses as well as the Indian exoticism of the background. however. possible that Puccini could have heard of Richard Wagner's project of sketching the plan for a drama renunciation of the world could never have been The knowledge of this dealing with Buddha after his Parsifal. Puccini revered the Master of Bayreuth with an admiration verging on humility. and the power to infuse into his music that mystery without which Prince Gautama and his made con It is hardly vincing.MELODIA AMOROSA 125 given time to dry. for hatred may make an artist productive. for it was at once relegated to the lumberroom for ever & failure in which there is a certain retributive justice. he seemed unaware that. but it is probable that the aspect who abandons splendour and pleasure and passes through with his eyes fixed upon poverty and misery. while knowledge in engaged upon Manon. This shows a curious lack of selfan artist who was usually so honest and clear In sighted with regard to himself and his own limitations. when he had been reading the score of Tristan for hours. so that Puccini would have stopped at the point where we have reason to sup prince life pose Wagner would have begun. still We have already intimated in passing that. he lacked one essential quality: that of spiritual exaltation. exclaiming in his chagrin: 'We are nothing but mandolin- players and dilettantes: so much the worse for us if we allow . he pushed it aside with bitter resignation. this case. but envy never. apart from all the other faculties that he would have required if he was to succeed in depicting in music the human sublimity and love of such a figure as Buddha a love lavished upon all the world. the raising of material experience to the metaphysical plane. Puccini was possessed by the idea of composing a Buddha as his next work. intention alone would presumably have been sufficient to deter him from following composers of Buddha he would have chosen would not have been that of the universal sage and teacher of humanity.

in order to he remained spellbound every time enjoy it without fatigue. whose entered into correspondence true nature. our feelings to be to This terrific music reduces us In his eyes of no imitation!' nothingness and admits work of all others. Daudet's permission to turn Tartarin de Tarascon into Alphonse an opera bouffe. he none the less managed to remain inde of his influence to an extent which may almost be pendent However this may be. to be cautious in our view of Puccini's nature as an artist. unfit for his purposes.. had analysed it in the minutest detail. Hence he singer. nor did he abandon this desire till it was seen that the figure of Tartarin himself and the possibilities of framing He But the idea a plot with him as its centre were both too slight. He was always studying Die Meisterfrom beginning to end. proved. though. but did not receive any proposals that bore fruit. in He was fond of playing the pleasurable circumstances). which star preserved would have led him into an intellectual and artistic sphere where he would have been doomed to failure. He . I have already intimated that he perhaps and not merely to the ordinary run of applied to poets of note. in the hope of obtaining collaborators suited to his librettists. the Good Friday music from Prelude. Nor is this the only subject whose treatment we are sur considered admirable. and this warns us prised to find the Maestro contemplating. to requested Maeterlinck to suggest subjects He him. that engaged his attention longest was that of an opera based thoroughly upon Emile Zola's La Faute de TAble Mount. the Grail music and memory on end. and when he was in Vienna. He asked sketches. and even to revise it. with Gabriele d'Annunzio. as he had intended. instead of hearing one act on each of the three successive evenings on which Parsifal was performed. and would have felt it presumptuous to venture to carry out an idea for hours of the great Master's.126 GIACOMO PUCCINI stirred. Puccini's lucky him from venturing upon a Buddha opera. in spite of all his unbounded reverence for him. so much so that he Parsifal was the one allowed himself to be drawn to Bayreuth (as we have seen. however.

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''"""' X"^" " 1 ** / " fl ^ f^ 1 */"' i^**^ JfiH ' PUCCINI IX HIS MOTOR-BOAT PUCCINI AT HIS STUDY WINDOW .

love and ultimate deeply when he learnt from Zola that the subject had already been the author's friend Alfred Bruneau. As we carried pains to find the right subjects. and even become so absorbed in the subject as to start sketching the music. though not a lasting impression upon both the French and the German Puccini was strongly moved by it. and death should have moved him deeply both but in the long run this subject. and that the contrasting vicissitudes of her life. compose the music for a few works of Zola's. and several scenarios about with him for a long time. too.MELODIA AMOROSA 127 steeped himself in the wondrous atmosphere of the book. only to discover that. though he had at first been full of unbounded enthusiasm for them. we are bound to admit. artist. the 'Girl of the Golden . testing them He took incessant by describing them to others. The work was even announced in the papers as Puccini's next opera under the title of Conchita. and approached stage. Maurice Vaucaire with a view to the drafting of a libretto based on the play. in keeping with his temperament that the fate of the quite his mind hapless Queen Marie Antoinette should have occupied for years. some of which the composer had written specially for him. they had lost their hold on him and no longer touched his heart. in the luxuriant Eden-like bloom of its landscape. and so far as he was concerned that settled the fate of any pro It posed opera for good. but Minnie. it was not always his fault if he had to make shift with such texts as were accessible. and he had already conceived the idea for a scenario. and the innocent lapse into sin of its characters. Puccini entrusted to afterwards embodied in his SHOT Angelica a large proportion of the sketches for this music of which he had dreamed in vain. it was thanks to him that these assumed a suitably terse and dramatically logical form that offered due scope for his music. as man and for him. which for a time produced a violent. indeed. however tempting it may have been. and. La Femme etk Pantin (The Woman and the Puppet). is sufferings. which was forthwith translated into Italian. lost interest and so did Pierre Louys's sentimental and passionate tragi-comedy of modern life. who did. see.

That which he had laid aside as dead in Sicily woke to life in the Parisian garret of La Bohemey and Rodolfo's very first arioso *Nei cieK bigi (Lazily rising)'. but rather of merriment and care-free youth. though. The Countess Gravina*s Fraccaroli. or Immediately after completion of Manon attracted bigotry. and with a religious procession as a background! How That settled the question. in which protested against blood is shed while a procession is passing by. as quoted by dramma di sensualita . non voglia mischiare questo e di delitto a nn episodio religiose! Le portera sfortunaP actual words. only to become an address to the grey. and when she asked him about his projected compositions he de She was horrified: scribed to her the subject of La Lupa. a crude drama. Maestro. singing its holy litanies. But dissimilar though the two scenes 1 * are. Yet all the while he felt a secret doubt. revives a melody which was born beneath the blaze of the blue southern skies. overcast 7 . 'jettatura'. in which what of Sicilian chiefly attracted him were the unbridled passions life and the power of the the evil eye. ousted the girl of the Paris pavements and ended by was exercised suppressing her entirely. full of by Giovanni Verga. darkened at times by the smoke of Etna. Cosima Wagner's daughter. There was something within him that certain scenes. studied the people and their songs. it is as little expressive of the one as of the other. she exclaimed. and wrote a quantity of music for it. strictly speaking. wrote the libretto for Cavatteria. were: 'Ah. came to terms with Verga. on board the boat. extremes meet\ TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. luck to associate your music with deeds of blood and sensuality. In terms of sincere horrible!* 1 he notified Verga that he had irrevocably abandoned the regret idea. But this music. The Maestro's mind even longer by another subject for an opera. Maestro. On his way home he met the Countess Blandirie Gravina. too. sky of Montmartre.128 GIACOMO PUCCINI West'. brutal vigour by La Lupa and bloodthirsty Lescaut he was irresistibly (The She-wolf). especially the last. was not lost. who He even went to Sicily. *It will bring you bad 'Beware.

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A PAGE OF La Eoheme^ ACT in (reduced facsimile) .

like a very Solomon. while even that which had already been decided upon had to be constantly modified.MELODIA AMOROSA Manon 129 Instead of the fierce peasant tragedy of a frenzied woman. in two'. The choice was a difficult one. and with fiery impatience urged Illica and Giacosa (the latter of whom he also meant to interest in his Buddha) to compose an operatic libretto in which the rich abundance of scenes in Murger's book would have to be condensed into four. During this period Giulio Ricordi hardly knew whether he was a pub lisher or a consulting librettist. As a matter of fact. and whose hearts break jealousy. and often presented in Ten times the weary librettists threw quite a different fashion. his word was almost always final. Henri Murger's La Fie de Boheme had fallen into the Master's hands. in a rage before the four acts were finally completed. up their work in a supple form with well-balanced contrasts. as well-constructed and ready to be set to music as Puccini could desire. so incessantly was he called upon to settle quarrels and deliver judgment. but the musician who found himself between two women : he became the hopeless slave of Mimi and Musetta. and the book to attain a final form in which it had satis factorily shaken off all tendency to hypertrophy. This time it was not the man. the abundant wealth of the story was so rich in matter. Lescaut was followed by the 'old. that La Vie de Boheme yielded from fifteen to twenty acts. yet ever new' story of young lovers. rearranged. They had regretfully to omit much that was charming and much that was very funny. and many outbursts of rage on the part of the choleric Illica had to be appeased. and kindled him to enthusiasm. and thanks to him the often discouraged composer was enabled to have his way. when life or death robs them of and cold too seriously or love too * that which they hold most dear. who have fits of but are quickly reconciled. starving yet full of hope. as in Heine's poem. and the unrestrained imagination which Illica brought to supplement it was so exuberant. who do not take hunger lightly. Puccini came into collision with other composers over all three of his operas that first became . By a curious parallelism of events.

Things probably happened much as they it is and in the history of the world in general. and that was most likely too feeble for him to use himself. managers. have been looking for a good operatic libretto for ages. to follow. the account given in Giacomo Puccini intimo y by his two friends Guido Marotti and the painter Ferruccio Pagni remarked with a deep sigh of for the purpose of satisfaction. there was a serious clash with the author and composer of Pagliacci^ not altogether easy to discern what motives were involved. more or less and their own work. 'What is that?' he *I subject inquired. after Murger's . but the stronger carries do off the victory. and in a week or two's time probably About a year later the two com forgot the whole incident. Whether Puccini's judgment was influenced by the fact that he did not much like the author of the text. scarcely looked at the libretto. the fact remains that Puccini. without bloodshed. but While Puccini had still been at work on Manon. posers met. and in the case of La Boheme with Leon cavallo. simply annoying the other man : singers. in which conflicts are not always decided on ethical grounds.130 GIACOMO PUCCINI famous: in the case of Manon with Massenet. and. Ruggiero Leoncavallo had offered his fellow-composer an operatic libretto bearing the title of Vie de Boheme y which he did not want to set time being. and which of the two composers should be absolved of guilt. in the end Puccini vindicated his own claim. by Illica and Giacosa. exchanged amicable greetings. as a rule. in the case of Tosca with Franchetti. and was now probably trying to dispose of a book that nobody wanted. and now I have found one with which I am absolutely delighted'. who was at that libretti. and Puccini closely. so to speak. Leoncavallo pricked up his ears. Leoncavallo was most likely in the right. always wrote his own to at least for the music himself. time unacquainted with Murger's novel. but declined it. La Scheme. publishers. But whereas the conflict over the first two took place only behind the scenes. and fell into the usual conversation of composers. on such topics as operatic rivalries. or whether he rather distrusted the altruism of a colleague who.

particularly A Torre del Lago with greater fervour than ever. while at midday it read For the time the finishing touches. now you have the face to tell me that to a libretto opera on the same subject. and You are writing then as pale as death. Very good with rage. 'So Boheme to music?' Capital !' 'Abominable!' that means that there will be two Bohemes* ' you are composing an by Giacosa and Illica? shouted the other. . and in Vienna. supposition that there After all. they both hurried off in different directions. with much gnashing success. what is an der Wien more.MELODIA AMOROSA novel. the rival one was performed in Paris. Puccini was just putting the race in was to Leoncavallo. and. 'I shall go to then/ replied Leoncavallo. had had to abide by the contract signed by his predecessor.' heard of a Boheme that had been completed by Maestro Leon of a Boheme to which Maestro cavallo. the band of friends who were bidden every evening to the Maestro's villa formed itself into an expression of the name of the new opera a club While Puccini was working at his opera at bearing . I tell you that I have myself set my Vita di But supposing answered Puccini quickly. was as a result of which Leonca staged an enchanting production. and insert a notice establishing my prior claim!' ' ' 1 snorted Puccini. of which he was simultaneously performing little while later he took it over and fond. to the fury of of teeth. * ! 'The idea came from me in the first place/ And the music will come from me Very well. . and spluttered: 'What? a Boheme too ? Why. and . and in the morning the astonished public 'And I. to look on while the neighbouring Theater Puccini's work. who. 131 But what is the matter with you?' The stout Leoncavallo had sprung to his feet. I offered you my libretto last year. there is only one.. So Puccini's would be two Bohemes was not confirmed. While Puccini was still absorbed work on his opera. 'shall go to the Corriere della Serai' Without taking leave of each other. foaming the Secolo. turning first as red in the face as though he were on the point of an apoplectic stroke. vallo's poor opera was finally consigned to oblivion. with a little later but little Gustav Mahler.

but assumed the mask of nonsense and jollity. pedants. which means both candle-ends and swear words. The lighting of the club-room shall be by means of an oilShould there be a shortage of oil. will not be admitted. which included some president was naturally assigned the distinguished members. take an oath well-being. is Article 8. The Members of the La Boheme Club. but actually encouraged. those with weak stomachs or of little wit. because they seem to me typical of the atmosphere by which Puccini was surrounded. Article 5.132 GIACOMO PUCCINI genuine esteem which. lively ^ And which the whole of this his friends' accompaniment work. Article 2. Article 3. Article 7. and still better eating. I quote the statutes of this 'La Boheme Club'. collecting Article 4. and other deplorable persons of the kind. proved once again how great is the artist's need to find some to his compensation for the emotions and crises of creative work. doings not only did not disturb. Those indifferent to the Muses. quantity of drawings. but will be indignantly expelled by the members. pleasing to relate. Article I. sketches. and pictures from the hand of the painters who formed the majority of the them one of Puccini as the circle. by the brilliant wit of the members. bear witness that wit and intelligence were not excluded from their midst. grumblers. spirit. Cleverness not permitted even in exceptional cases. among 'king of money'.) strictly forbidden to is play fair. caricatures. Silence prohibited. as well as of the artist's love of exuberant fooling in his hours of relaxation. He hilarious office of honorary of this light-hearted society. The treasurer is empowered to abscond with the funds. And so forth. In of all the spite A pro hibitions contained in the statutes. Article 6. 'the least destitute of us all'. it shall be replaced lamp. but pledges himself to prevent the treasurer from the members' subscriptions. It is is untranslatable. (The play of words on moccoli. and showed that it . true knights of the to cultivate for whose benefit the club has been founded. did not take the form of inflated language and solemn offerings of incense. The President acts as arbiter in disputes.

and one of them said: These pages c . absorbed in Mimi's death-scene. From time to time there would be a subdued cry of> 'Diamonds!' 'I trump it!' Next a murmur from the piano of 'F-e-f-g-. and then . The which The date was November The friends were playing at 1895. that of Mimi's peaceful death. but ended very differently. pass days of also of bitterness. but the mere pleasure of becoming a child again. *Be careful. which appeals with equal force and the same touching accents to both old and young? It is certainly not among to be found in its 'content'. that provide the true compensation for his hours of devotion to his work. too. CeccoF 'Pagno. and Puccini. and indulging in nonsense to the point of absurdity. B flat minor that will be all Then. from the table. and pairs of lovers come together. hummed the Maestro. with its gently expiring music full of stifled tears and the grief of young hearts.' From the table: 'I trump it!' Che ha detto il medico? Verra (What said the doctor? He '11 come)'. 'Be quiet. shed tears. There was one evening at the La Boheme Club that started like all the previous ones. right'. Suddenly he turned to his friends. nor he about them. None of the club members were troubling about him. you might take the game seriously!' 'Of course not' from the piano *Of course it must be C sharp minor. anc^ t ^LC ^me ^ ate at night. I reproduce here in a somewhat abridged form. while the Maestro sat at his Forster upright piano striking one chord after another. and it is probable that future years will continue to do so.MELODIA AMOROSA is 133 not change of occupation. that will not do. for its dramatic substance is of the slightest. * will make you immortal'. cards. book on Giacomo Puccini intimo gives an account of it. All of them wept. Two merry frivolity. no. The next thirty years confirmed his verdict. you fellows! It is finished!' All of them threw down their cards and crowded round him and he sang them the last scene of the opera. What is the secret of the spell cast by La Boheme^ that ingenue operas. They embraced him in silence. in company.

gradually dying. has a particular appeal to way. good-hearted. who endure hunger and carries conviction. that provides their Quarter background adds a further touch. they are behaving exactly like the members of the famous club at Torre del Lago. shiver with cold and his carry on a precarious existence. one of the young They meet again. The artist life of the Latin equally true of his characters. there is its attraction in the very fact that action. or while away hours of depression with all sorts of exuberant.134 lose sight of GIACOMO PUCCINI one another. our sympathies the figures in it are those of thoroughly young. friends had done in the Galleria at Milan. however. frivolous love of comfort and idle ease. so as to laugh their worries away. spend their whole lives building castles and are always ready to help one another. natural human creatures. But its supreme attraction is to be found in the fact that it proceeds in exactly the same it. the human kindliness of whose heart has not been destroyed either by a life spent in alternations of transient luxury and renewed want. grisettes. yet manage to just as Puccini live. the fruit of real experience. debts. feeling like to come into their kings the moment a little money composer. only to watch who has been drawn back by her desire to breathe her last in the garret that had witnessed her and to recognize the womanly happiness. childish nonsense. goodness of the other. deprivation courageously. which was always being applied to the hands. and the whole thing teems with music the music of youth. love. for normal life One thing about : in the air. lies Perhaps. When they feed the stove with their manuscript dramas. and the word simpaticone (thoroughly sym is pathetic). and that the plot does not turn upon a homogeneous situation of no violent gradually increasing intensity. Puccini's youth and that is All this . calling for breathless sensation. happens This produces a sense of warmth and close affinity with ourselves. poets. and musicians and run up. such as duels with the stove-rake or dancing quadrilles. however. but merely shows us detached moments in these people's lives in a series of episodic scenes. or even by her poverty. These painters.

MELODIA AMOROSA of everybody else. discerns with unerring sureness whether a melodic or tonal idea is a gift of the gods. may frequently the only inspiration that holds its own is that which has come 'from above'. but due only to the artist's practised hand. is his heaven-sent of the heart. of it haps a hundred times. that nowadays combinations of tone seem to us temporarily Puccini's only worn-out and faded. and know every bar If there one has lost its freshness for me. that yet not a single is an impression become blunted. has spent almost thirty years on end in the a drudgery of a critic's life. often capable of aping genuine inspiration to the point of mimicry. But what tame. for. and the many peculiar harmonies arising out of the use of the so completely out secondary chords. even in the composer's own work. as I have done. for he But in the long run alternate between the two. what is more. as melody. by depressing experience in connexion the time he has heard them more than ten times. the hybrid sixths. indeed. his genuine inspiration. it is that produced by certain harmonies which caused an outcry at first owing to their has unprecedented and unpardonable audacity: the frank con secutive fifths. 135 listener And. though these have been done by the atonal constructions. of the extreme moderns. the melody from the element of mere technique and conscious cannot be outdone. goes through with most works. it makes the young again. and at times positively it cannot change. wear thin. resembling reinforced con though perhaps crete. No fashion can supersede this. which is. and are no longer surprised even by the most I have heard La Boheme per striking touches of inspiration. they begin Any one who to inspired that is only what is absolutely genuine and truly and even in the works of real masters all that lasts. every harmonic subtlety colour in advance. It is loses its directness of its appeal by the time we know every and every shade of instrumental phrase. not elemental. or It is feeling that merely the outcome of the composer's personal idiosyncrasy. any more than . the double suspensions. because distinguished construction.

have a that deprive pungent tang and a perhaps over-piquant aroma (Hautgouf] them of any sickly insipidity and lend them their This can be felt characteristically refreshing quality. it may lend them undue emphasis. and seem.136 GIACOMO PUCCINI the blossoms of a fruit tree are superseded by the fruit every autumn. and it always indicates an attempt to correct the tendency of a -parlando passage to become too . though probably half-unconscious contrast with the composer's predi lection for harmonic schemes based on the intervals of the fifth and fourth. which. When this unexpectedly occurs in passages of the libretto with no particular significance. answering one another like responses. dances waywardly onward. representing. It is Puccini's order. in clever. for it blooms again in the spring with the same fra melody in La Boheme is of this thoroughly wayward. as it were. on the sixth or the mediant rather than on the dominant. first bar onwards. while the piece unfailing long. tending to dissimulate the four-bar periods by rhythmical modifications. Even in moments of supreme emotion the whole spirit of the is one of measure and equilibrium. preferring halfgrance and glory. inherent in it. light and shade a terse neatness but this and provides a timely break in the dialogue. as it were. even the merely accessory elements have a glow of vitality. to the detriment of the dramatic apparent defect is compensated for by of treatment. this wooing. though often. which may otherwise easily become monotonous in its constant alternation of short vocal phrases. yearning. insistent atmosphere. The incessant rubato. too. cooing. the short and long pauses closes (Haltungen\ and the sudden break into hurried successions of notes after sustained ones. leaping theme of the strings and wood-wind. piquantly provocative harmonies that spring to life with this wealth of melody. once . upon which it tends to avoid coming to rest. In sphere of warm and sensuous melody. in the merry. all go to produce a sense of unrest that palpitates with this life. the de Boheme a distinguishing sign of the from the very w .launched on its way with joyous impetus by the rebellious opening syncopation. with nerves.

had in the principal dominating character already asserted its section of the amazing in which delightful. But before we reach this scene. believe in the variety of its vocal line and me)'. final scene of the act. there is nothing but high spirits exuberance: the entrance of Schaunard the musician. and develops a dithyrambic. rises to an exultant expression of the mutual attraction that has sprung up so rapidly between the two. with its tender ardours^ of and sparkling youth and love. but are better suited to the character of prosaic realize this to the full when. Puccini's predilection combination of harps. into swaying four-four movement. in the dialogue with Mimi. originally the sketches for La Lupa. heart like is stirred by these strains. and not till then. . is the way Capricdo sinfonico. its its full broadly spaced its unsymmetrical of sustained irregular alternation and accented quavers with we may note how its soothing hurrying triplets. accompanied by with its jingling vehemence and whimsical suggestion of effort. becomes a sort of heraldic badge of How the tone and light elegantly conversational themselves to the refuse to adapt gaiety of its cantilena simply words at first. Then. the little bar embroideress. it breaks into bloom in the fervent outbursts with which it continues: 'Talor dal mio forziere (Bright eyes as yours.MELODIA AMOROSA motive which. included among Rodolfo's little arietta. produces the happiest results in unison by the male when this same soaring melody. with his the second EoUme motive. a model of its kind rhythmic plan. every horns. this melody changes from the lively six-eight young poet. and clarinets. unexpected money. and how enchantingly full and warm is the tone of the strings and wood-wind that form bright. as we 137 may remember. flutes. with whose sparkling the romantic glamour of the swelling notes he loved to mingle its for the And in this passage. too. accompaniment. 'Nei cieli bigi'. fervent hymn of praise celebrating the happy dreams that fill the poet's hours. besides which middle bars come at just the right time. sung and female voice. The We to the peaceful. in which so much that is spring blooms in the midst of winter. in the the charming poet. and climaxes.

any more than in those of the sacristan in Tosca. with the spontaneity of an improvisation. suffering creatures. drowning want and the whispers of privation in its brilliance. in the blissful love that pours forth from a full heart. of the joyous burlesque scene with the landlord. amorous emotion. as though of some boding divine in a roots in an underlying sadness quality especially convincing in La Boheme^ where it is pecu But it cannot be denied that the purely liarly appropriate. it were. which was . the departure the musical symbol of which. evil. till Gianni Schicchi that it seems to draw breath quite indeed. finds its truest and purest expression in passages of fervent emotion. always forms the predominant colour of Puccini's nature. and even in its most exuberant manifestations the impression of spontaneous joyousness is clouded by a curious feeling. that typify the young band of artists. The insuperable melancholy which. and develop it its full brilliance. One germ springs by out of another. is here way. or as though it had its of tender.138 GIACOMO PUCCINI the advancing with such confidence and jollity in six-eight time. freely. blossom upon blossom pushes its way forth. a sort of reckless humoresque. are formed of quite a different substance from that which we have noticed in the characteristically bohemian motives. and in which the recurring lyrical were. as it It is not. all go to make up one great suggested in a shadowy scherzo. Perhaps this is why the spontaneity of Puccini's gaiety is not quite convincing in these scenes. ritornelli take. and that which seemed at first to offer but a poor incentive for as thematic development grows and develops into a luxuriantly clustering motive. a plant-like process of growth. though only as it unfolds can we recognize the scheme according to which the motives develop. full not altogether spontaneous. These melodies are propagated. even in periods of brightness. the 'notorious' sequence of fifths repeated three times. companions for the Cafe Momus. shy longing and helpless lamentation. the place of a trio. or in the dejection of weary. of a gaiety that is lyrical scenes. For in the earlier operas we a hidden melancholy. but always seems to be rather artificially worked up.

accompanied tells And next graceful. s found we see them both searching for . by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world yet hardly anybody would call this music 'stale' this music of simple hearts. while the little lamp of love begins to glimmer in the Next her bedroom key is lost. seem to me . other. and he is frozen)' forty years .)'. heart-felt di* (You love me ? Say -. suspended. and closer together till his hand grasps exclaims 'Che gelida manina (Your tiny hand ivords which have been repeated during the last :loser groping their way hers.t first merely MELODIA AMOROSA hinted at. yet. it could hardly have failed to degenerate into the banal pathos of the ordinary great operatic duet. the unforgettable melody that blazes up. for all its glowing ardour. that delightful and the candle by Mimi. the preceding passages. and hovers in tiny particles in the musical *Io t'amo' a little passage of imperishable beauty. Che m'ami. but also in the nusic. only to start If it had risen at once in again and gather power once more. remains firmly planted upon earth it ends with a gentle. as it were. We may watch 139 this nstance. this song of two grown-up children in love with each 1 Or again. in which Rodolfo of his poetic dreams and Mimi recounts her poor little lifestory and her beautiful dreams over her embroidery. flowery pattern in the orchestra.. by such a the unfolding of the appassionato^ the atmosphere of which is so cleverly broken by the shouts from the street. for act. and concludes with the But even seem to be ex if the melodic inspiration might conceivably hausted. . it. but that of two hearts larkness. till emotion on the words.arried ife. into a flame. the tenderly passionate passage that follows it. accompanied by the motive of the gelida manina^ which has in the meantime gained a little warmth. up to the point at which the fluctuating and still formless parlando in which the melody is. condenses into a firm vocal line. in the closing scene of the first cene in which the two young people meet. with its fresh fragrance as of green meadows. y atmosphere. with her longings for the modest pleasures of extinguished not only before our eyes. an unbroken vocal curve. * it and true in sentiment. is process. as it were.

fragmentary of this dialogue. and . and listened to the most homely phrases of everyday language. the whole admirable. to my mind. passages of this kind were not swamped in operatic bombast as a matter of course. till the overflowing emotion assumes its form and contour in the vocal parts as well. in figures clad in the strange costumes of long past ages. then followed by little trifling remarks. if masterly inspiration. which are none the less vibrant with suppressed emotion. and I must confess that stirs or touches me more than the short.i 4o GIACOMO PUCCINI Indeed. not on artistic grounds only. only to fall silent again. or Rodolfo and Mimi's questions and you Si. the sober prose of ordinary things. in interpreting in music the gestures of daily life. passage strikes me as a most happy inspiration. grazie (Do Yes. however much this music may -be drowned at times by the din of everyday life and the cries of those buying and selling in the Puccini really market-place. but in the whole of life. and demonstrated that music is to be found not only in that which is remote from us in time and space. but outlined answers in their feel better? first scene ' : Si sente meglio ? clearly melody. even in its most primitive present-day forms. slightly indicated motives. too. and breathing music into simple. I instance such * nothing may Verra (What said the phrases as 'Che ha detto il medico? doctor? He'll come)*. thank you)*. in which. they were accompanied by a few meaningless chords. till he discovered that they vibrated in sympathy with the mysterious music of the universe. ordinary speech. succeeded in awakening the soul that exists in little things'. Puccini dis covered the music of everyday things. accompanied by the orchestra. He detected the hidden of music in all that had hitherto been regarded potentialities as thoroughly anti-musical. first searching and groping in faltering. and in those universal human elements that have receded into a legendary distance. and in all the phenomena of the world as God created it. The whole passage is a In former days. he has found phrases the tones that most move the heart. which may well be regarded as significant of future tendencies. and are accompanied by a slight.

and that this is the really new feature of his art. The words express the only Parisian touch in the whole work. the sextet is a brilliant number. and this is justified by the . with its insinuating. Yet in spite of this the whole thing bubbles over with life. parts. or anything that is by not turned to eloquent melody. in which Puccini follows his usual custom of giving no prominence to the words that illuminate line. there are no longer any thin passages linking one number with the next. For the future. empty sing-song of recitativo secco. condemned at times to a merely supernumerary role.MELODIA AMOROSA 141 It relegated to the tedious. expressive of a deep inward experience. seems to me true to say that Puccini has redeemed these passages his sincerity of expression and living music. anger. the chorus of chattering urchins. the children's trumpets blown by the passers-by. in which the principal characters are. jealousy. whether these be love. and provides too slight a subject for a whole act. enticing atmosphere and charm of leading up to the triumphant canto fermo of the great sextet that follows. or disappointment. the cries rather disjointed and episodic. But for all that. of which it is a matter of common the private sentiments of the various characters. Musetta's symphony of is waltz. for the listener's capacity for catching different sets of words is even smaller than his power of following the various the ensemble in a way experience that no more than three can be distinguished at the same time. and. The second that Rodolfo act is and Musetta meet again is not of any particular dramatic importance. we may add. even in merely subordinate and trivial dialogue. gracefully alluring and supplely coquettish and provocative. however. the gem of the act. The fact Mimi join their friends and that Marcello of the hawkers. The and Christmas bustle in the streets. and the merry or angry voices of the bohemians unite to form a incredibly diverting brilliance and remarkable finish. but allows them to be swallowed up in the mass of voices joining in that hardly tends to elucidate what is going on. the psychology of the characters or carry on the action. but the music is all rustling silks and glittering lights.

with the ringing sequence of fifths sounded three times that opens the act. through the Christmas cries. and. he never wrote anything of the sort for himself. passage in a different connexion. like the whistle of of the flutes and harps. care-free joie de mood But the moment the opening bars of the next act are heard. wearily and emptily above the frozen rigidity of a pedal-point formed by shivering tremoli on the cellos. is of most un-bourgeois gaiety. the rest. brings the act to a close in a thing vivre. high in the glassy tones echoed suggestion. not the snowy scene of the Barriers d'enfery in which a reminiscence of the once turbulent. not always very It always strikes us afresh as incomprehensible that. blending with the Christmas motives. which brings the whole of the Latin Quarter to its feet. while the rough voices of the tipplers and the ring of glasses are heard from the inn. winning waltz suddenly seem to have acquired a meretricious and descended to the bass. the monotonous cries of the toll-house . all this is I have already mentioned this forgotten. advancing in time to the drum-beat. and the happily.142 fact that it GIACOMO PUCCINI was in existence first. We have a similar im pression when. and the strains of Musetta's dainty. which outshines lively tones fifes sung by the all lovers. and the and of the old-world military march. that seem to drop downwards. level of a tune on the barrel-organ. of Act II is here unruly fifths on the trumpets at the beginning rushing an icy wind. and remarked that the only landscape it depicts is that of winter in the soul. or rather to whatever meaningless words he chose. shouting and cheering. he was capable of writing charming and well-turned though From verses. Puccini wrote it with no words before him. and the text was fitted to it afterwards. the sprightly march of the children. the whole one great song of self-forgetting. as the hospital near we listen to the thin notes of the bells from by. the solo passage for the trumpets. with its squeaky cornets. gracefully lingering minuet-like number down to the waltz sextet. An infinite sense of desolation is felt when a sustained note on the piccolo sounds above this monotonous.

This is followed by the quartet. penetrating the very soul with their sorrow though it must be admitted that the association of this music. But the fourth act is even more heart-rending. for which the unfortunate translator cannot this time be blamed. and turns it to use in his own fashion. can be found the only Mascagni-like echoes in the whole of Puccini's work. mourning and quiet resignation. hopeless insolence of the squabble between Marcello and Musetta. and the tender hopelessness of the last reunion between Rodolfo and Mimi. . peasants. with secret longings and anguish and this me de Boheme. does 1 not seem very appropriate. after which its feverishly convulsive triplets break out. Above at the rapid flight of youth. Then comes the duet between the two friends. like an echo of the past. 143 and lamplighters. imploring passage in which Mimi begs her friend Marcello to help her win back Rodolfo's heart. we seem to hear. the jangling. Una terribile tosse (By fierce. with the arid words. in despair. with the wild intensity of its vocal parts. Mimi's musical self-portrait from her song in the first love-scene gleams like a ray of light and the symbol of a heart rending memory. which sound like the singing of telegraph-wires. clinging to one another. and the quivering. The frostflowers of the music seem to melt in the sad.MELODIA AMOROSA keepers. incessant coughing) *. as it were. which is also But now everything is clouded with reflected in the music. rebellious Scheme motive. the jolly. as it were. Puccini has learnt much from Wagner. forming an almost unbearably poignant song of farewell which. which is really a combination of two ill-assorted duets. into stifled sobbing. we may note. with the heart-rending grief of its passionately despairing melody 'Mimi e tan to malata! (Mimi 's so sickly. amid which. is expressed in unchanged almost exactly the same motives. like a beloved picture from happier days. which has grown cold a passage in which. outwardly but really overcast with gloom. empty fifths on the muted strings. so ailing 1)'. octroi officials. like hot tears. It returns to the atmosphere of the first scene in the garret. leaves an aching wound in the heart.

now broken. whose dying strains illuminate Manon's closing hours like a happy memory of earlier and brighter days. and the kindly pathos of Colline's song about his coat. asso good-humour. first hesitating. And similarly. but arrives immediately With the afterwards to die in the arms of her Rodolfo. in this last act of La Boheme^ no newly invented theme. while Mimi's motive. Puccini was perfectly conscious of his reason for not introducing any new In a letter to Giulio themes into the melodies of this act. as of the and it and smiling sadly were. in an augmented form. which is otherwise unchanged. and a violent effort to work up an atmosphere of laboured second Boheme theme. the ciated with the musician Schaunard. by wearily sinking. It indeed the crowning scene of the whole work. Ricordi he expressly states that 'the whole act is constructed out . who has been seen expensively dressed and driving past in a carriage. that inspired could touch us so deeply as these hovering How un reminiscences of the past.144 all. and the power In the final scene of of memory to conjure up what Is gone. GIACOMO PUCCINI he has grasped the secret of reminiscence. ardently evoking dreams of vanished realities. Manon Lescaut emotions that cannot be expressed in words had been suggested with the utmost insistence by quotations from earlier parts of the opera: by the love-motive. while similarly. expresses the precarious situation of the young artists during their frugal meal of a herring by another key. however great the genius it. mistakable and convincing is the way in which the harsher. and then suddenly gliding into How simple is the process by which reminiscences of the squabbling duet call up the image of Musetta in Marcello's mind. expresses a mood of extreme tension. suggests the appearance of the little grisette. grace^ the minuet theme from the second act. and now rather brutal instrumentation of the opening motive. and full this that makes such a revelation of the soul and so of true is human feeling as to bring hot tears to every eye. reflected in the music. exception of the stormy duet between the two friends. there is scarcely a note to be heard in the it is whole of this act that has it not been sounded before.

145 reminiscences. can be reckoned on the fingers of our two hands: among them are Lohengrin's farewell. and the 'Wach auff in the third act of Die 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. . and lay quivering before our eyes. the genuinely moving. left alone with Rodolfo. Eva's outburst in the shoemaker's shop. When Mimi. once and for all. that move us to tears. in the whole of opera. as quoted ia the Epistolary tutto di ritorni logici. of the fluctuating thoughts and emotions of the characters. that.' * They are so full of intimate feeling. salvo (No. while Puccini was writing this farewell to life and youth. were: 'L'atto e composto quasi il duettino "sono andati" e la zimarra di Colline.MELODIA AMOROSA of logical logical. tears streamed from his eyes. and when the little life sick girl. L . is brought to the garret by Musetta. Sieglinde's dawning consciousness of motherhood. But they are more than and present such a convincing picture of mental processes. few other things have power to do. How : is the contrast when. penetrated by mysterious waves that turn it to music. and violent the poetic theme associated with Rodolfo marks her return to her poet-lover. heart-stirring passages. it is as though a human heart were laid bare The whole scene before us. after which the melody bursts forth into a poignant cry and sobs distractedly in an epilogue full of wild lamentation. now reunited for a brief hour. . after the exaggerated turbulence of the supper-scene. that they produce the effect of an X-ray photograph this is very soul. breathes tranquil fervour. and the once joyous Boheme motives become quite pensive and still. Puccini's actual words. their sorrows and memories. as distinguished from those which carry us away and uplift us. It is no wonder that. draws him to her and tries once more to tell him all her love in a little ineffably fleeting recollections of her former life with her lover. 48 to Ricordi). e poco altro'. now sick unto death. moves us as We may here establish as a fact. . haunted melody of by out her tender words in half-whispered reminiscences of her in the earlier scene. Mimi. and the dance in which the friends take part with a gaiety too exaggerated to ring quite true. while her love-melody accompanies the poignantly sweet embrace of the lovers.

too. sense of release. or may lead us to the summits of human Puccini's name cannot be mentioned side by side experience. helpless love degradation. with those of Bach. and. followed by the latter's death. delicate washes of colour. though the use of colour means of dramatic characterization is as a brutal crash of the massed brass The infrequent. KurwenaPs exultant song when his consciousness. I and the may. with perhaps a few more. the incalzando effect of insistently accentuated in unison is now reserved strings chiefly for climaxes of passion ate agitation. and becomes more personal in its tone-colour and subtle nuances. the trio in Der Rosenkavalier and the hush that falls before it. it is no small thing that two or three of these ten supreme examples of pathos come from Puccini's hand. finish in and which do in fact rise to the most consummate But Butterflyy with its subtly delineated miniatures. for higher. Puccini is fond of those shimmering lights. who can tell on what roll of honour a grateful posterity may not name? add a word about his instrumentation. the distribution of colour more studied. and bring among them all in the truth with which he renders the touching voice of the poor. and possibly. the Minister's address in Fidelio: 'Euch. Beethoven.146 GIACOMO PUCCINI Tristan regains Meistersinger. it hardly ever blurs the significance of the words. But he is unique moment. allein'. Don Jos6's terrible despair at his shame. have overlooked some passages of this kind. but at any rate. now kept mainly for moments is still of catastrophe. which from may La Boheme onward steadily increases in sensitiveness and lucidity. edleFrau. and the vocal are supported by parts accompanying . as compared with the full brilliance and unsubtle lusciousness of tone that characterize the orchestration of Madame Manon Lescaut^ the blend of timbre has already become more discriminating. Others a greater may aspire possess greater power. though even when it revels most luxuriantly in inscribe his We beauty of tone. and Wagner. for this reason. suffering creature. sparse effects (Aussparungen) to which the term and 'Japanesque* might richly enamelled details be applied in painting.

and. like dropping tears. and yet. with the shimmer of mother-of-pearl and the transparency of water- open the score at random say at Mimi and Rodolfo's duet in G flat major in the third act. who was constantly having to use diplomacy in order to wring from the now recalcitrant librettists concessions which the composer himself. had failed to . above all. The same master hand shows itself at any part of the opera that we like to choose. in which the various instruments often take snatches of it up in turn. but intimate gradations of tone predominate. of cloying over-ripe sweetness. and I note the perfectly masterly way in which the accompaniment. trills indicate how false is their pretended composure part for one bar after which the till flute timidly accompanies the vocal the melody pours forth with the full only. whom they had come to regard as a cantankerous nuisance. scarcely audible tones of the flute. the flutes and clarinets wreathe a little sextolet about the third crotchet. to mark the pulse-beat of the melody. while the lower strings barely indicate the waltz in rhythm piquant notes on subdued tones. with the alternating pizzicato and bowed passages on the strings. grows into a theme. the soft murmur of the harp and the colour. as it were. the way in which Puccini uses the percussion instruments. The apparently effortless naturalness of this music and its unconstrained flow no longer show any traces of the labour or the infinitely scrupulous and self-tormenting care with which Puccini used to work. and the high the harps add their soft sparkle. would alone justify a separate study. as it were. resonance of the wood-wind and strings. Or the opening of muted Musetta's waltz-song. his ideas or A was contrary night of meditation and single word that checked the flow of to his feeling might cause him a whole letters full of exhaustive detail to his faithful adviser Giulio Ricordi. I light. that song of farewell to young love and happy life in common. little and quivering . where the singer is supported by the violins. with its note of childlike sadness. the much misused and hackneyed harp. while the scarcely perceptible syncopations of the clarinets seem.MELODIA AMOROSA 147 instruments .

by allowing him a political speech in the fourth act. But he had cause to vow that "this toast will be the death of me (questo brindisi sara la mia morte)'. They would send him ten or a dozen proposed stanzas. he would have had to die at least twenty times while he was writing the score of La Boheme alone. trating a whole symphony. was obvious that this not very witty parody of an electoral assembly was too much of a drag on the action. and impeded its progress at a moment when it was urgent to press on towards the conclusion. had been treated in rather a stepmotherly fashion. than some in the and nimble-fingered composers of to-day would do over orches is only as it should be. For instance. and wanted to allow him an arietta in the form of a toast. or senti more than a part in the vocal ensemble. He * ment'. it had in the end to be left out. and this Moreover. having little who been saw given an opening for a solo in the drinking-scene of the first act. worry far three trumpets longer over the question whether. of the finale of the second act.i 48 GIACOMO PUCCINI His over-conscientiousness caused him to obtain. or Illica im for this but it scenes of every sort. after all the fuss. His next idea was to compensate the wretched Schaunard . or when he himself found great difficulty in managing the instruments of percussion in the passage of the third act where the bells If he had ring. or two muted and the third not. provised far too many been as good as his word. he could not find the right point at which to insert this stupid drinking-song so that it should be an organic part of the whole structure. But we can see how quiveringly sensitive his nerves were at that time. so that it too was left out. indeed. He repeated this cry whenever Giacosa worked too slowly. he was anxious to give an opportunity for a short solo to the singer taking the part of Schaunard. so that. his practical stagecraft often influenced the plan of the scenes. for here the harassed librettists failed him. and once again the composer said that it would be the death of him. one should be muted and the others of the facile not. they were often stretched to breakingpoint. none of which were any use or again. How illuminating it is to compare the various versions .

on ist February 1896. for they all shrugged their shoulders. he in order to explore its every corner and discover its lodes. words.MELODIA AMOROSA and embellishments of the result arrived at libretto. ' and feel very smart Like Manon. to this 'musiquette'. either complaisantly or with a smile of condescension. this light music' by the 'superficial' Puccini. it though it was far from indulging in such enthusiasm as was Toscanini. slipped away with an To quote Puccini's own evasive 'Vedremo (We shall see)'. trusted the original productions of The Girl of the Golden West and Turandoty was exactly the right one to bring out with loving care all the delicate touches in the score. the had done at Manon. and the music was completed eight months later. to which were afterwards down vigorous. but as the uncertain. he went to the performance like a criminal going to execution. What a great artist!' This to the last scrap. as he is always being called. or even when he does not find them. no execution took place. a quality in which he . who listen. and. rearranging the text. and torments he suffered in inserting new matter. La Boheme was produced for the first time at the Teatro Regio. all of which is ignored by spectators. and realize what the course of his work. and great artist had already been in charge of Manon Lescaut^ en his yet delicate hand. whether critical or uncritical. Turin. in response to the Master's questions. as they eat marrons glads to its accompaniment. 149 final and then consider the all by Puccini through cutting out excrescences with his own hand. he exploits them in the most incomparable fashion. and Puccini's most consummate interpreter. though the conductor Napoleon among conductors. pulling it together. At form. of whom the Maestro once said: digs into it 'When like a miner the fellow gets a score into his hands. exactly three It took two years to reduce the libretto to its final years later. the earlier rehearsals Puccini was very confident. And when he finds them. However. The public was friendly. days went by he became more and more dubious and He felt that none of those about the theatre believed in the success of the piece.

He could not disguise from himself that the applause of the public was more in the nature of a courtesy to the composer of bation. bad Rodolfo'. the criticisms were. but added: 'You will have to listen to a That tenor's name was Enrico Caruso. and was extremely depressed at the indifference with which it was received. now vied with one another in disparaging La Boheme. ventured to extend . the per formance was felt to be no more than a good average one. prompt to hail The very gentlemen who had been so Manon as a masterpiece. Manon than and that all their plaudits had merely served of spontaneous appro to veil a But he was so securely confident of the opera's vitality and power of survival that he could not be misled or depressed either by the verdict of the public on the first per formance or. Puccini had felt an intense conviction of the merits of his work. will : played Puccini's Manon three years before.jo GIACOMO PUCCINI has had no equal save that remarkable operatic conductor Ernst von Schuch. and never forget it. In spite of the remarkable conducting.i . by the critics. bars of the orchestral epilogue. knows what it is to hear the music of a heart bleeding to death. in the long run. the tenor Gorga as Rodolfo. though it is true that he was hardly ever completely satisfied with a singer. not content with censuring it in the present. and without sufficient labour in music selecting and polishing (con poco lavorio di selezione e di limatura)\ and. when he met a friend and beginning invited him to a rehearsal of La Boheme at which a new tenor was demands from a singing. He must have had his own reasons for this. Toscanini was supported by com who had petent. as Mimi. but we can see how exacting were his delightful little episode that took place at the of the present century. grotesque though succes d'estime. if not outstanding singers Madame Ferrani. whom Puccini may really be said to have revealed to Any one who has listened to the few Germany. as rendered under his direction. Madame Pasini as Musetta. and Moro as Marcello. even by Puccini himself. Carlo Bersezio took the his Maestro to task in La Stamp a for having 'written in great haste.

so it will fail to leave upon the any strong trace in the history of our opera. sul pendio deplorevole di questa Boheme}. Another critic. * 1 . and we do not ask it without a question certain sorrow'. 'Just as 151 condemnation to the future. hazarding the bold prophecy La Boheme fails to leave any very strong impression listener. and with what assurance Yet how ridiculous their ver they distribute their censures dicts and vaticinations have become after the lapse of only a few Their words have been forgotten or laughed to scorn. Giovanni Pozza alone raised his voice in favour of the work and its composer. and predicted a great fortune for the opera upon the stage. the former that it is well written'. but Puccini had had the bad taste to prefer such men of letters as Illica and Giacosa to this journalist of dubious capacity. for he had himself approached the Master and offered to write the verse libretto. on the ground that it had so much to offer both to the Boheme (spinse . seized the opportunity for a nice little piece of revenge. Luigi Alberto considered that the music of La Boheme was not fit to Villani. How history repeats itself ! What airs of importance these hack writers on the arts give themselves. a painful one. and it will be well for the author to regard it as a momentary error. and he hypocritically implored the composer to return in future to the 'great and difficult contests of art'. The is connoisseur and to the profane : The latter will say that the music is beautiful. be anything but the recreation of a moment. . and a third. and to make up his mind that this has been a brief deviation from the path of art'. to pursue the right way boldly in future. Signor Berta of the Gazzetta del Popolo. years! but the work still lives. He now revenged himself in the following words: *We ask ourselves what it was that turned Puccini into the deplorable downward path of La .MELODIA AMOROSA his that.

a Friday might prove doubly unlucky. failed to appear. in April 1896. soon increasing to a warm affection for the characters for and music of the opera. when. was superstitious. a few weeks later. signal to start. days The fact that the sympathy of the public in Turin became more lively with every performance. moreover. which was particularly surprising. The oboist did arrive. Puccini had almost to use force to ductors. after and the performance lasted a whole hour longer than usual. who. and again met with a lukewarm reception. though this consciousness of worth had to suffer yet another shock. the. On the contrary. and. and hesitated to take his place at the desk. Two however. . There was make him give all. with Mascheroni as con ductor.CHAPTER IX (*TOSCA') to THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS PUCCINI did not allow the doubtful success of La Boheme cloud his spirits very long. at which we may note the curious fact that the part of Musetta was taken by Ada Giachetti. rather a mediocre artist. merely increased his confident sense of having produced something good and of permanent value. months every stage in Italy and abroad. and the oboist. for the unprecedented success of that evening carried the opera on to later. for. Caruso's first wife. it triumphed at last. when Leopoldo Mugnone conducted the work at Palermo. as At first. like many con yet another reason for this. a contretemps did occur. Mugnone. who is particularly important in this work. it had seemed though an unlucky star were presiding over this performance. for in no other city had Manon and its composer been greeted with such jubilant applause. was afraid lest the date. I3th April which was. in general. La Boheme was produced in Rome. indeed. as he had expected. after moping a few he set to work to see how justice might be done to it.

THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS is 153 and encores. and. and stamping went on till places. The state of the weather constantly recurs in his letters The Maestro indeed. really took place on this occasion. Rain and cold made him feel positively ill. He did not understand a word of French. but the play gripped him. always spent the winter in Milan. and operas both old and new. now director of the publishing house of Ricordi. i thing happened that was most unusual even according to Italian usages: the singers had to be fetched back from their dressing-rooms. the repetition of a death- scene. After finishing Edgar he had gone as usual to Milan. and had seen her act the part of Floria Tosca in Victorien Sardou's drama La Tosca. and when the skies were overcast his soul was even more clouded by melancholy than usual. his work absolutely depended upon the sunshine. which had become absolutely un pathetic scene of Mimi's expiring moments was therefore performed for the second time. was one of the most intimate. of Carlo Clausetti. the public could not be induced to leave their and the clapping. fectly effective operatic libretto was criterion for a per precisely this: that it should His be comprehensible without a single word being spoken. During the cold season he accordingly retired to the city. friends. He . and Mugnone leapt from the stage into the a result of innumerable calls r now half-empty orchestra. shouting. and responded of 'bis!* the handful of musicians to the continuous shouts from the public. with the frima controllable. He was. and that decided the matter. much as he loathed it. so phenomenon. and spent much time with his like a Leitmotiv. where Sarah Bernhardt whom happened to be playing at the Teatro dei Filodrammatici. above all. A plot that can be clearly grasped through the medium of miming alone was exactly what he wanted. and there enjoyed some relaxa He went to the theatres to hear plays tion from his labours. one of those His physical condition. who are 'the sport of every change of atmospheric pressure'. When the curtain ell at the end. collected who were still there. The that that inconceivable donna in her everyday clothes and Rodolfo without a wig.

the Impassioned clarinet-like timbre of her voice. excessively Sarah Bernhardt. yet at the same time repelled and He The considered actress. and her cloud of fair hair. the other piece was almost attracted. had added that. and the fundamental turning changes that would undoubtedly be necessary in the last act. there was one piece of Sardou's that he would have liked to set to music. which in Sardou's play takes place in the prison. and had persuaded Illica to compose the book for him.154 GIACOMO PUCCINI and The Girl of the applied the same test to Madame Butterfly Golden We$t\ for he and some friends who. strong. that sang of spring forgotten. and the impression they as the result of the merely scenic effect of the situations and the actors' gestures. did not understand English. however. sufficed to decide him to associate these scenes with his music. he became entirely absorbed In La Boheme and thought nothing more of the matter till he was alarmed by the report that Alberto Franchetti. The subject it love. in point of fact. indeed. so. had. On musica delF anima'. like him. This made such an impression on Puccini that he talked the whole question the adaptations that would be an opera. and that was La Tosca. that great master. with her exaggerated slenderness. in declining the offer made him by the French dramatist of his Patrie as a subject for an opera. After this. but. over Tosca> and when Murger's romance awoke to music everything within him him. whereas what he always wanted was of the soul. which. It even said that the completed libretto had been read to . but the piece as a whole had lacerated his nerves rather than appealed to his soul. saw both these plays by David Belasco carried performed in that language. however. the music the other hand his interest was naturally 'la stimulated by the fact that the aged Verdi. away He Henri hesitated a long time. and the over with Illica. if he were not too old. carried him away irresistibly at certain moments. a pupil of Michele Puccini. discussing it desirable in into successful composer of Asrael^ intended to set La Tosca to music. in Butterfly especially. had a direct emotional appeal.

Giacosa. Puccini was really a perfect Scarpia towards his collaborators. who was Franchetti's spirators publisher too. Naturally there was no turning back now. with so light a heart. Franchetti finally abandoned his plan. again. the first object of their labours was the book and the proper shaping of it. with good reason. and Ricordi. for sometimes they followed the old beaten track of operatic procedure. if at times rather aggressively. They succeeded with surprising rapidity. though he may often have regretted this afterwards. I have not been able to resist . and. and set work. and the process was again a stormy and tedious one. but it must be admitted that he was always in to the right. This time. to deprive him of all eagerness to is apparently. and the subtle discrimination with which. seemed to him the most A work at it. and that the points upon which he insisted were all for the good of the work as a whole. which the two authors found no laughing matter. but naturally preferred Puccini as a composer for La Tosca> undertook to disparage the book by degrees to the unsuspecting Franchetti. his sure instinct for the theatre. the subject that Puccini had renounced for so long. and. On the following day Puccini signed the contract with Illica. regular banquet of con took place: Illica and Ricordi. and that the Latin hymn sung by Cavaradossi before his execution had fired the venerable old master to such a point that he had snatched the pages out of the astonished Illica's hand and continued the reading himself in a voice quivering with emotion. in Verdi's presence. which not hard to understand. over and over again. desirable of all ideas for an opera. Now that another was to have it. for in the form in which it was then. the text was open to many weighty objections on artistic grounds. While comparing the different drafts of this operatic libretto. and sometimes they were incon ceivably lacking in taste. I have once more been forced to admire Puccini's rare insight into the essentials of a musical drama.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS Victorien Sardou in Paris. he stood out against the authors of the book. by raising doubts and objec tions with no apparent purpose.

and even Cavaradossi. the judge. or failed to see that in this piece. Scarpia of cruelty and lust. con- . experienced and talented though they were. I acclaim Puccini's error. the police agent. so that Puccini was forced to issue one ultimatum after another. Every time he recast. indulged in a whole series of such incom prehensible vagaries. for it wrung from him his most inspired music. which is swelled to a quartet by the voices of Tosca. but in this first version Cavaradossi sings a regular aria while he is being tortured. repugnant to me. but profoundly significant of the requirements and character of this strongly individual musician. It is hardly credible. and This is but one example out of Spoletta. more than in any other. because of this? interpolated a passage. which bears witness to both adherence to antiquated operatic con ventions. He was a born stage manager and producer. and to characters like wax puppets. abridged or made verbal alterations. who has personal traits that make him more like a human creature real The human than the rest I even the fine young Mario that. it from the aesthetic point of view. Tosca is that the torture scenes nauseate in spite of its popular success. but to the falsest and most feeling commonplace melodrama. seems to me beyond redemption me Hence the decision to set it music seems to me to have been a mistake. and every one of his proposals was not only absolutely to the point. as a is a mere marionette. before this result could be achieved. It is true that. people in this play are at best conventional figures. not beings. I find myself becoming abso indifferent to aesthetic considerations. to afresh every time. in the very first scene. In spite of this he or should we say. for these dramatic authors. But I must also admit that. They are mere masks. and lutely that. he was not consecrating his music to the expression of genuine human and soul-stirring emotion.156 including from the their GIACOMO PUCCINI among first the facsimiles in the present work an excerpt version of Tosca. and that. the change he made was a necessary one. bad taste and their many. after the duet between Mario and Tosca. must confess work of art. Tosca of jealousy and love.

The very fact of his reluctance subject is conclusive proof It is out of the question that he should not have of this. The only wonder was. perhaps even better than his own play. and how and hesitation in deciding upon the music with that truth of feeling and sincere humanity that were always what he most required. which is nearly fifty feet away. thing but amicable in character. is heart into it?' wrote Puccini on one occasion to his dearly beloved Signor Giulio.000 francs was quite a modest advance on account of his royalties. said Puccini. but the stage-manager too. too. insisted that the harassed Tosca should end her life by leaping from the Castle of Sant* Angelo into the Tiber. at which that old Mephistopheles. presence of Sardou. Indeed. and almost as if he had written the music as well. He started by trying to persuade Ricordi that 50. did he himself manage to out of the question that he should complete his Tosca ? It have put his whole heart into it. sparkling with wit all anew while the production vitality. incredible though they finally reached an agreement. a past-master of all the most subtle tricks of the theatrical craft. coarse theatricality of the subject. that he did not push the conductor out of his place and conduct the opera himself. from terrorizing them of Tosca at the Paris Opera-house was being rehearsed a few years Puccini wrote a most amusing account of how the old later. and devised a whole series of new horrors. if you do not put your whole How. But in spite of all this. realized the shocking. 'It looks as though Sardou means to kill Spoletta as well/ wrote Puccini to Ricordi with a groan. then. * How can you achieve anything. Puccini found two methods of doing justice to his music little scope it offered for . gentleman behaved as if he were not only the author. sketched plans for the scenery and stage effects.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS 157 ference after conference had to be held. it Sardou declared that the operatic libretto was may seem. though this did not and prevent the seventy-five-year-old dramatist. he bewildered Puccini and Illica by his talked plausible proposals. in the them all down. and these were any Some were held in Paris.

but only the voice of a steadfast. drops like a hawk into the midst of this solemn. Va. in the finale swells with its imposing Te Deum. The words of the famous aria in B minor march were originally those of the Latin hymn to art. See Puccini's letter of 12 October 1899 to Ricordi. sad. the abstract essence of these in a music that is. Seldom has he risen to a grander intensity than fervent union. however. which and magnificent. he has piece than anywhere. What abstract. in which we hear none of the flaming passion and unrestrained exultation that usually characterize Puccini's cantilena in his love-songs. inflamed by a mocking frenzy of sensuality. printed in Adami's Epistolario. Tosca! (Go. accompanied by the forth. or subjugates them by its brutality. we can hear death these bars. Tosca!) '.158 GIACOMO PUCCINI in this which. so bleeding with inward anguish as Cavaradossi's farewell to life. to ensure that it should be ceremonially correct. or so grimly terrible. the inno latino^ which had filled Verdi with such violent enthusiasm. perhaps displays greater genius To quote his own expression. we must repeat. anything but as it were. the composer asked the advice of his friend Don Pietro Panichelli. within. as the soldiers itself in sombre. incisive music to which the picket of off to shoot Cavaradossi. terror. nobility of mind. but emotions: love. expression in song. longing for freedom. 'coloured (cokrito]" l the drama rather than illuminated it from he expressed in music was not people. . The sinister ardour of Scarpia's triumphant cry. only to join with bigoted exaltation in the fanatically pious chant of the congregation and choir imme Seldom has he written anything so mortally diately afterwards. whether has the Maestro written music suffused with a more tranquil warmth and a gentler glow than in the first duet between Tosca and Cavaradossi. jealousy. glorious a brazen clang of the bells and the thunder of the cannon of the first act. 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. fear. brutality or gloating cruelty here find direct emotions being. like a chill hand clutching at the heart. Puccini. a priest in * Rome. interpreted it insinuates itself into our sensibilities by its Seldom sensuous charm. sonorous music. passage in which.

not quite appropriately. and as such has become famous. for he felt reflections upon art to be simply inconceivable at a moment of such intense emotion. or else the final phrase of nearly all the melodies assigned to the character of Tosca. He the most rousing and revolutionary thing that ever broke forth from the soul of a composer who was. so far from revolutionary. a tiny motive keeps 'Vissi d'arte recurring. All this is music. wildly sobbing melody. of which its shrieks and wailing outcries it (Love and music. but only in spontaneously emotional impulses. which. and cannot be drawn upon I think either at will or by the greatest constructive virtuosity. but afterwards mounts upwards in the passionate accents of the song and of the orchestral tissue woven about it till we almost imagine that we can see despairing arms uplifted and the wringing of hands. a distracted lament. though even in itself in always of truly Latin beauty and breadth. known. none the less comes from the very well-spring of that inventive faculty which is a gift from on high. as the 'Prayer*. phrases expresses In all in whose very tumult we can trace a cultivated taste.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS however. while listening to the work of a contem- . and is like the impress of her seal upon them all. raging. which her excess of now grief turns to a shriek. as a rule. which not only closes the first part of this prayer. and similarly. the only thought possible in these circumstances being an aching memory of the one thing that Cavaradossi felt any pain at leaving behind him his Floria and could never find inspiration in anything coldly intellectual. these have I lived for)'. For this reason Mario's flaming 'Vittoria (Victory! Victory!)' was her love. now moaning. felt 159 simply unable to write any music for them. Moreover. consisting in four strongly accented notes leading up to a full close. this miniature motive forms the central. is felt to be the perhaps climax. it was Rossini who once. the burning ardour and wild lamen tation of Tosca's cantilena passages during the hideous torturescene are perhaps the most harrowing he ever turned to music a passionate. these impetuous outbursts of the agonized woman. if not august in its nobility.

. was not suited to Puccini's nature. in which. for the expression of the stark insensibility. of which we are unpleasantly reminded in this particular scene. a moment unmitigated by single of warmer feeling. as Scarpia calls it point at which Puccini had originally intended to introduce a But the final duet between the lovers. for in his eyes this was the one decisive criterion as to whether a musician had had the grace of inspiration vouch which the most skilful thematic was of secondary importance. again. that safed to him. for much of the rest falls short of it. and the cantata. suddenly pricked up his ears and said. while the part of Scarpia is weakly conceived. and smiling elegance of this unhuman creature with his diabolical threats of torture. All action in required is to provide a suitable musical atmosphere. almost laboured. It must be admitted. with its silvery charm. sinister resolu tion. in order still further to heighten the tense atmosphere accom the deeds of horror. 'Questo e inventore! (This man is a discoverer!)*. is stiff. for everything in them contributes toward the effect. Tosca's voice is heard in the 'luogo di a lagrime (place of tears)'. piece by Paisiello. though even here it is remarkable what colour he has succeeded in achieving at certain moments.i6o GIACOMO PUCCINI porary about which there was considerable controversy. indeed. There can be no development doubt that he would have conferred the honourable title of inventore upon Puccini too. But a further element is also to present. is that during Cavaradossi's examination. The same purpose is served by panying the gavotte. which is more plainly be felt in this opera than in any of the Master's earlier ones. as is. in comparison with genuine inspiration can be conceded only to the preponderating Puccini's part of Tosca. and too superficial. understandable. as we have experienced at the cinema. accompanying some parts of the revoltingly horrible torture-scene by music that is mere noise is perhaps venial: there are situations of such overwhelming imstage whether in the good or the bad sense of the word pressiveness that it is almost a matter of indifference with what music they are accompanied. cold. though.

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PUCCINI WITH THE LIBRETTISTS OF TuTMldot CARICATURE OF CARUSO BY PUCCINI .

the presentiment of something terrible. as it and presenting. and the lilting the scene with the rhythm of their glee. and when the second Scarpia motive. the music at once begins to suggest a depressing atmosphere of menacing danger. it had been present even before this: the very three chords. even those of a lyrical tran quillity and brightness. sacristan and choirboys. a portrait in miniature of Scarpia and his arbitrary power. imagining all the time that he can hear police spies close on his trail. out on the orchestra one after the other without warn crashing first A were. which never ceases to haunt us. is somehow tainted with fear. but the same dread quivers in the music and robs gladness fails to . The dread that steals into the church on Scarpia's entrance is the direct outcome of his personality and of the presence of his prying myrmidons. From the moment when Angelotti. The association of ideas suggested by what we see on the stage undoubtedly does much to contribute towards this oppressive feeling of a horror that cannot be averted. enters the church with timid haste. during which a storm-cloud seems to hover Even the comical merriment of over the unsuspecting lovers. Indeed. seem to throttle one. and their communicate itself to the hearer. the common chords of B flat. with its four diatonically descending notes in the sharp timbre of the piercing ing. who has just escaped from the prisons of the Castle of Sant' Angelo. The same sense of oppressive expecta tion overshadows even the tender love-duet between Tosca and Mario that follows. but rather the nameless dread that quivers in this music. gigantic hands of torturers were reaching out after the fugitive. that permeates everything in turn. and E. flat. poignantly reinforced by the brass and the shrill tone of the violins. loses itself in a series of chords descending into nothingness.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS I 161 do not mean the hidden sadness which casts a slight shadow over every one of these melodies. wood-wind. of something sinister and crushing. we almost feel step by step and dying away as though the invisible. and 'grips the listener by the throat from the very first bar. the insuperable feeling that some lurking evil is slowly approach ing. equally terse and incisive.

formed by the diminished Scarpia sinister than the more theme. and kneeling with superstitious piety by his side. it is a piece of rank falsity to nature committed for the sake of a crude But. abominable though stage effect. the whom it murder of Scarpia. it is none the less produced by unerring means. that accompanies Tosca's words.1 62 of all GIACOMO PUCCINI colour. is a great deal worse than a mere psychological impossibility. The words at the close of this act are unbearably theatrical: the scene in which the murderess leaves her victim solemnly lying in state. which we hear with a catch of the breath. it and when it is repeated after not only suggests a lament over his justifiable murder. But now all this seems to die away in a conventional figure. this effect is. but further suggests the death of both Tosca and Cavaradossi. soft hardly be conceived in music. . after placing candles on each side of him. which seems to pierce our nerves like the stabs of the instrument of torture. 'Sgomento alcun non ho (Nor do I feel alarmed)'. purports to save. of notes that accompanied Scarpia's hypocritically insinuating and lustful advances. none the less betraying a sense of oppression. at the same time betrays the fact that the painter's death is at hand. and that Scarpia is cheating the singer of his life. the suave motive of the first duet of the lovers recurs for piece of stage effectiveness: for at this point Puccini has one of his moments of First we hear the succession inspired intuition. It swells to gigantic the second proportions in act. it Anything bodingly entrance grim. will really die. funereal motive heard on Cavaradossi's and accompanying his removal to the torture-chamber. laying a crucifix on his breast. anything more agonizing than the apparently unconcerned phrase. any thing more diabolically sadic than the accompaniment to Scarpia's 'che ad ogni niego sprizza sangue senza merce (from which a jet of blood spirts out at every denial) '. grave. the feigned sorrow in which. melody on the strings while the monster is writing the safeconduct already implies the knowledge that Mario. Yet I would not for anything dispense with even this crude expressed however. can The infinitely poignant. onward. from the opening bars.

in place of the lifeless apostrophe to art. while. now. one of those which he had himself { life. Hitherto he had written about his work ironically. as his fellow-townsmen of Lucca called it in their local dialect. is a letter extant from the Maestro to Ricordi. from his librettists did his for instance. and the vague. which even There the music could not altogether allay. while at the same time it is a triumph of the eternal truth of music over the of a calculating theatrical falsity faintly. Puccini defended himself and his music earnestly and with a fine dignity. but always in a jesting tone. and followed by an almost inaudible drum beat. cracking jokes about his 'Neronian instincts (istinti neroniane)'. mingled with a proud modesty. The effect is and vaporous. he used a tone of self-respect. that is in the merits of curiously impressive: 'Nor is [my confidence Act III of Tosco] I colour due to pride. as though the dead man's last shadowy sighs still moment like a the drums floated along the walls. when he had to defend the completed work. Puccini's works. who had felt doubts about the fatherly third act of the opera. not entirely without reason. echoed in a triad sounded ghostly by the flutes and harp. (and now I die introduced into Mario's farewell to Only when he had to wring some concession brow appear to contract in a frown in connexion with the phrase e muoio disperato despairing) '. and making fun of himself as the 'maestro cuccumeggiante (composer of "Harlots' Operas")'. his friend and publisher. for the purpose of indicating the predominant atmosphere which he required for But the whole scene. notes on the strings.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS a 163 gleam of light. shuddering sound of the gong. but to my conviction that the have given to the drama with which I had to deal is the . in the distance. recalling Tosca's love. it gives me a cold and perhaps it is the most powerful in the whole of shudder. the roll of that escort the condemned man to his death is heard with ghastly distinctness. The effect is such that even now. and at times even a little plaintively. yet imagination. after hearing the work so often. and then the dread chords symbolic of Scarpia seem to expire in deep.

and his through unerring eye for stage effect proved itself more than ever in Tosca. as printed in the Epistolario <Non e orgoglio mio. young to hear of operatic composers of to-day. capable'. but that is fine stuff. that is intentional this cannot be and tranquil situation like that in other love-duets/ . however. meglio potevo il dramma die mi stava dinanzi. non puo essere una situazione uniforme e tranquilla come in altri duetti d'amore 5 . was once sitting next a critic at a performance of La Boheme^ when he suddenly exclaimed: 'The devil! People what they like. the way in which he used the device of repeating motives with a menacing monotony. They own unaided efforts. and firmly believed that he would yet convince his 'caro papa Giulio\ Never before had he worked with Nor was he mistaken. such a remarkable feat in the purely dramatic use of music that The every young composer should study it and learn from it. la convinzione Quanta alia . were: di aver colorito come non Puccini's actual words. and complained of the obstinacy of his literary collaborators in writing many passages not at all as he wanted them. which he had. whose success prefer to fail by their selves. 'and work all the night').164 best of GIACOMO PUCCINI which I pleads like an advocate for the final love-duet. which at the same time is provided relaxation from all the he avoided effect horrors. only to relieve the tension at the right moment by a siren-like melody. while still obtaining the utmost of suspense. least of all from the despised is Puccini. no. frammentarieta. Possibly. (12 October 1899 to Ricordi). a uniform He. too. The nice calculation by which dawn all that was tedious. absolutely refuse learning from others. one of the chief of the purists who were opposed to Puccini. salvaged from the fourth act that had been cut out of 'As for its frag Edgar. e cosa voluta da me. such artistic till insight as during those nights when he composed ('I sleep during the daytime/ he says. quite enough to condemn him. however. by the way. they use different language I can state as an absolute fact that a among them distinguished French composer. felt certain doubts. am 1 He mentary character. but he hoped that the faults would disappear in performance. it is may say competent 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. .

timid melodies were sung as such. was given rather a poor welcome. indeed. everything is just right! indeed a formidable fellow (un rude lapin) only one must not And the critic added: 'There may be things in it so'. were then felt to be too novel and audacious. more warmly and flatter ingly than they deserved. but. And even to-day there are many who have not the courage to say so. that their melody seemed vague and blurred. want It is and the a curious thing that. and more like glorified declamation. whereas his works of mature artistry met with an almost bewildered reception.THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS 165 Only listen to that! He is work. in spite of many signs of immaturity. Teatro Costanzi. and what a long time elapsed before Mimi and Rodolfo's tender. works. but such has been my opinion for a long time only I durst not say so openly'. say that are exaggerated. which seem to us almost too tame and obvious. fact that his own personality was not yet quite clearly first revealed in them. on I4th January 1900. if anything. instead of being attacked with conviction as what . when performed for the first time at the hostility. the author was called before the curtain five or six times at the end of each act. Puccini's operas were received not only without opposition. and not declaimed tentatively by the singers as though they were passages interpolated into a recitative. I remember what a curious shock. Even at the banquet after the Berlin performance of The Girl of the Golden West^ the still German composers were They know perfectly well what Puccini unrepresented. and that their pungent and full-flavoured harmony was regarded as wilfully bizarre. not to say consternation. or perhaps they do not stands for. Rome. if not with positive Even Tosca. This must. though some of the separate numbers were greeted with great applause. without any clear-cut vocal line. but they 'may not say so' to. was caused by the consecutive fifths in La Boheme and the piquant effect of the chromatic chords. have been so. and the whole finale of the last act was repeated in response to the It is possible that these audience's eagerly expressed desire.

he was once to strike up the Royal March or the Italian National But nothing did happen. which had mutilated a number of people. that were almost too much for weak the nerves. which are only bear witness to the living merits of the music. this occasion Leopoldo Mugnone. But expiate his besides this. The curtain had to be lowered. and after this the performance proceeded without any further Anthem. the birds of ill-omen were hissing and croaking. who. the fact that. This was partly because a certain clique had spread the report that the critics were going to be more severe this time. and would show rather less indulgence than usual for the un in fact. though nobody knew exactly what was the matter. vitality of the operas. In was even stated that a bomb outrage might be expected. and were It calculated to produce an uneasy atmosphere in the house. the reserve that was shown in accepting the new musical idiom. and his state of mind was not improved when a friendly police official impressed 7 . except that people began shouting and making a disturbance at the very beginning of the first scene> though merely as a protest against late arrivals. upon him at that.166 they really were. for during an operatic performance at Barcelona he had actually witnessed a bomb outrage. He could therefore remember the terrible scene. if anything of the kind were to happen.. was 'as nervous as he was sure of his effects was on this occasion far more nervous than sure of his effects. still more. for the public was out of temper and restive from outset. to quote the Master. GIACOMO PUCCINI But this very hesitation and. all sorts of rumours were going the round. that they meant deniable defects in Puccini's music to make the Maestro undeserved successes. . and was even more timorous and reluctant to start the performance than he had been at the original production of La Boheme. at its first performance. short. the atmo Small wonder that on sphere was charged with electricity. but rose again ten minutes later. with a reception which cannot be called more than barely polite confirmed by the lasting was due to a reason having nothing to do with the work itself or the effects of terror in it. Tosca met Moreover. and.

who took the part of Tosca. overflowing melody and elevated style. been realized. though less varied. Marchetti. would be a mere piece of gratuitous repetition to waste more irony at the expense of the critics. moreover. like the including the production. recognized leader among modern Italian operatic composers. between the stage action and the music: La It * Tosca is not suited to Puccini's temperament. Mascagni at that of who was present at La Boheme. at least. bravura Puccini had displayed in mastering a subject which was to a large extent ill adapted for musical treatment. incisive. 167 The tenor De Marchi's first had greeted with loud and instantaneous applause. while be deplored that he should have ventured upon an experiment the fruitlessness of which cannot have escaped him*. they were any Scarcely one of them observed what thing but unanimous. not to say discordance. . and Madame Darclee. which had hampered Puccini's imagination. who had all put in an appearance for the purpose of acclaiming a fresh victory on the part of the Cilea. Yet outside Italy. its success was on the whole dubious. But voices were also raised in enthusiasm over the wonderful music. On this occasion. and show how any wrong they were. and a third characterized the music as 7 'elegant . At the end of the last act the audience. 'It is to ' said one. 'as soon as the anxiety and nervousness of the first performances have worn off This future has. and a sure and successful future was prognosticated for the work. indeed. was applauded to the echo when she appeared at the was numbers aria Maestro's side. together with the ministers and senators. and light than usual. as he had been loyal old friend that he was and other Italian operatic composers. Tosca has made its way more slowly than Puccini's 1 .THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS untoward incidents. None the less. five to be repeated. and another remarked: considered that the weakness of the work lay in the heaviness with which the colour was laid on ? and the defective psychology of the drama. hardly knew whether to congratulate Puccini or condole with him. In spite of all this. certain of them were conscious of the disparity.

1 68 GIACOMO PUCCINI other operas* This may be due partly to the brutality of the dramatic action . In Germany.. but the translations of the libretto cannot be exonerated from a share in the guilt. 1 A German translation . short passage dealing with the of the Tosca libretto has been omitted at this point. 1 . at any rate. As the translators sacristan says: 'Gia sono impenitenti tutti quanti' are incorrigible. the whole lot of them 1 TRANSLATORS NOTE.. the opposition with which Tosca has met is certainly due quite as much to the very cavalier treatment with which the libretto associated as to with such pregnant music has been subjected the crudities of Sardou's sensational drama.

lives his own life. For a large part of the year. and who serve the purpose of megaphones for his artistic exploits. all that need engage the critic's attention with any particularity is the fate of some particular work. journalists. and sincere admirers. journeys and abroad in connexion with their production. comes to an end. whether he find them welcome or not. easily compre hensible. but it provides no subjects of interest for him whose business it is to examine the artist's character and work. his biography . personality. monopolizes his time. During periods when the externals of life follow a uniform course. which is. however. negotiations with librettists. the receipt of official honours. for whom he must always be in readiness. as well as attendance at ceremonial receptions and banquets. it is superfluous to record them in detail. and loads him with responsibilities and burdens that he cannot refuse without prejudicing the outward success and resounding fame of his work. conductors. often. interviewers. managers. his existence has to be regulated like a machine. It causes him to be pestered by people directors. auto graph-hunters. so soon as an artist's life comes under the influence of the fixed sign of fame and universal recognition. it is lived for him. unfortunately. the true sense of the word. and by the time he has 169 . at least. All this is not without its practical importance.CHAPTER X A ROMANCE OF JAPAN (^MADAME BUTTERFLY') By a curious phenomenon. which can no 7 longer be shaken even by isolated failures. singers. for his own private Supervision of the rehearsals of his works. and the time-table that governs it is no longer arranged by himself. become his duty. or some out-of-the-way experience of the author. in * The artist no His fame dictates longer how his day is to be employed.

. calmly shutting out all these accompaniments of fame. were: c . who always behaved idiot TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. as printed in the Epistolaric. the banquets arranged in his an absolute agony to him. Apart from these exceptional the artist's attitude only one thing is of importance to him towards these things. and the acceptance or rejection of which provides a key to his qualities as a man. whether willingly or reluctantly. Odio i palazzi! Odio i capitelli! Odio i stili! Amo lo bello stile del Odio il cavaUo. vapore. And there are a very few who manage to maintain their isolation. Puccini's actual words. 1 . il gatto . tall I hate horses. not the resigned type.170 GIACOMO PUCCINI reached this stage of his career. . and ignoring the demands of their professional career. whether cheerfiil or exasperating. . Some are ruined by success and deteriorate through vanity. . tion . and once in Paris he 'ill flew into a perfect rage capitals! I and wrote: 'I hate palaces! dress!' I hate dogs! hate styles! hate steamers. . . non sono nato per far la vita dei salotti e dei ricevimenti! A che pro esponni a far la figura del cretino $ * dell' irnbeciU?? . il/r^K 2 Letter of 15 May 1898 to Ricordi in the Epistolarioi *A me un invito a pranzo mi fa star male una settimana . . dell' abete. but without losing or belying their true selves. but he was one of the letters His from foreign A dinner or luncheon invita made him honour were I for a week'. . them and hold nothing of importance but their work. others enter into this round of busy occupations in a common-sense spirit. and pedigree hats. which are often detrimental to his character. il cane di lusso! Odio il pioppo. and evening 1 He rebelled furiously against the restraints of society: 'All per suasion is useless : I was not born for the life of drawing-rooms and receptions! Why should I risk playing the part of an and an imbecile?' 2 Yet in the end he gave in. capitals are one long jeremiad. Puccini belonged to the second class despairing. for they are selves indifferent to success and outward effect. . dis regarding its very echoes. il cappello a cilindro. or else leaving their friends to do such things as appear to be absolutely necessary. however much he might invoke the example of Verdi. nothing important of this sort incidents occurs very frequently. .. cats. with a superior smile or in despairing resignation.

During least. non avendo (I note. it is true. it seems extremely odd that during the last twenty years of his life. though those pauses in his work that he dreaded. of one of his operas. Again. when he felt unable to write a he was bored to death: *Io mi noio a morte. in large parties at he could be charming in a tete-a-tete. astonishing symptom of all. wrote shortly after completing Tosca. to during all conversations. It is to take up the astonishing. Puccini never took advantage of any of those pauses .A ROMANCE OF JAPAN as 171 less he found most convenient to himself. that was not already familiar to him. would have had in founding correct the more remarkable. silent remain and especially when he could not go shooting. When he had not at least a prospect of finding a new libretto. and give his own interpretation baton. since there were few conductors with whom he entirely agreed and scarcely any singers with whose performance he was quite satisfied. that he could never be induced even as a pure pastime. when worldly prosperity was being showered upon him. When he was abroad he made no attempt to win people's good graces by his His friend Carlo Clausetti says that he preferred amiability. he It is hardly conceivable. but is all he never conducted a single one of his own works. with the exception of those in which he hoped to find a subject for an opera. most times. he did not particularly enjoy life. old or new. for I have nothing to do)'. yet none the had a 'bit of a career (quel po' po' di camera)'. and never looked at any music. quite apart from the value that such an authoritative rendering It traditions of style. too. and. and nature had little to say to him when he had not a gun over his shoulder. he was moody. nulla da fare am bored to death. But he devoted all his energy to following the great old master's example as far as was in his power. but this composer with such a wealth of inspiration never read a book. It is as though he confidently left in the hands of God the processes of his development and growing maturity. he took refuge in his At these retreat on the shores of the lake as often as he could. and the enrichment of his inner life.

and Cologne into Holland. not to speak of those from that he might ha^e brought back fresh booty. during which he less felt as happy as a boy at wandering through foreign countries for sheer pleasure. producing a sort of spiritual fever. and all sorts of technical everything inventions. until he could succeed in extricating it from this internal chaos by means of a new libretto and clothing it in form. a tyrannical dictator who could not be absent without endangering his intentions. he had become unmanageable during his phases of enforced leisure. making short. in so far as that was possible. and remained absolutely impervious even to intellectual and artistic impressions. It is evident his librettists were at work. He had also become an ardent motorist. mented within him. yielded him such fruitful results in three of which he China. As the a significant fact! frequently happens with musicians Master had from an early age had an almost childlike predi lection for mechanical devices. and not merely for professional reasons. or at least visit those exotic lands whose his works Japan. after the creative effort of writing an opera and the years of high tension felt. his son and one of his friends.GIACOMO PUCCINI round music had the world. Wiirzburg. and. was incognito. During the later years of his life. however. who his accompanied by He enjoyed good-humour and the myriad tokens of love and respect shown him everywhere. exhausted and incapable of taking in any impressions save those of the life to which he that this involved. as it were. could not bear to be far away while He was the most important partner in the combination. or else. can think of only two explanations: either he was always over We fer flowing with music to such an extent that it. Yet surely this would not have applied to those in his work that were imposed upon him by fate to travel : periods when he had no subject to engage his attention. he was accustomed. as it were. and sometimes considerable excursions from Viareggio. above all. which gave him a double pleasure when radiant . On one occasion he even made a week's trip through Nurem berg. and California. and taken a great interest in connected with machines.

but it is significant of the superstition which the Master shared with so many of his fellow-musicians that he took the place and its name as symbolic. being .A ROMANCE OF JAPAN 173 he had not been recognized. roast goose. we are full up'. The memory of this journey has been preserved in a chronicle. may possibly have had tragic after-effects. Cologne and could not find a 'I lodging anywhere. hungry and exhausted after his long journey. Of course he had no idea of this at the time. it his fingers in his usual unconventional fashion in order to pick thoroughly. of which he partook with the best of appetites. and meeting with Puccini persisted in his demands. splinter of it remained in his mouth. taking the bone in travelled many luncheon. now in the keeping of Tonio Puccini. Ingolstadt/ he would say. appearance. for. is none the less a symptom of the almost though merely trivial in legendary popularity of Puccini's music. just The motor had already as they were in the heart of Europe.* late at night. one which. the porter politely repeating that there were no arriving at the seventh. however. but everywhere received the answer: at the door of six hotels in am sorry. and simply refused to move. insignificant though it may be in itself. On the same response. A A bone with his forceps. and another which. when a halt was called at Ingolstadt for Puccini ordered his favourite dish. miles. and. for only two years later the end had come. conscious that I am but anticipating further revelations. but he was still unsuccessful. I here reproduce two incidents from it. doctor had stuck in his throat. and came to a head shortly afterwards. for his melodies were sung both in the Polar regions and in the Australian bush. It is more than that this little accident was responsible probable for the fact that the chronic laryngitis from which Puccini had suffered for a long time degenerated into the malignant and fatal affection that had probably been latent in him for long past. written in very jovial verse and embellished with delightful caricatures. They rang succession. and held them respon sible for the unpleasant incident. to be sent and removed the little * "means in-gola-$tat They arrived in it sticks in one's throat.

He was just about to shut the door. Had not Puccini left again early the next morning. and asked him in a The man was very humble voice: 'Do you know La BohemeT at the sudden and taken aback at first. that the thought of the tedium . good man was still and sang them something simply abominably. however. *I know Tosca and Butterfly too.174 GIACOMO PUCCINI rooms disengaged. Things cannot go on like this/ he once .' well. Twenty-five years earlier.' interrupted 'Ah.' said Puccini. he was not yet so famous. since he received no answer from the 'infernal American' written such a genuine and touching tragedy about a Japanese girl. consisting of three oneact pieces an Inferno^ a Purgatorio^ and a Paradiso^ each of which was to be a separate little drama. but just recognizable by those who knew the opera thoroughly. both the diction and the melody being very dubious. who had little Next. and the Maestro very modestly. and then indignant I fail to unexpected question: 'Of course I do! How could know it? I have heard it often and often at the theatre!' 'Ah. 7 . The worst time of all was after the first production of Tosca^ when he simply could not find a new libretto. if you are Puccini!' he shouted joyfully and rooms were found for them. His thoughts kept returning to the idea of a Dante trilogy. to his astonishment. whether drawn from the Divine Comedy or invented independently. and chafed with fury at the inaction of his ' librettists. after which he added . C : of Paradise aroused positively purgatorial feelings in him. he desired to compose music for Oscar Wilde's Florentine Tragedy^ out of which Alexander von Zem- But he soon linsky afterwards made such a successful opera.' 'Very proudly. The 'do sing us something out of it! more amazed. when the Master seized him by the coat-sleeve. but none the less flattered. and was far more impatient when his work languished. he would have had to let the hotel porter sing him every single one of his operas. and described it to his friends till he observed. He was full of enthusiasm for this plan. so that he ultimately dismissed the idea to the infernal regions. abandoned this idea too. I am Puccini.

d'Annunzio had to be Alchiapproached on the subject of a drama with the title of shall Things had got U central figure was to be Cecco d'Ascoli. one in North America. and took more pains over the work than ever. He German *in as 1 translation as Linkerton. . sempre piu mi ci appassiono. as printed in the Epistolarto . he wrote. confound him! settled the plan of the piece in his own mind he might have two acts. such as he had never felt before. to change. (letter of 20 Nov. presto saro cadavere (if not. deavoured to make Mr. soon be a corpse)'. Illica would novel. out of the If only the original text would arrive 1 *I am in . and to this end had TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. . Pinkerton (rendered in the trifling objections.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN 175 exclaimed in exasperation when he had heard nothing from Giacosa for ten whole days Imagine! Ten whole days! and I his threats of dying became c sinister in their frequency. evidently in order to avoid confusion with the famous detective of the same name) sing American a fashion as possible'. still failed to send any : While awaiting his reply Puccini had answer. Illica dal romanzo poi troverebbe certamente quanto occorre'. proved to be unsuited to his purposes. the author of which. Ah! Favessi qui con me per lavorarmela! Penso che invece di un atto se me potrebbero fare due e belli lunghL II primo nel Nord America e il secondo a! Giappone. the other in Japan. . too. F. and Puccini threw himself into the work in an unspeakably blissful mood. se no. B. certainly supply what was required afterwards. For the first time he had a book with which he was thoroughly satisfied. Ah ! work on only itP x if had before passionately excited I am about me here. had an American tragedy of a geisha by David Belasco. Puccini's actual words. 1900 to Ricordi) were: *Io dispero e mi torturo Fanima almeno anivasse la risposta da New York! *Quanto pin penso alk Butterfly. In the this. apart from a few 'plunged deep into it' with the greatest He en joy. if I could an answer from New York! The more only get I think of " " Butterfly I the it more it. . 'and my mind is in a state of torment . despair/ he wrote. so that I could set to At last Belasco's consent arrived. Next. meantime the Maestro kept reverting enthusiastically to Madame mista^ in which the but Butterfly .

176 recourse to the GIACOMO PUCCINI somewhat naive device of weaving into his music here and there as a motive the successive notes of the common On chord with which the American national anthem opens. he said. with her strange. for instance. which was none the less so profoundly enable stirring. twittering voice. 1902 to Ricordi). Symptoms of a diabetic tendency also appeared. and he often felt a slight weakness due to a touch of fever. Ambasciatrice del Giappone* . Not subject. poiche nomi e femminile. danno . 1 Next he abruptly decided to jettison a whole act. he committed the only expected without fail. so he made up his mind to call upon the Japanese ambassador's wife at Viareggio. however. dramatic error in his life. a fiasco was to be In this. Non . He took infinite trouble over trifling details. ha trovato giusto il signora Ohyama. and insisted upon having two only. He hesitated. to divide what remained into three acts again. the scene of which was to have been laid in the Consulate. and hear what she would have to tell him about all these names. perche la suggestrvi e consoni al tipo e al carattere nei loro drammi*. he was radiant with joy. such. non appropriate. but suspect any more it never occurred to the doctors to serious trouble. were: 4 Ho avuto adesso la visita della . resonance in his voice. as printed in the Efistolario (18 Sept. for otherwise. to But now the worst thing that could possibly have happened him took place. But none of this was able to check his creative frenzy. he was forced to suspend his work for nearly 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. nome dei di Yamadori. however. and there were others that puzzled him. the purpose of the advice of Illica he paid a visit to Milan for seeing the great Japanese tragic actress Sada Yacco. But the actual words of Puccini's letter. He was thoroughly fired with his and hardly troubled about his physical condition. and when the results were successful. e poi. frequently accompanied by a curious huskiness and loss of as the names. or Sganami. Izaghi. Yamadori* sounded too womanish for the name of a prince. such as Sarundapiko. even an indisposition was allowed to keep him from his work. in order that the memory of its timbre might him to infuse a more genuine * racial colour into his own music. though he suffered constantly from a slight throat trouble.

which reduced 177 him to a state of the blackest The Maestro. for he was lying unconscious under the and motor with a broken benzol. I am doubtful Chi lo sa? pleased with it/ without the old hesitating. depression. Who knows. leg. but. almost smothered by the fumes of Fortunately the accident had taken place close to the house of a doctor. with his usual obstinacy. even though he meant to pay - a visit to the dentist at Lucca on the following day. but. (Who knows?)* of former days. Setting aside all reference to the music for the moment. while the chauffeur lay writhing in the ditch with a broken leg. Puccini himself had once more fallen thoroughly under the spell of his dreams. with its tender but compelling power of suggestion. had spent the evening of 25th February 1903 in his native town. remained uninjured. with their sad sweetness and exotic illusions. motor crashed into Tonio were thrown a tree and overturned. through the evaporation of all that was superfluous. with the result that the out. Puccini had to have his leg put in plaster. and even more so when he was able to hobble a few steps every day by himself. whether the music of Madame Butterfly. may not have accumulated an even more concentrated force as a result of this the work for long confinement. The chauffeur failed to notice a sharp curve. we may lay it down once and for all that Man on Lescaut is still a had every N . as it were. yielding up its very quintessence. accompanied by his wife and son. He was happy when he at last recovered enough to be pushed along the lake-shore in an invalid chair. Puccini. and was not allowed to leave his bed for months. indeed. and from time to time a letter to Ricordi would report: 'Work is going on well. not unnaturally. And he right to be pleased with it.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN eight months. however. first on crutches. he could not be dissuaded from returning home after nightfall. who administered first-aid on the spot. and then by the aid of two sticks. by a miracle. But even before this he had already resumed which he had been longing so vehemently. Donna Elvira and shrieking with pain. was nowhere to be their agonized shouts died away without any response seen.

iy8

GIACOMO PUCCINI

mere puppet play, Tosca and The Girl of the Golden West have scenes worthy of a chamber of horrors and theatrical in the bad sense of the word, while // Tabarro is theatrical in the good sense, Suor Angelica suggests an altar-piece transferred to the from the best stage, and Gianni Schicchi is directly derived
traditions of the Italian commedia dell' arte^ being a burlesque of

such bewilderingly exuberant
about
its

humour

that

we
it

Verisimilitude'

besides

which,

hardly trouble does not strain

and Edgar need not be taken into consideration, but as regards both style and language, in Turandot we are in the land of faery enhanced by poetry, for, thanks to the distinguished patronage of Schiller, the subject was already immune from all taint of the matter-of-fact; while both La Boheme and Butterfly, apart from the end of the Japanese tragedy, which is painful for two reasons, undoubtedly possess a poetic quality, and are tersely dramatic and logically constructed, while their characters have genuinely human traits, and not merely those of lifeless masks and automata, and their destiny appeals
probability too far.

Le

Villi

to

our sympathies, making us their brethren through pity. There are but few operatic libretti of which as much can be
Is it just, then, to castigate Puccini as 'the negation of artist (Unkun$thr}\ aiming at nothing but sensational effec

said.

an

tiveness,

simply because he has not shrunk from strong, and at
it is

times brutal effects, sometimes worthy of the cinema,

true,

though
his

it is

obvious that he

is

never completely possessed by

work, and cannot put his whole soul into it, except when he has a real poet to second him, and when the naive emotions of a sincere heart give free course to his inspiration. Let us

Does woodland freshness and glorious folk spirit, verge upon the melodramas familiar to us in the Are the characters in Fidelio made travelling theatres at a fair ? of real flesh and blood, or are they not rather mere masks,
is

be honest: what

Don

Giovanni but a play of puppets?
its

not

Der

Freischutz, for all

representative of fidelity, longing for freedom, middle-class nature and crafty despotism; and is Pizarro so very different

good from

Scarpia?

Or

again, does not the bloody head of Jochanaan,

A ROMANCE OF JAPAN

179

which introduces such an equivocal note into the magnificent final scene of Salome^ that splendid work of genius, remind us of the chamber of horrors at a waxwork show? For the hundredth time I repeat that I know perfectly well what Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and Richard Strauss are, on the one hand, and what Puccini is, on the other; I know that comparisons are
never quite valid, especially

when we

are considering artists

on such a different intellectual plane. But we are not here concerned with ethical problems, nor even with music, but simply with artistic intentions ; and if a master such as Puccini is abused year in and year out for his choice of subjects, the least we ought to do is surely to ask ourselves whether there
any operatic libretti in other languages than Italian, either before or after Wagner, that possess greater artistic merit than those of the Italian composer, and in which are to be found
exist

characters
little

more touching and true

to life

than

all

these dainty

with their capacity for love poor, consumptive or even the girlish figure of the geisha Cho-Cho-San, Mimi, with her infinite patience and trustfulness, her humble love,

women

and her

There are quiet, heart-rending self-immolation. advanced musical thinkers of our day who have no idea how sterile musical radicalism really is in- the long run, and who
preach the gospel according to Schonberg while secretly enjoy

ing the intoxication of Puccini, whose 'unchaste' style they would be glad enough to imitate if only they had sufficient

powers of invention; but they really ought to consider for a while the question of where the more honest artistic ideals are to be found in the much-abused Puccini, or in the many
present-day musicians who are either merely playing tricks (Unfug ^eruben} with music or else suffering from the malady
\

of a progressive philosophy of life', I have already described more than once

*

^'

how

Puccini was as

in love with nearly all the feminine characters in his operas as with any living woman; but for none of them did

much
he

feel

his

such a whole-hearted love, which positively haunted dreams, as for this dainty Madame Butterfly, who has

i8o

GIACOMO PUCCINI

contracted a marriage with a smart, thoughtless naval lieutenant merely by declaration, according to the usage of her country, but is under the illusion that she is loved by the frivolous She waits his wife. American and is and

permanently
in

legally

for
all

him

for

two years

the advances of rich

hunger and want, steadfastly rejecting men, and when he returns with a wife,

and wishes to adopt the child born during his absence, she makes this supreme sacrifice to him, together with that of her poor little broken heart. None of his heroines has he clothed
in

his

such precious music: among all that Puccini wrote during whole life this music stands almost alone in the sheen of its

musical colour, like mother-of-pearl, in the opalescent, shimmer ing tone, the filigree-like melody, as soft as a breath and as fine as a cobweb, which is more perfectly sublimated, less corporeal

and more gossamer-like than ever in this opera. Not till Turandot did he once more achieve art with such economy, But such elusive colour, such unusual and exotic qualities.
before turning to a detailed consideration of the individual beauties of this exquisite music, woven, as it were, out of moon beams, and as unsubstantial as the little bamboo houses of

Japan,

I will first

describe the fate

meted out

to

it

by the com

poser's fellow-countrymen, for very different interpretations can

be put upon

this.

the day of this performance, after the general rehearsal, Puccini wrote the following cordial and confident letter to

On

Rosina Storchio, the eminent artist of his Butterfly:

who was

to sing the part

DEAR ROSINA,
Your great art is sure to subjugate the public. And I hope that, through you, I shall hasten on to victory. Till this evening, then, with a confident mind and with so much love, dearest,
It
is

superfluous for

me

to

wish you success.
it is

so true, so delicate, so impressive that

G.

P.

We

thoroughly convinced he was this time of the unfailing success of his work, and every one had been quite
see
carried

how

away by

it

at the rehearsals,

from the performers

to the

A ROMANCE OF JAPAN
triangle-player,

181

and the very stage-carpenters and workmen, who would tiptoe off the stage with tears in their eyes and come back day after day to listen. Even these simple people had been moved to the depths of their hearts by both the action and the music of the opera. The Master took this as symptomatic, and was so absolutely sure of success that, for the "Hrst time, he ventured to invite his brothers and sisters to the first performance of Butterfly at the Scala, Milan, though he had never asked them to that of any of his other operas. But he had cause to regret his action, for the evening of I yth February 1 904 had a black ending, and Madame Butterfly was hissed. At first the same atmosphere of tense expectation and friendly welcome prevailed, tinged with a certain love of sensation, as is usually felt when the public is about to hear a new work by a But suddenly the atmosphere changed, and popular composer.

w ent
r

to the opposite extreme, presumably because a phrase of the melody that accompanies the entrance of Butterfly in her

wedding attire reminded the public of one from La Scheme and roused their opposition. At the end of the first act the applause had to compete with audible hissing, and not even the
sight of the Maestro, who limped on to the stage leaning upon his stick, to acknowledge the applause of his faithful friends,

led

by

Mascagni,

imposed

sufficient

respect

to

check the

Puccini withdrew with a gloomy, hurt irrepressible uproar. expression on his face, and could not be induced to appear
before the curtain again. He sat in the wings watching the up roar increasing, first in perplexity, but afterwards with growing

anger, biting his nails savagely, while from time to time words

of

fierce

irony broke from his compressed lips in his most

expressive

Tuscan: 'Splendid!

Louder
it is

still,

you

beasts!
IJ

Shriek, yell, jeer at me! shall see! Ruin it all for
finest
I

But me!

I

It is I
1

who am right, who am right!

You
the

It is

opera people were of the same opinion ; to listen to the hoarse voices of the newsboys shouting 'Maestro Puccini's fiasco!' outside his windows, that looked on the street.
.

have ever written

Before very long most but next morning Puccini had
.
.'

1

82

GIACOMO PUCCINI
It

whose

remain for ever a puzzle. A sort of inde finable hostility seems to float in the very air; somebody shrugs his shoulders at a fine passage, and makes his neighbour feel uncertain; a spiteful remark is launched and flies like lightning round the theatre; the first hiss is heard and a tumult breaks
real causes

What had happened?

was one of those rowdy nights

After this all sense of out that can no longer be checked. measure is generally lost; the most insignificant accident causes
it

to

break out afresh.

On

this occasion

a draught distended
this

Madame

Storchio's robe for a
is

moment, and

provoked

shrill

It whistling and laughter. and malevolent persons was

envious possible that a cabal of at work on that evening, who were

bent upon bringing about the failure of this new opera by their much-fted colleague; but we are loath to believe this. No

doubt the plan of Madame Butterfly might in voked an unfavourable reception from a public

itself

have pro

that

had arrived

with the joyous intention of applauding their favourite operatic In composer, but certainly not such an insulting one as this.

than original version of the work the second act lasted more an hour and a half, and that is too much for any Italian audience.
this

Moreover, the fact that the tenor disappears after the first act, and does not reappear till the third, and even then only as an
episodic figure, is open to objection, and not to the taste of the But people could not have known ordinary La Scala audience.

when this low scene and it was afterwards seconded by the critics already started; in a spirit that makes us disinclined to do them the honour of The sole exception was Giovanni Pozza, who quoting them. recommended the public to be calm, and to wait and see. It really looked as though the dastardly and the unintelligent had banded themselves together against the Master, with the object
either of these things during the first act,

of making his work a failure. The reflection that conspiracies of this sort meet with nothing but contempt from
posterity,

and can never succeed

in the

long run, when genuine merit
this.

is

in question, does not alter the facts.

But Puccini was well aware of

Ten days

after this

A ROMANCE OF JAPAN
stormy evening he wrote to his friend
in

183

Don

Pietro Panichelli

Rome:
remarks of an envious press. and truth,, and soon she will rise I say it and stick to it with unwavering conviction. that in a few months' time, though I cannot at present
at the vile

DEAR PADRE (Caro Prete), You must have been dismayed
But never fear! from the dead. You will see, and
tell
1 you where.

Butterfly

is full

of

life

Torre del Lago, where his soul never failed to A bitter taste still lingered in his find healing for its wounds. as he said in a letter to another friend I mouth, but, hope that this bitterness will be transferred to other mouths as soon as
retired to
' :

He

somewhat more" poisonous form*. By agree ment with Ricordi he withdrew the opera after the very first evening, refunding the enormous sum of 20,000 lire which he had received from the management for his royalties. He next
possible, but in a

proceeded with perfect equanimity to revise it. He could not have failed to see that he had been wrong in stubbornly insisting upon dividing it into two acts ; and he now added an orchestral
intermezzo separating the second act, which was too long, into two parts, introduced into the latter of these a new canzone

and poignant grief, elimi nated the superfluous episode of the drunken uncle in the first act, added a few touches to certain passages so as to produce a more intimate glow of colour, and on 28th May of the same year had the work produced at the Teatro Grande, Brescia, with Campanini of the Scala as conductor and Salomea Krucenisca and Zenatello in the principal roles. It was an unmixed success. The point to which the public of the Scala had taken * that is, the fact that the music was genuine Puccini' exception aroused absolute rapture here, number after number had to
for the tenor, full of genuine feeling
1

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.

The

actual words of Puccini's letter, as printed in the

EpistolariOy were: *Caro Prete, tn sarai spaventato dalle vili parole dell' invida stampa. Niente panra! La Butterfly e viva, vera, e presto risorgera. Lo dico e lo sostengo con fede incrollabile vedrai e sara fra nn paio di mesi; non posso
dirti

dove, per ora*.

he was thinking of certain of notes. and the perfume. they where. From this point onwards the opera on the wings of as made its all round the way globe. so to speak. * La They for vied with one another in Puccini's own estimation. the most modern of my operas*. and with the universal . providing it with the colour best suited to it. of the last act of La Boheme. I never listen to my operas he remarked on one occasion : with pleasure. devices may. But Butterfly. of which hundreds of gramophone records were sent him from Tokio. for. though the wind. like a butter All these fly's wing. now dispensing with his stick a fact which seems almost symbolic had to respond to innumerable and enthusiastic calls. and Puccini. Scheme as and down to the present day it has vied with first favourite among his works. too. The most modern? It is hard to see in what respects Butterfly is to be considered more modern than its predecessors. with the exception. It is not its modernity that lends this music its power of suggestion and its attractiveness. the composer has surrounded each positive value. the use of Japanese folk-songs. but its specific aroma. of its setting. exotic sequences Perhaps. Debussy-like touches in his harmonies and the iridescent colour. of his incomparable instrumentation. though only infinitesimal doses of this music found a way into his work. the whole thing both enter I am conscious that in it I have written tains and interests me. whether at the North Pole or in the days tropics. one of his works with a characteristic musical atmosphere of its word is own. its combination of a foreign atmosphere human emotions that are the same every however much they may vary in temperature. yes. and he has done no more than this in his Japanese romance. have remained the same in every quarter of the globe since the first of creation. indeed. It is possible that Puccini was referring to the national element. perhaps.1 84 GIACOMO PUCCINI be repeated. be 'modern' in the sense in which this popularly used to-day. There is a marked contrast between the characteristically Japanese robe of rustling silk. whole-tone scales. and undoubtedly have their own But after all. too. with its heavy embroideries.

which begin gradually to glimmer through the vocal part as it enters in an indeterminate form. in the sweet is. in this work it in particular. the intimate music of the heart. be described as being in a constantly nascent state. and despondency. and finally blaze up It is as as in radiant sheaves of gold. the term applied by Leonardo to that which has a clear. yet not a sharp outline. lies in this contrast or. to the soft gradation of colours that pass insensibly into one another instead of being placed side by side in hard But there is a peculiar fascination not only in these melodies. hope. frightened little birds that have strayed from some realm of fantasy. though fleeting. in this blend of what is peculiar to some special place with the primitive emotions that are inde pendent of place or time* Or it would be more correct to say that this is one of the secrets. Puccini's art has by now attained full maturity and mastery in expressing with the utmost truth that which is still and emotions that are. has a shimmering had hardly ever done before. to tremble and flutter like shivering. surface there quivers an aching pain. and. and lends it something of that melting softness known to the Italians as sfumato. but also in the way in which they develop from vague beginnings. here as ever. The second is to be found. at first hinted at quite . 185 as it eternally the same throbs It seems with apprehension. and in striking exactly the right note in a conversation under whose half tacit. tiny fragmentary motives and thematic germs. which often seem. which however. though we could watch the whole thing growing up under our eyes. ness and tenderness of the love-breathing melody. have none the less great intensity and melodic pregnancy. What is more. an effect which he as it were. and this music may masses. as it were. rapture. free it from weakness and sickliness. muted and timidly repressed achieves by means of fioriture which. to me that the secret of this opera's triumph.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN the woman's heart beneath it. perhaps the secret of the triumph of all Puccini's music. lustre and thrills with soul as The atmosphere pervading suggests the smile of Monna Lisa. if we prefer to put it so.

that are felt by some people to be his supreme achievement in this opera. Yet in of all. But since everybody knows the opera so well. 1 at the end of which the two male voices join in proclaiming 'America for ever!' till though we could see the flutter of the Stars and we feel as Stripes. jaunty in souciance of the tenor aria. of iteration as a means of pro ducing suspense. to the vigorous of the opening fugato which energy precious full : reappears by way of thematic passage. what lingers longest in the memory and penetrates the heart more deeply than the brilliant vocal numbers known and polite unobtrusiveness. but after into an unrestrained outburst.1 86 GIACOMO PUCCINI and as timidly. the way in which unseen emotions grope their way into the music for instance. throbbing with ardour. allusion in connexion with so many situations. when she insists knowing the truth and hearing her doom. and is upon already pre paring to bear the blow. world over)*. in my opinion. I would also single out the frivolous. clearly illustrating Puccini's method of bringing out the varying significance of a motive. I do not pro pose to enter into details. Or TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. though with wards working up again. But I must admit that. bamboos. I cannot quite spite restrain myself from drawing attention to some of the more among the heavily-perfumed blooms of this garden of cherry-blossoms. 'Dovunque al mondo (The whole . the stifled tears and questions full of longing in such scenes as that between the Consul and Butterfly in the second act. Paint is bad for your health (An meinen Bildern dtirft ihr nicht schniiffeln die Farben sind ungesund)'. As Rembrandt said: "You need not poke your noses right into my pictures. into one of those palpitating vocal melodies. and orchids for instance. Pinkerton's first aria. and also his use of monotony as an artistic device. is precisely resigns herself to death in the third. or the half-smothered words in which she loved by everybody. and his skill in breaking it off at the right moment. or at times. what may be called the latent melody that develops from the germ of some pregnant phrase.

Possibly the aria in fine day)* it. we should note the way in which. too. G Un bel di (One major in the second act has been sung so much that we are almost tired of f flat therefore too hackneyed to produce its full impression any longer. as Butterfly approaches. the lovemotive is heard. way in This motive. is the way in on in the orchestra only. full of a childlike purity. and the one that forms an accompaniment to the wedding ceremony a melody which reminds me of the old German lullaby. the most gracious example of this being in the duet between Butterfly and Suzuki. with its riot of flowers. being interrupted in the vocal part by an eager. only here and there supplemented by another vocal part. just as a little changes Japanese paper house is transformed by sliding back a wall. Wenn wir Kinder schlafen gelin^ though here it produces such an exotic effect first reach their full develop in the ecstatically flowing love nocturne with which the act closes. to be transformed by some quite slight of rhythm. originating. is How carried develops a great monologue on the part of little Cho-Cho-San. in a 'thread of smoke (fil di fumo}\ then growing like a flower out of a germ consisting in the four-note orchestral figure in the second bar. and softly pervaded murmur of waters and by voices that echo clearly by the through the to This melody. and gaining is and a contour which is firmer for all its rhapsodic quality. it seems. which suggest a shower of sparks. as it were. like others of his melodies. which first remains in close relation night. but its line has been traced by the exquisite hand of a master. on reappearing. is one of the finest ever pro duced in Puccini's hours of most lavish inspiration. Besides this. which the melody now and to sway with the movement of a spring breeze as the . which seems to be flooded with sun shine. the tonic and next descends a fourth. afterwards mounting higher and higher diatonically.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN again. From this second act onwards the opera really into fascinating. the 187 which. excited passage in a conversational tone. vaguely adumbrated through the great sweeping augmented triads of the harps. and swell into a harmony of two hearts that wells ment up ardently.

and the light. the distant chorus of voices humming. and the Japanese quality finds expression as much in the picturesque stage setting as in the slight touch of exoticism in the music. twining garland. This It is them to sleep. It accompanies the scene in which the women and the child spend the whole night looking out through the holes in the thin wall for him who never comes. rising to a perfect fervour of exultation. of 'Tutta la primavera (Balmy breath of spring)'. And now comes a stroke of genius the neatly-rounded theme. the song of a much-tried heart. on through the light. . till it arrives at the graceful melody. but this musical torment is full of sweetness. feelings simplicity. that lacerate the or else lull degrees of the scale. with their monotonous rising and motive consisting in the successive notes of the triad. upon rice-paper. it is like woman's peerless illumination. which had already been sounded while Consul was reading out the letter from the faithless Pinker- now becomes the predominating motive in a miniature symphony of patient waiting. infinitely falling harmonically upon Rarely has Puccini drawn such fruitful results from his characteristic discovery that of a musical monotony and insistent iteration of motives that excite the nerves and stir the blood. like some design delicately : traced the ton. swinging six-eight G major. while the in flat movement A like a orchestra seems to shower down blossoms upon it. and throbbing at the approach of the new love and happiness that are to be some the recompense of her long waiting. its patient waiting and hopeless trust. dripping notes of the flutes and pizzicato strings.1 88 GIACOMO PUCCINI women adorn the room with sprays of blossom for the two in common expected lover. all go to make up a scene exactly like some little It is Japanese print. delivered at last from dejection and grief. and rounded off at intervals by a hesitating little ornament formed of a two-quaver figure twice repeated. from the tenderly dithyrambic passage time in flat major. The sustained notes on the harps and clarinets. which is constructed five its touching in childlike almost like that Chinese torture that con sists in a of water constantly drop falling upon the brow in the same place.

as of some Tristan disguised as a modern naval lieutenant. or to be revolted when Butterfly commits hara-kiri. This is an example of the excess which dulls the hearer's respon siveness and sympathy. the simultaneous . of it seems quite the painfulness of the Moreover. and full of inspiration though it continues to be. Suitable to the occasion. dramatic events undoubtedly prevents us from fully surrender Somehow none ing ourselves to the music.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN 189 passage has such a compelling charm that it is hard for anything of what follows to come up to it. and which served him rather as a preliminary means of acquainting himself with the musical character of that strange land than as material for supplying him with motives. use of those phonographic records of Japanese music for which he sent to Tokio. Successions of whole tones. noble. He has used very few of these original melodies. from the musical idiom of Japan in general. either tonal or harmonic. is amazing. sincere. has translated them entirely into his own Puccinian idiom. he has adopted few modes of expression. What is more. and a Japanese atmosphere in He has. relaxes his fevered interest. or the noble lines of the trio. and aug mented or diminished chords had already been a mark of his music before this. one need not be a sentimental weakling to feel indignant at the reappearance of Pinkerton who. is brutal enough to bring his legal* wife with him and demand the child through her agency. and there is but little found in Butterfly distinctive trace to be of the pentatonic scale. harrowing grief and exaltation and its passionate pro gressions of chords with a Wagnerian suggestion. or the mingled elegance and poignancy of the with its tenor's remorseful song. indeed. The economy of resources by which Puccini succeeds in pro ducing a foreign impression. made but little positive particular. though he is too cowardly to meet the woman whom he has abandoned. and cleverly and ingeniously though But Puccini makes use of reminiscences of former motives. and reacts upon the nerves of the stomach rather than the compassionate * heart. and even when he does use them. whether it be the intermezzo.

and we that even he himself may suspect would have been unable to give any other explanation of it than that his whole soul had gone out to this land and so him to discovered its real essence. is a Europeanized version of the Japanese conventions for treating the close of a melody. to which we have referred before. only to break off again before they reach their final development. The * music of the Japanese must have been in accord 'pedal-point with Puccini's own most personal predilections.. It is a striking fact that in almost all Puccini's operas. of a music from the land of Samurai and geishas. The close of the second act. in Toscay and Butterfly. according to which the last note is not always to be regarded as a tonic. in which fragmentary melodies start. or any other instrument from beyond the seas. immediately after the preliminaries that serve . the clear sonority of whose note approximates to that of the African ocarina. and even Lescauty his predominating mode of work is as early as Manon a sort of musical mosaic. Aeolian. How he did so is his own secret. or the primitive heptatonic scales which are typical features of Japanese music. the unsatisfying close on a chord of the sixth. though without any consistent system of symbolic reminiscence of the Wagnerian type. Phrygian. constructed out of the most simple elements. We much La Bohemty cannot but admit that his technique in this work has that has become stereotyped: that in all these operas. or of the minor pro gressions derived from the use of the Doric. The Japanese flute. and hypo-Phrygian modes.1 90 GIACOMO PUCCINI Intervals of heterophony. but often as a sixth or a seventh. owes its wonderful effect to the use of this device. a fifth or a second. is as little used by Puccini as is the thirteen-stringed koto (the place of which that land flute is taken by the harp). of bonzes and the frequenters of the tea-house. In spite of this. an often abrupt and rhapsodic alternation of constantly recurring motives. Even the last chord of the work. and is determined by the line of the melody. the European and the ordinary resources of orchestration sufficed for produce an overwhelming impression of something unEuropean.

Nor can we very well ignore the fact that the ancestor of them Moor of Venice. but is ' forced. for the rest. but serves to It is captivate the listener at once. or Butter aria in flat. and. fly's G We a certain fascination in peeping into the secrets of this unerring master of dramatic effect. but there is In Butterfly^ subject and music have combined to produce a rare power of suggestion. little Madame Butterfly may well prove to have the greatest vitality. moreover. ideas The proof on which the opera of the vitality of the few fundamental is based is that they are constantly recurring elsewhere. all some these figures in the ethnographical museum of of which are already a little damaged. we have a well* tried subject associated with music that is novel in both form and invention. equally striking to note that the climax is invariably marked by a vocal number for one of the feminine characters. moving and true to life. for she is simple. like him. In it. and stand in need of some kind of preservative. The question is whether Puccini really made use of these consciously. the Among opera. . which does not seem absolutely indispensable to the dramatic action. the Indian girl who has to try and tempt an English naval lieutenant to play the traitor. like all her predecessors. but the future of this category of music would seem to lie in its ceasing to exist as a separate category.A ROMANCE OF JAPAN as a prelude. hardly think so. not in the least operatic. to die as the result of her love for him. 1 TRANSIATOR'S NOTE. In Meyerbeer's UAfricaine. all of which produce a great effect by artistic devices that are quite slight. This may seem strange praise for an opera. all is Othello. Julius Korngold has pointed this out somewhere in his clever criticism of Puccini's works: 'Butterfly has a grandmother named Selika 1 and a cousin named Lakm6\ A few years afterwards he might also have claimed a grand child for her in Reznicek's Satuala. there 191 comes a tenor aria. and consequently. Tosca's prayer. starting without any prelude: we may instance Musette's waltz song.

for every time a carriage drove up some minutes elapsed before The reason why the process took so the next could approach. Inside the opera-house only half the lights were turned on at first. and even now speculators were hanging about those who were arriving on foot. yet even so the effect was more brilliant than usual. New York. yet in spite of all. beneath the canopy chauffeurs lost patience.CHAPTER XI UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN ('THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST') Das Wiikliclie ohne sittlichen Bezug nennen wir gemein. in a prudent whisper. crowd was dense. though for the most part without success. could the next person come of these precautions was to prevent specula object up. and had to be pushed back by the police over and over again. GoETHE. it reached positively fantastic office. 192 . twenty. or thirty times the box-office price. there was The a press of carriages. tion in the tickets. and then. offering them seats at ten. the 1 Concrete reality apart from all ethical bearings we regard as vulgar. not to speak of the pearls and diamonds displayed for the occasion. and those behind shouted and swore. extending as far as the eye could see. and then. The handwriting was then compared with the that he had given on buying the tickets at the boxsignature till then. 1 OUTSIDE the Metropolitan Opera-house. sizing them up at a glance. For hours on end motor after motor drew up The that protects the main entrance. was that not one of those alighting from a carriage was long admitted till he had proved by signing his name that he was genuinely the holder and purchaser of the tickets that had to be produced. for the men's white shirt-fronts and waistcoats and the necks and shoulders of the countless lovely dollar princesses diffused a shimmer of light. and not The proportions on this occasion.

.

-V ^ ... rw .. f i* > > 7 I T AT- - O 9 . .' ^^=l^^^\i4^ . j. .Ji< ' y* . ' \ PART OF A PAGE FROM THE ROUGH DRAFT OF Gianni SchiccU (reduced facsimile) . : .M/ A' r ^^. .< ^.5 ojl^l. .r.. .'*~/^Z'-o -r*rf... A ^-f- // /^ ^V ! I.

UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN

193

splendour of which was like the fantastic dreams of the Thousand and One Nights come true. If the precious stones that were theatre with flashes of white, red, sea-blue, and filling the great
mystic green could have been sold, the proceeds would have been sufficient to heal the sufferings of central Europe at the
present day
if,

indeed,

it is

means.
of

The upper two thousand

possible to heal these by material out of the upper ten thousand

New York were all present, and proud to be there, for they had almost had to engage in personal combat in order to succeed in attending this long-expected performance, which promised It was as though the to be the greatest event of the year. whole credit of Broadway depended upon their being there, and those who had succeeded in getting there might well give them selves airs, for the very fact of their presence meant an increase in their prestige, and presupposed a bank account running to
at least ten figures in dollars. Yet this sensational event) which

New

York, as well as half the artistic world,

had mobilized the whole of was neither a

of an presidential election, nor a trust war, nor the departure
it was merely the first performance of an opera. But was one that had been anticipated with greater suspense than any other since the Grail had been filched from Bayreuth and Parsifal produced in America in contravention of all morality and justice. The opera was Puccini's La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West), which was being performed for

airship :
it

the

first

as conductor

time at the Metropolitan Opera-house, with Toscanini and Caruso and Destinn in the principal roles,
is

and, what

He
Ten

in the presence of the Master himself. had, indeed, visited the American continent before then.

more,

years previously, Manon and Edgar had been performed at Buenos Aires, and in the year 1906 he had visited New York too, in order to be present at the final rehearsals of Manon.

But by the time he arrived, these were already over, and he was rushed straight from the ship to the opera-house, so that he
might at least be
in time for the first performance.

He managed

to arrive just in time for

Caruso and

Scotti, the baritone, to

i

94

GIACOMO PUCCINI
him and
lead

receive

where he acknow of the public at the end of the first ledged the frantic applause He had therefore had a foretaste of American ways, of act. and advertisers eager to use interviews, photographers,

him before the

curtain,

press

him for the purpose of puffing their wares, or to attach his name to their soaps, hats, or liver-pills. But in spite of this, was new to him, for any claims that everything on this occasion had been made on him before, and any functions arranged in his honour, had been child's play in comparison with what now awaited the Master who had in the meantime become worldHis voyage in the royal suite of a luxury liner, the band of which had reduced him to an amiable frenzy by their of fragments from his well-meaning but incessant performance of the passengers, each of whom had operas, and the homage tried to snatch a word or an autograph from him, had already renown fully home to him for the brought his international first time; but all this had passed by like a dream, though not America had produced an always like a dream of delight. He had liked the fresh vigour him. imposing impression upon of the people and the grandiose proportions of the cities and their life, and had been most eager to return there, but he would Yet here he was, being treated have liked to do so incognito.
famous.
like a sovereign.

When

room on

the tenth story,

he looked out of the window of his he was seized with giddiness; and it

of grew worse when he caught sight of the enormous piles all of which, however, he declined, invitations that arrived daily, with the sole exception of a dinner at the Vanderbilt mansion.

His son Tonio, who,
put upon

him by

in spite of the comically despairing pressure Puccini, refused to forge his father's signature,

and had quite enough to do in willingly acted as his secretary, all inquiries, in addition to comforting his father, answering

who was

turmoil of

suffering from homesickness and the nerve-racking York; for an artist of Puccini's type could

New

life. hardly be expected to keep up with the pace of American There was one millionaire and Puccini enthusiast who offered

five

hundred

dollars for a line

from the Master's hand,

calling

UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN
daily,

195

only to receive a daily refusal, and finally attained his object for the sole reason that Puccini fell in love with a motorboat and became the owner of it for the precise sum offered by
this

man

in return for the

written out

by

Puccini's

a hundred such persons in that land of unlimited possibilities, for the very reason that it offered him too many limitations and impossibilities.

own hand. He was who made life a burden

opening bars of Musetta's waltz, only typical of to the Maestro

But for
its

all this,

excess in

all

the very pace and rush of American life, and things, provided the right atmosphere for the
of the Golden West^ and no desired for it. Its very success

production and success of The Girl
better start could have been

was marked by a typically American exaggeration, and was renewed a few days later at Chicago, immediately afterwards in Boston, and a little while later in the composer's own native land, at the Teatro Costanzi, Rome, where La Fanciulla was
produced at the opening of the Exhibition of 1911, with the much-admired scenery from Boston, consisting of trees modelled in plaster and foliage cut out of leather, and likewise under the
secondary symptom masterly conductorship of Toscanini. of this extravagance was the sum paid the author in royalties on
the
first

A

New York
lire.

120,000

From

performance, which exceeded the figure of that time onward Puccini never had

In future every one of his new compositions, even the anaemic La Rondine^ with its rather feeble inspiration,

another failure.

was

immediately

received

with

unstinted

and

unanimous
last

applause.

The

first

performance of Butterfly was his

un

But it is curious that it was precisely pleasant experience. those operas of Puccini's that were at first received with hesita tion, or even with hostility, that have gained a triumph on every
their position till operatic stage in the world, and maintained those that were received with wild the present day; whereas

acclamations, such as Le Vitti^ La Fanciulla^ La Rondine, and the Trittico^ have either ceased to be performed at all, or are

Once put on in a few places only, and even there very seldom. it has been demonstrated that the fate of a piece is decided again

x

96

GIACOMO PUCCINI

not by the success of the first performance, but only by the If this does not seem to intrinsic vitality of the piece itself. the third of the 'Triptych' of onehold good for Gianni Schicchi, act and, what is more, a gem of operatic gaiety, this is
operas,

due

to the fact that, in spite of their fine qualities, the other and Suor Angelica^ have hitherto failed to pieces, // Tabarro
sufficient

two win

favour with the public to be kept afloat by the sparkling feel others of their favourite gaiety of Schicchi^ for people Puccini's works to be more spontaneous; while, on the other as an isolated piece, has suffered the hand, this comic
fate

of

all

opera, one-act operas, which are difficult to

fit

into the

an opera-house, in which programme, and especially into that of few of these short pieces have shown any lasting vitality. In Vienna, where Puccini's masterly little comedy is often chosen
to follow Peter

which

is

Cornelius's enchanting Barker von Bagdad^ itself maintained in the repertory only with the utmost

difficulty,

the performance
it

is

ficant that

never draws a

full

always a treat, though it is signi But a whole chapter house.

could be devoted to the question why, in spite of the undeniable for laughter and high spirits, the life of need of

humanity

refresh opera comique as a class, not to speak of such delightfully

ing isolated examples of

it

as

Palstaf^

Der

Widerspenstigen

Zahmung (The Taming of the Shrew), Feuersnot^ Der Earlier 'Don Bagdad^ or such charming one-act operas as Leo Blech's can be Versiegeh and Erich Korngold's Der Ring des Polykrates and why their wit and prolonged only by great circumspection,
gaiety so often have to succumb to the public's tragic lack of discrimination ; or again, why opera boujfe^ or the atmosphere of
light and witty comedy, even when inspired by genius, to have less power of attraction than mediocrity, even
7

seem

when
this

this is 'serious

.

But no answer has yet been found to

question, which applies to Gianni Schicchi as well. For the present, at any rate. The Girl of the Golden

West

has been equally unsuccessful in achieving a triumphant career. This may be partly due to the fact that the principal female role demands not only a singer of considerable ability, but also

UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN

197

an actress of the highest order, with more varied qualities than are required for the impersonation of Tosca or She Butterfly. should possess not only charm, tenderness, and ardour, but both innocence and energy, elemental passion and a fresh, Wherever such an actress exists, as for unspoilt naturalness.
instance in Vienna and
acts
all,

New

York, where
in the part

and sings magnificently

Madame Jeritza both of Minnie, and above

wherever the heroine finds adequate supporters in the roles of the noble bandit Ramerrez and the dissolute sheriff Ranee, an effect will be attained that will not be impaired even by the romantic setting of bandits and gold-miners, the unwholesome fascination of the threatened Indian tortures, and the circus

demanded by the book, which is, however, by no means devoid of merit apart from these points. But the public esti mate of the opera has been modified since its initial success.
effects

People now feel a little ashamed of their vulgar instincts, whic were so easily subjugated by the theatrical crudities and false
pathos of the stage action, and are possibly more unjust to the be. They inveigh against the libretto for its false sentiment and sheer melodrama. consider -

work than they should

They

music shows unmistakable signs of a certain flagging;that, thanks to the enhanced refinement of the workmanship," nothing is left but a weak dilution of the earlier type of Puccini's once so popular melody; and that the whole is rather a
that the
rechauffS,

consisting of music that has been, as vanized into life, and is, moreover,

were, artificially gal worthy of the cinema. But
conscience, and

it

here I will
I

call

a halt.
all

I

search

am

my

know

that

free

from
I

prejudice in

very reason

hold that

we

favour of Puccini, and for that ought not to keep on asking ourselves

what seems

to be wanting in this opera by comparison with former ones, but should rather consider whether on this occasion he did not intend to do something different from what he had

done before, and to what extent his intentions. And the answer
in fact,

he has succeeded in realizing must certainly be that he did, mean to do something different, and that in places,

though not everywhere, he has succeeded.

198

GIACOMO PUCCINI

thing must unquestionably be conceded to Puccini: that he had clearer ideas than most people about himself and the quality of his talent, and was well aware of its limitations.

One

But he would not have been an artist had he not longed at times to broaden its scope, or at least to cultivate some department of it that was as It is quite easy to understand yet unexploited. that there were hours in which the little things' that he loved seemed too small and circumscribed, so that he felt a strong
*

desire to venture outside this over-cultivated pleasure-garden, and for once in a while to exchange the perfume of luxury for

the smell of fresh earth

and the sweat of toiling men,

the haunts of civilization for the wilds, and the bridled instincts, lusting for gold and adventure,

abandon men of un
to

who

people

significant to note iiow often the expression-mark ruvido (harsh) occurs in the score of The Girl of the Golden West*, he meant the music to be rough and even brutal in tone, instead of amoroso^ teneramente^ or con
life.

them, and grapple

direct with

It is

It is significant, too, that while he was American opera, his mind was running upon working one on the subject of Marie Antoinette, the idea of which he had never quite dropped, and for which Illica, who shortly afterwards followed his friend Giacosa to the grave, had even sketched the plan of a first act; but in the long run the condi tions of his life left him no to carry out his project. It liberty throws a flood of light on his character that he should have

dolcezza, as before.
at his

still

been pleased with Belasco's play about gold-miners, which had the advantage, shared all Puccini's by libretti, of being compre hensible even to a deaf man. Nature in all her grandeur yields up her music here, and he could not have failed to see great
possibilities in this

restraints

motley crowd of men, all living outside the of morality, free, horny-handed, and only too prompt
knife or the revolver.
it

But though every vice is accompanied by much good nature, tender-heartedness, and even gentleness, though the deeds of blood that have committed do not they weigh overheavily upon their consciences, and they are always ready to
to be

to take

up the

found among them,

is

UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN

199

appeal to lynch law in self-protection. Equally promising is the principal female character, Minnie, the brave, high-spirited who teaches Scripture to the whole gang, and is on girl,

friendly

Every one of them loves her, and therefore protects her from the lusts of the others, and we feel it to be perfectly suitable, and even to have a sort of wild, primitive psychological logic, that her heart should be drawn towards the bandit Ramerrez,

terms with every single one of these wild young men, she knows how to control and keep at a due distance.

whom

whom she has come in contact in the character of the harmless Johnson ; that she should receive him in her hut, only to drive him away again indignantly on obtaining proof of his his identity with the great bandit, who has been betrayed
with

by

being pursued by the sheriff; that her love should blaze up uncontrollably when the hunted man has been wounded by the bullet of one of the gold-miners before her threshold,
is

mistress

and

where he threatens to bleed to death; and that she should try and finally, by putting forth all her spirited elo But quence, save him from the gallows and go off with him. if had told Puccini that it is not to be endured that the anybody sheriff should openly attempt to do violence to Minnie on the stage, that the presence of Ramerrez should be betrayed by the drip of his blood, that Minnie's honour and the bandit's head should be the stakes in a game which the brave girl can win only by flagrant cheating, and that the last act should degenerate into a revolting man-hunt, in which the stake is set up and the noose is already round the neck of the unfortunate wretch, who has fallen into the hands of a lynching party the Master would probably have opened his eyes wide in astonish ment and said that, however this may be, these are none the less the scenes that produce the surest effect, and for the sake of which the public puts up with the episodic character of the rest; and he would have added with some pride that the whole of this third act, in which some eight or twelve horses and a
to hide him,

howling, blood-thirsty boards, was his very

mob
own

of desperadoes literally tread the invention, thanks to the drastic

in the third act of La Fanciulla^ is intended to bring about his shameful death. But the Maestro would these arguments. while Our precisely the same objection. a stage is anything but a noble fluid. we should have been silenced and disarmed by the naive And insouciance of this theatrically-minded composer. It is certainly not have been convinced by hardly necessary to point out that none but these scenes that contain a violent explosion of feeling admit of vocal and orchestral numbers of while order. of them is the melting aria. daubed with red paint. after a death that takes place all. and felt quite diffident as we expressed the decided opinion that blood on the on the contrary. in.200 alterations that GIACOMO PUCCINI he insisted upon making in Belasco's last act. But all this disappears the moment the actor is carried is why all can possibly imagine an enormous salary has really any longer that the tenor drawing suffered serious pain. for. full of sorrowful . duced is rather that of a crude stage effect. and even the rope which. too. as it were. This is equally true even of the blinding scene in King Lear^ and of all such fails to The impression pro horrors that take place before our eyes. but. behind What happens imagination is prepared for anything. Nobody produce a particularly terrifying effect. or at best in an English melodrama. the scenes kindles our most impassioned sympathies. fitting them into a mosaic of tiny pieces. wretched one that immediately destroys all illusion. and that on the stage is open to the torture-scene in Tosca causes us the most shuddering horror. offers a good opportunity for Puccini's defined a broadly comprehensive and fairly wellthe brightly diversified and episodic method of piecing together motives and. character of the rest. we should point out that these more homogeneous cantilena passages bear viduality less Puccinian the stamp of Puccini's melodic indi The most distinctively distinctly than usual. and for his use of little melodies that only gradually develop their complete form. like those familiar to us in films or pantomimes. But on the other hand. it is nothing but red paint. though the details are often picturesque and full of life.

are melancholy at heart. the rough. But the as songs sung by these people. in order to enable him to enter atmosphere of what was. and he has not polished them to such an extent that none of their native piece is full soil can still manage to adhere to them. resemble them in character. many Indian melodies for which he sent on into the this occasion. but Cavaradossi's farewell grips the emotions with greater power. music that is still in process of emerging in fact. being confused. who. and we have already seen in what a masterly does not way Puccini manages come from the heart. with merely chromatic intervals. The whole it is of characteristic local colour. It is as though the gloom of the wild Californian mountain land scape did not offer a fruitful soil in which music could flourish. yet in spite of the dexterous suggestion of cruelty. he at least found a nice pocket of small nuggets. once more in Puccini's favourite key of G flat. quite a new world: the minstrel's song of longing for his home. true backwoodsmen's melodies. who. and the mourning that can often be felt even in the harsh or sentimental motives on which are based the songs of these men. sung by the tenor beneath the gallows. the tender-hearted master does not really quite succeed in producing an impression of something evil. lacking in sonority.UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN earnestness and 201 manly composure. The vocal parts that accompany the sheriff's game have the sombre colour of Scarpia's music. jotted down into form fragmentarily. are not wicked. to him. and at times Puccini used only one of the uncouth or astonishingly sentimental. jagged. and men certainly cannot sing with such finish or such supple voices in the primeval forest as in civilized regions. The served to determine the colour of the music. for. Yet though Puccini failed to dis cover a whole mine of song. At times though the composer were trying to say: 'Do not settle down calmly in a land where people sing like this'. so quietly plaintive and moving rest its in the very hopelessness of its monotony. though outwardly rough and strong. to express the noisy joviality that These are little motives. though turbulent. if associated . too. untamed quality of the natural surroundings imparts itself to the melodies too.

But the music. is merely its primitive rudiment a mere scalp of a This act does not yield melody. But in Act I of La Pandulla. in these expansive scenes of emotional outpouring. is undoubtedly the most varied in colour and rich in The inspiration of the three. is the little waltz. which lends it a peculiarly deli cate instrumental colour. its childlike tune hummed by the crowd. might claim Debussy as its godfather. as it were. It may be noted that. any very rich results: the headlong speed of the action. from the musical point of view. and in the two love-scenes into a An develops soaring melody. In Turandot this indeterminate and genuineness of colour by its harmonization with secondary the monotonous chords. motive associated with Minnie is fifteen act. especially in the love-scene. with unusually strong atmosphere hovers over the close of this first which. softly accompanied by sound. offers little lullaby opportunity for lingering over lyrical passages. too. too. reminding us of a film. which comes into being. playing round the purely orchestral tone of the instruments. and using the timbre of the human voice in a purely instrumental fashion. melody on three notes. acquires a symbolic significance. as though impro vised on the until it spot. . is more tempestuous in character. the harmonization of the final chord peculiar of C major. of the Bible-reading scene is very charming in its idyllic serious ness. Since his use of this device in Butterfly Puccini had had a predilection for such passages hummed in chorus. these arioso phrases might equally well express the annoyance of a respectable citizen or the advances of an The pastoral and Old Testament atmosphere energetic pastor. In the second act the suggestion of the snowy atmosphere of the Sierra Nevada is more penetrating than that of the Barriere d'enfer in La Scheme. with the unresolved double suspension on the seventh and second. when the door flies open and the howl of the winter storms intrudes upon the The Indian is lent interest springtide of the heart. tenor voices 'with closed lips'. with its hurdygurdy effect. again produces a magical and shimmering effect. before our eyes to the rhythm of hand-clapping.202 GIACOMO PUCCINI with other words. very charming.

The whole passage is simply masterly. nerve-racking in its monotony. but rather 'Yissi delle carte'. about his shameful end that is quite as it should be. and leads less interesting. very good. at certain moments. and the old by which the music suddenly stops at the moment when the acrobat is making his most dangerous circus trick dive. Minnie bursts into hysterical laughter as she wins the game. by a vocal number full of intense emotion sung by the anguished and over wrought heroine. so far as be We sit unmoved. poker scene the composer displays his supreme power of In the shadowy murmur. as a matter of course. Then storm at last the orchestra bursts forth. disjointed words of the gamblers are accompanied only by the hardly say 'Vissi d'arte'. appears here as a powerfully theatrical device that makes us gasp for breath. and we should have been left absolutely indifferent had it not been that. as has often been alleged. nothing. and the hasty. shrug our shoulders. is the music that accompanies the hideous man-hunt mere noise. if the characters really enlisted our sympathies. an emotional arioso . thus raising the tension to an almost unbearable pitch of suspense. expressing the raging within her soul. the music speaks to the soul. There is concerned. Yet he is : saved after all and.UNCLE GIACOMO'S CABIN the climax is 203 not marked. as in the earlier operas. the music ceases. she has no 'prayer' to sing for the purpose of softening the heart of this Scarpia of the Wild West though it is true that she could creating a fitting musical background for grim events: the motives of love and jealousy fade away. Minnie's spiritual agony knows no law pre scribing. It would be simply crashing if it were really dramatic that is. The bandit has to be executed: very good. tango-like movement . He is going to be used as a target: The girl who loves him is to hear nothing again. formed by till the sinister passage in semiquavers on the lower strings. moreover. and go home. it is well constructed. Nor. nothing could altogether too much ado about I am up characteristically to a sort of wild. The same cause is responsible for the lack of real interest and the merely superficial excitement with which we watch the exciting events of the third act.

This is music that points the way out into the But a farewell song full of warm humanity. the satisfaction even in America. I have frequently ex the opinion that his characteristic and individual method pressed . suitable. produces and agitated appeal to the love of the man who has been saved. and is the prerogative of the lonely. and lends the right appeasing note to the whole. trust based on the ing to the power of reminiscence. and wished to choose some other vehicle for doing so than the cultivated and nervously oversubtilized type of vocal line that he had used in the earlier In this opera he has certainly displayed to a supreme degree his art of musical interjection. escaped from the great world to Nature. and from the concentrated power and abruptness necessary for depicting these rough men living outside all established order. and even Ramerrez' with having to dance. as though to express the character of a human type that has and gone back returned to primitive conditions. The closing ensemble. happy ending of the opera does not give Possibly people feel that music charged with really heartfelt emotion leads us towards that which is not of this world. Every one of these miniature dialogues has the sion that very colour of spoken language. is throughout a comforting impres motive associated with Minnie. but remained himself. of highly intimate expres operas. open sion after the girl's fervent country. however. yet compressed into a few and of associating the most everyday language with bars. This work almost gives us the impression that Puccini was he desired purposely checking the ample flow of his melodies. curiously enough. though vocal line. is absolutely true to life. which. Even in this Fenimore Cooper atmosphere he managed not to develop a sensationalism like that of the novelist Carl May.204 GIACOMO PUCCINI well suited to the tango feroce which Ramerrez is threatened Yet it falls flat. melodically simple phrases charged to the utmost with emotion. comes too late. feelingnature has often saved him from extremes of harshness. in itself broad and rising in a fine of song farewell. Giacomo Puccini. though his sensitive. and so does the imploring melody of the last prayer.

gives a clue to his essential nature. And perhaps it is his most personal one. then the general verdict on The Girl of the Golden West will have to be revised a little. If which finds its most concentrated expression in this device. . which. this be so. It is certainly not Puccini's strongest work.UNCLE GIOCOMO'S CABIN 205 of forming the typical melodic fragments. but equally certainly it is not his weakest one. raise ordinary things to the plane of musical expression. by means that are anything but ordinary.

for he knew that from time to time he would still be drawn back to his beloved lake. and have called It is an irregularly planned. the light. bent by the sea-wind. have already spoken of the red-brown house beneath the sombre green pine-trees. indeed. his I happy home life. He now built himself a villa at Viareggio. at his The local authorities had failed to prevent the building of a factory it had been beyond their power next his house perhaps. place. veranda running round the outside of building. gently sloping and is supported an almost Malay effect. which is remarkably like him. rises above the roofs of the rest of the building. the noise of machinery and the pestilential smells and to stop it that came from it exasperated him beyond endurance and made He had to reconcile himself to the idea of which had been a perfect paradise to him and leaving this spot. in some parts following the line of the fagade as it projects roof of one wing and recedes in others. the Master's residence beloved Torre del Lago had now been spoilt for him. But he did not feel that he was leaving it for ever. the other has been adorned by the citizens of Viareggio with a marble memorial tablet bearing a grateful and sorrowing relief 206 . upon gaily coloured of himself put up. with a wooden it.CHAPTER XII DRIVEN FROM PARADISE (*LA RONDINE* AND THE *TRITTICo') As we have mentioned above. But it was with a heavy heart that he gave up his permanent residence in which had been the scene of his best work and of this his life a burden. producing The whole house gives the impression of having been wafted to the spot from India or Farther India by some kindly spirit On one of the outer walls Puccini had a portrait of the air. pillars. straggling it a sort of bungalow. which he loved above all others.

turbulent. Puccini often worked memory of the departed Master. looking out into the wind and dreamed him by swept garden over the top of his eye-glasses when he had to think over an idea longer than usual. connected him with Tito Ricordi. were far from being as intimate as those which had existed between him and it took him a long In spite of various differences of opinion. the dearest of them all had been torn from him Giulio the first Ricordi. and first time. patron and The bonds that had* been a second father to him. felt no trouble too much. man. and with a pencil in his mouth. and when he was forced to leave it he felt that now indeed. 'Without work my life 'What has no meaning.' he would sigh over and over again. shortly after performance of The Girl of the Golden West in New York. with whom the composer had. at the splendid Steinway grand piano presented the firm. real a useless thing art is. their relations remained excellent on the surface. easy-going poet. Yet it seems as though he never felt himself anything but a sojourner there. who now became the head of the publishing firm. . age of fifty. his who untiring collaborator. his youth Perhaps this feeling certain of his friends. wearing his hat on his head in his usual fashion. however. which was directly connected with his bedroom by an inside flight of stairs. long been out of touch. but he had long since passed the 'Yes. The who had first to die was Giacosa. for the was at an end. in spite of all assurances of mutual regard. was increased by the fact that he had lost who had seemed so closely bound up with his period of formation that he felt them to be part of it. but lacked the patrician old time to recover. so long as it was taken for Puccini. imaginative Illica. In 1919 Giacosa was followed by the choleric. from whose death warmth. But much earlier than this. best adviser. the kindly. in his study on the ground-floor. He was not at home anywhere but by his Lake of Massaciuccoli. Giulio's son and heir. yet people like us cannot exist without it/ He felt full of creative power. and wanted to say all that he had left to say. friend. But he had to look to the future.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE inscription in 20^ Here.

with which the authors. D'Annunzio sent him a proposal for an opera on the Children's Crusade. but his enthusiasm did not action. He would have liked to compose music for Pelleas and Melisande> but that play of sombre fantasy had already been assigned to Debussy. whose first piece of work for him was to draw up the scenario and versify the libretto for Anima on Genio alegre). too. he next had to new librettists. At any rate. That. He (The Cheerful Mind). he had already resumed the search for suitable subjects for a libretto. Once again he applied to Maeterlinck. Even while still engaged in orchestrating his opera of the Wild West. and it is a pity that he gave up the idea. while near at hand the hotel orchestra was playing tunes from La Boheme. 'In general/ he said on one But if I am to be any calmer. he wrote from Paris. Franz Schmidt. last long enough to be put into had thoughts of Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris. he went on looking for the right it but man. The libretto had already been planned and versified. is a serious malady/ But it was a malady of which he never showed any desire to be cured.208 GIACOMO PUCCINI we are popular but old'. look for After the death of his two trusty collaborators. *I am quite calm. he would drop it without mercy. occasion. Zanga- appears that he did not want them as regular collaborators. Puccini was not ill-satisfied with the book written for it by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo rini. and he was enthusiastic over the idea. The subject would certainly have offered him great scope. and he was quite right to do so. if only for the reason that we should then most likely have been spared the luxuriantly melodious. but flimsy opera on it composed by the For a long time his mind ran upon Viennese. the brothers Alvarez Quintero. and found him in Giuseppe Adami. for unless he could keep up a keen interest in a subject. and whom we allegra (based . a play entitled Genio akgre when he suddenly dropped it again. had created quite a sensation. The title-page of The Girl of the Golden West had already ceased to bear the familiar names of Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. I ought not to have become an artist.

74WU'.r. '. .. LI fitV^I.-. :-v. J A PASSAGE FROM THE FIRST VEKSIOX OF THE LIBRETTO OF ToSCX (reduced facsimile) THEME FROM / Crisantemi .pt 5WICTU r-^*- > . ie*.- WtfJS*MM< "BaiaaadFJ j*. I-^MU...* MI- *i %a :WMO * jautto ^UMi|r ft i...'. .:-* nwn i^'ii .- ~ "" ~ '" ~ : ~~~~- --*--' X ' PART OF A PAGE FROM THE ROUGH DRAFT OF Turandot (reduced facsimile) . i^m. fjl )'..'K. . :. i .i *..

.

It is a varied whole.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE 209 have to thank not only for the admirable libretti of // Tabarro and Turandot) and the less happy one of La Rondine. Matilda Serao. The whole libretto was completed within a week. and the composer at once set to work. in which a tragic. if a libretto. and his old collaborator David Belasco had been as little able to help him as any of the other poets from whom he had tried to obtain to fill the bill . He therefore concentrated his fresh creative faculty3 which for too long past had remained in a state of dull stagnation. owing to the temporary lack of the two pieces required to supplement it. though there was still a risk that the two remaining one-act pieces required might not be found but he had to put an end to he was not to fall into a state of incurable melancholy. and he requested Adami to proceed with the composition of a libretto without entering into any con tract for the present. upon // Tabarro^ and trusted to God for the rest. With the assistance of Adami he hoped effect a at last to carry into long-cherished plan of his: that of a cycle of one-act operas. who called him his *caro Adamino'. than by the subject itself. Possibly Puccini was more attracted by the atmosphere of Paris by night and the unspoilt emotions of the proletarian characters in it Paris. He had soon completed this little operatic tragedy. consisting of an Inferno^ a Purgatorlo^ and a Paradiso y was once more considered. and would probably have subsided into despair again. only to be rejected. He now became an intimate friend of the Master. had he not been tem porarily distracted from his idea of a triptych by the unfortunate . Maxim Gorki. a lyric and a burlesque piece should be combined to form But subjects were still not easy to find. his recent period of inaction. a fragment of at it should have survived rate But now he any chanced upon an idea for a one-act opera. but also for the EpstolariOy the collection of Puccini's letters published by him. The Dante theme. forming a whole evening's entertainment. An old French lady had talked to the Master about a piece which had met with some success in entitled La Houppelandey by Didier Gold. curious that. after in Gianni SchicchL all.

the two directors of which. and. the then director the credit for which lighted with Puccini was on a visit to the Austrian capital place in Vienna. misunderstanding between him. in which Madame Jeritza was fine mounting and scenery. But on tions failed to induce him to enter into any contract. and prolonged conversa laughingly but quite firmly declined.000 Kronen to graceful. and Tito Ricordi may also have A and he informed the directors of the Viennese theatre that he was prepared to enter into negotiations. would be sent him from Vienna. to attempting something quite light the sum of 200. Among others he attended a performance of an operetta at the Carltheater. he of the Court Opera-house (Hofoper). Eibenschutz and Berte. taking part. for instance. He had no matter over. These gentlemen of the Carltheater considered that they were doing all that . that with La Rondine (The Swallow). or at any Had rate the plan of it. what is more. By the following day they had arrived in and the contract was signed. but to the smartest and most dexterous commercial librettists in the world of Viennese operetta. The preliminaries to this unsatisfactory had taken the rehearsals. returning home. in principle. he began to think the and objection. and he would promptly have declined with thanks. would have Puccini only known that type of man better. in whose akin plays we are often conscious of an atmosphere somewhat to that of Puccini's music. not to say catastrophe. he realized that the libretto would not be entrusted to any writer of the efninence of Arthur Schnitzler. and with the unusually was due to Hans Gregor. the libretto for which. little be paid on account was by no means to be despised. an operetta for the Carltheater. took advantage of his evenings to see what was going on at the other theatres. for the production of The Girl of the Golden West^ and was de In addition to this. tried to tempt the Master to write an operetta for their theatre by the promise of an unusually high At first Puccini extra fee in addition to the usual royalties.2io GIACOMO PUCCINI took place in connexion affair incident. The Master was to write Milan. had some influence upon his decision.

DRIVEN FROM PARADISE 211 could be expected of them if they allowed the Maestro to be served by the best local firm. and wished. Giuseppe Adami was requested to expurgate and rewrite the text. He then set to work. among them rather a shop-soiled and threadbare specimen of a pro piece of the first for popular cabaret entertainments. girl with an assortment of lovers. he was aghast. What he would have . Yet even Adami's version failed to satisfy Puccini. for he had originally reserved them for Italy and South America only. but it was under stood that the work was to be a grand opera. to feel that no money in the world would induce him to associate such rubbish with his music. The fabricators of the original book were now to act merely as the translators of the new version. as before. but they were ready to come to some other form of agreement. that is. but still with a linger He would have liked to be rid of the work. banality. and the matter was ultimately settled in this way. and they felt sure that Puccini would be delighted with it. and yet another one had to be written. He began to see what he had embarked upon. But Puccini was not delighted. pared to deliver their goods sought after as purveyors of subjects They were always pre vincial Don Juan trying to inevitable final mother who writes letters. he wondered how he had ever been able to entertain such an idea. Vienna. by von Willner and Reichert. and now produced a from the supplies they already had in quality It was about a stock. who were much promptly. The Viennese theatrical directors were naturally reluctant to release the composer from the obligations to which he had pledged himself. together with the nor did they spare him a renunciation-scene of the most sickly and oleaginous The whole thing was a sophisticated blend of the of La Trauiata with the light-heartedness of La Eoheme^ nobility together with a large admixture of hackneyed sentimentality. ing dissatisfaction. and to determine that he neither could nor would write an operetta at all in fact. and the original production was reserved. to the Carltheater. and not an operetta. to acquire the performing rights over La Rondine for the whole world. moreover. be Parisian.

instead of simply waiting till the madness that had descended upon the world was over. produced for the first time at Monte Carlo. had he been sent a libretto that was worthy of In the eyes of reasonable be regarded as a breach of . after all. wished to acquire the work. who had not to do anything irregular. that is. an alien libretto. Puccini accepted the proposal with a sigh of opera. the Italian news papers accused him of lack of patriotism for having composed music to an Austrian. open to some question. to agree to this. Sonzogno. to But now the war broke out. else. reluctantly and with many sighs. to smooth all difficulties from his path and to arrive at a settlement of all the obligations into which he had entered. his action might. however. for He completed the and had which he suddenly began to feel a particular affection. I have a right to be proud of it'. If that is my This last statement is. patriotism and love of Italy. wound up with the emphatic words: Monsieur Daudet's accusation accordingly resolves itself into this: that I have * a public statement. men. deliver his work at a stated time. and it may well be asked whether he would have availed himself of the pretext of the war in this way. and he served. Puccini resolved to it make whose cause he had always actively both professionally and as a private person. For the only time in his life. however. volunteered to come to terms with The Master was Vienna. and for the first time in his life Puccini refused had to pledge himself. rendering all contracts null and void. so that in future the composer would have to deal direct with him alone. and Leon Daudet next started a campaign against the Master in L? Action franfaise^ reproaching him with not having abandoned a work which brought him into relation with countries at war with the Entente. and need not trouble about anybody relief. But now attacks began to rain down upon him. He quite justifiably insisted upon his withdrawn from our enemies something that was their property and entrusted my work to an Italian publisher. crime.212 preferred most of GIACOMO PUCCINI all would have been to cancel the contract and regain The Viennese directors naturally his freedom. anxious. contract.

Puccini was particularly attached to this unfortunate mistake. Possibly it does not possess the freshness of invention as the earlier ones. his careful workmanship. There is no need to attach much importance to washed-out. I have always had a feeling that the reason why he embarked upon the whole business. there is not a single bar in it that does not echo something he has said before. and the trace of his But the impression individuality. These were original compositions written by Giovacchino Forzano. when combined with // well suited to fill the bill at they form the most promising cycle. that. con pieces was so entirely different Tabarroy tent. and above all. unworthy of his name: his light touch. from the other in setting. upon the agreement cause to be proud if with Sonzogno. or teem same pieces. instead of the inferior production of Herren Willner and Reichert. this opera.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE 213 him. and this Triptych turned out to be one of his masterpieces. he might have had just the opera had only been a little better. youthful . felt the affection. not a phrase that can possibly be regarded as an enrichment of it Everything is colourless and. that parents feel for backward children. to make a very long flight. But in but spite of all his efforts. can still be recognized in it. Puccini grouped them together under the title of // Trimco (The Triptych). apart from all this. and no real work of art has ever arisen out of such motives. was merely in order that he might annoy Tito Ricordi and show his independence of him. Yet. from beginning Not that the music produces is that of an imitation of himself. to end. for which he mingled with a sense of secret guilt. he never contrived to obtain any This Swallow' could never be sporadic successes with it. and had the double distinction of being terse and effective dramatic anecdotes and at the same time Each of the presenting a brilliant contrast to each other. an opera-house. the Master had in the meantime succeeded in finding subjects for two more one-act his personal idiom. and historical colour. encouraged By way of compensation for this. as it were. La Rondine is feeble Hardly ever has Puccini been less is happily inspired.

before her child died. or the bright sunshine of old Florence. II Tabarro (The Cloak) is the closing scene of a matrimonial drama. and in the third the atmosphere of sly hypocrisy. and in the in we have third the typically Tuscan atmosphere of hearty laughter. on the other hand. which belongs to no age. pious faith of the penitent nun. By them for their assignation up to cajole him with feigned submissiveness. a stevedore on his barge. yet at the same time lends each of the three pieces its own individual musical idiom. it that easily lends itself to music. 1 by Messrs. a background of pure gold. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. All these provide opportunities at which any composer would * have grasped with rapture. It is true that all three of these miniature dramas have a setting suggest the sombre night sky. in another the gentle. and when his wife. Or one the joyless. while a supreme sense of style preserves the unity of the whole. whether oppressive atmosphere of guilty love and an elderly man's jealousy. . is jealous of his wife 1 and of Henri. Again. as though touched by his reminder of how often. surprises the young man. for the period costumes are mere externals. in the second the sweet piety and suavity of the convent. jovial mockery characterizing a rogue in the age of Dante. comes other. He hides the corpse in his cloak. forces from him a confession of his adulterous love. right place. are Michele and Luigi. and Puccini has succeeded in turning them to advantage with positive bravura. The names in the vocal score published G. for their parents had been neighbours^ and they have now fallen in love with each accident he gives the signal agreed upon between by night. and cunning. we have in one of these pieces the sultry. Marcel. to him and tries uneasy and conscious of her guilt. oppressive atmosphere of the again.GIACOMO PUCCINI with spontaneous musical creativeness as richly as usual. an elderly barge-owner. Ricordi and Co. and strangles him. but. she had been wrapped in his cloak after the heat of the was day over. Every touch of colour is in the and there are no thin passages. proletarian quarters of Paris on the banks of the Seine. it has a noble elevation and an art that compel our sincere admiration.

has died. They now send for the cunning Gianni Schicchi. and in another a corpse that put to . bends over her graciously. dictates a new will to the notary. with a pre liminary warning to the crowd of would-be heirs that the Florentine law condemns the forger of a will to have his arm chopped off by the executioner. but the Madonna herself floats down to her in a glory of dazzling light. the old bigot But all the time may have left his He cannot dispense with the stinging savour of In the cruelty. however. whether it sitting on her lap. at whom this arrogant set of people has hitherto looked askance. Suor Angelica last a of noble birth. just become betrothed. But we may note that. even in these three impeccable short operas. in which he throws a sop to each of them. We is Angelica's child. relatives sit In Gianni Schicchi the crocodile's tears at legacy-hunting bedside of Buoso Donati. but reserves the lion's share of the property to himself. and gives her the child that is are left in doubt. who young nun has spent the object persuading her to renounce her property in favour of her younger sister3 who has On learning from her aunt that her son. she sinful earthly love. while his daughter and young Rinuccio are locked in an embrace. He has the dead man carried into the next room. or the infant Jesus. and finally drives the whole pack of them out of the house. Her aunt the princess. in the second a suicide is through taking poison. seven years expiating a woman of austere plucks poisonous herbs in the convent garden with the intention of killing herself. This delightfully burlesque version of a very human comedy was suggested by three or four verses from the Divine Comedy. a comes to visit her with the of severity. we have a man strangled to death. weeping the who they are really worrying lest a presentiment large fortune to the Church and the monks which soon receives confirmation. next impersonates the dead man.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE he throws it 215 fall open and lets the dead lover's body is at her feet as she collapses in a faint. he first has just died. and then be sent into exile. and lies down on the bed himself. and whose daughter is loved by one of the young heirs. the fruit of her forbidden passion.

this dominates the whole of the first as the bustle of satisfied half of the drama. The known as 'La rag-picker. and. clinging with stupid persistence to the same note. subtly sensitive melodies . such as had not hitherto been noticeable in Puccini's rather feminine. for a casetta a little house of her own but we have . how dainty and naive is the chanson sung by the hawker of songs (II Venditore). in its effect delicately piquant harmony. the pleasing. in which suspensions and their reso lutions are sounded simultaneously. involving a threat of mutilation by the public executioner. How vigorous. and the indifference of the dark river as it flows by. fresh. that Puccini has remained true to his character. Frugola (The Busybody)'. if not with very great sympathy. The with their languid. swaying motive and very opening bars. with the amusingly discordant sevenths of the abominable hurdystoria di is *E la Mimi gurdy. ('Twas the story of Mimi)' . and heavy is the brisk measure of the original drinking song. see. only to compare her curiously hurried little song. But these tersely constructed dramatic situations have pro vided him with opportunities for great musical achievements. and constantly reverting to it in a way that exactly . In II Tabarro we are surprised from the outset to note a harsh ness of tone.2i 6 GIACOMO PUCCINI We a dishonest use. thanks to Puccini's unfailing secret of bringing out the varied possi bilities of all his symbolic themes. then. a virile solidity. with its delicious allusion to La Boheme in the refrain the sullen sense of bitterness felt sorrows of man. how delightful the simple waltz played out of tune by the barrel-organ. yet un languor that accompanies the sunset hour. almost suggesting an allusion to Stravinsky. longs. and this music evokes a powerful atmosphere far more intense than the not very original tragedy in itself. convey a most suggestive impressionist picture of evening hours on the Seine. heedless of the But it further suggests with unsurpassed power by weary men dulled by the servitude of hopeless toil. like Tosca. rendering the impression of monotony day gradually subsides. whose work Puccini always followed with curiosity and eager attention.

and saved from yearning upwards by sometimes abbreviating and sometimes extending the rhythm. pure Not a single male voice is heard. soft. velvety tones of the contraltos. has so rapidly declined in popular estimation by comparison with the other two. are heard immediately after it. It suggests the inexorable river with its unchanging flow. childlike quisitely sweet. If only the plot its characters were less repellent and uninterest they that are responsible for the fact that this one-act its masterly concentration and uncommonly powerful atmosphere. almost funereal theme. in SHOT Angelica. even these find it hard to maintain their position in the piece. Even singers. with the dreamy harmonies and sensuous warmth of the beautiful Fiona's melodies. strained yet spasmodic its rhythm and further. too. are not fond of singing in this piece. . into oblivion. blended with the tone of the organ. and ex But the chanting nuns in the convent have such pure tones of sheer innocence and gentle devotion. afterwards acquires a fearful. an exquisite harmony that warms the heart though perhaps it is all a little too clear. to perceive how much more sharply Puccini now The love theme in B fiat major. unassuming existence. Here we have harmonies recalling the colour in Murillo's paintings. . as we have already said. all banality whereas the catastrophe itself is conceived with greater musical economy. . rushing impetus in the murder-scene. with a frank. with its re brooding. if only for the sake of the magnificent contrast that is produced when the it Yet should not be allowed to fall first notes of the bells. and they are to some extent justified in this . which produces a stirring and powerful effect. the of the piece and ing! It is unchanging flow of time as well. free movement. . in such a way as to lend it abundant variety. for the fact remains that it contains no effective roles.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE 217 symbolizes her narrow. with repertory. and. characterizes his figures. nothing but the clear women's sopranos and the deep. is well suited to a pair of young and healthy working-class lovers. celestial blue and silver. who usually compete eagerly for little Puccini roles. though Michele's sombre monologue. though.

but most finely of all by Lotte Lehmann in Vienna. rarely can it have had such an intimate appeal as at a performance of of which there is no record on any play-bill. we are given little gladness and charming seriousness. and may have seen the Church opening before harp by the strains of the organ. of all soul. is only a stage miracle. him. while the whole is shaped by a careful thumbnail sketches. as it were. that stab like icy. and in which the it As were. tones devoid. whom he loved with all his heart. and we can hardly be it figures of the legend formed. piercing needles. We can see how Puccini's ecclesiastical music had developed since his days in Lucca. but not particularly expressive hymns. as we have mistaken in supposing that her lift. in which the miracle takes place. finding no counterpart in the music. and the melody of Angelica's first song has a note of absolute submission and abnegation of all personal will. such as that of the sister who is stung by a wasp. Puccini's elder sister Romelde. that they reconcile us to a good deal of sameness . Angelica's passionate outburst of grief breaks into the midst like a lava-stream into a withered garden. expressing nothing but senile heartlessness till and pitiless arrogance. a scene drawn by a master's Here are hand. still smoulders unquenched run the whole effect would be were not for the stirring scene between Angelica and the Princess. But in in the long if it monotonous colour. Only the orchestra betrays the flame that at her heart.2i 8 GIACOMO PUCCINI and meticulous hand. their own public. Un fortunately the final scene. Her brother visited her as often as he could. accompanied The composer was still a thoroughly mundane one. There are some perfectly delicious episodes in the piece. already related. which forms the central point of the whole. The part of Suor Angelica has been sung by a number of great singers. the chatter of the nuns is full of fascinating touches of inspiration. and the with its real apotheosis effects is that which takes place in the orchestra. had gone into a convent. and bright suavity of tone. but never the heavens. and perhaps her destiny . the heavenly hosts sing noble. and But every time it has touched the heart of the public.

droning.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE too. all the of comedy do homage to Puccini. thing of her own experience. and were stirred to the depths of their hearts by the sorrows of their suffering sister. his sister longed was forbidden. but. secret agitation. all capti vating in their traditional roguery. slight. with a more cultivated artistic taste. but never a more pious with a more understanding heart. When it eagerly to hear it. for her order was with wide eyes. on the last chord of which the knave seems to leap down from the stage. to the short. roguish epilogue. or the soaring melody of the duettino between the lovers. In it Gianni Schicchi is the crown of the whole Triptych. hypocritical whine of the praying mourners. hymn-like song in praise of Florence. they produce a fresh effect that cheers the heart. and played and sang the opera to her and the other nuns. with the furtive. from the very beginning. strictly enclosed. 219 of were what really inspired him with this delicate piece operatic pastel. The few lyrical passages in it are not Puccini at his very best. too. one. im ploring the Blessed Virgin to intercede for the penitent sinner. but this Giacomo accordingly went to the convent. into details. It is an odd thing. Even in this piece a very another till it is all this exuberant jollity. he cannot burst out laughing here. subtle cloud seems to lie upon It is impossible to enter but perhaps this is a charm the more. for instance in the lilting. but Puccini can only smile . the pompous absurdity . the master good spirits of farcical humour: they titter and mock. abuse and hoax one a joy to watch them. the maidenly fervour of Lauretta's prayer. while side by side with all this we have a giddy whirl of scenes. They sat there was completed. the work is entirely made up of 'details'. Certainly the work has often had a more intellectual audience. transfixed with ecstasy and full of a and each of them found in this music some They crowded round the Master. from a full heart and an easy mind. occurring where they do. asking him to tell them the story of the unhappy Angelica. representing the comic fury of the avaricious heirs. till at the end they all knelt down and prayed for the salvation of the nun who had committed suicide.

Little by little the public would be sure to get fond of it. They found fault with him for lacking depth. though the piece is too good to be very treated like this. cackling like geese and braying like asses. he never felt himself to be the victim of some dread fate. when a two-act opera has to be performed is required to fill the bill. which swallows rapturously so much that is mediocre. and I may take that of the German critics as I mean. but during his lifetime Puccini was thoroughly lectured even by the 'real' critics in Germany. has none the a permanent home in opera-houses outside Gianni Schicchi alone continues to pursue his knaveries Italy. I have reserved for the present occasion the few words I have to say about the attitude adopted towards Puccini by critics outside Italy. for the first time on nth January 1919. while the orchestra turns everything to ridicule. is a joy from the first bar to the last. the news papers castigated him as though he had been a criminal. and was recognized as a masterpiece even by the less failed to find critics. and not the irritating type who are presumptuous enough to set themselves up as self-appointed judges of art. of course. whether it is babbling out all their most intimate secrets and supplying a malicious commentary upon what is going on. and so ought the critics. and never posed as such. a purpose for which well adapted. those of them who are serious typical judges. or suddenly It turning dignified. the pathetic buffoonery of the notary and the defrauded heirs. amid tre mendous applause from the public and the royal family. and ought more often to be presented as such to the public. here and there.220 GIACOMO PUCCINI of the death-bed. and every time a new opera was produced. Rome. or joining in the hypocritical mourning. Possibly things have changed by now. But he was also stigmatized as a . The Trittico. which was performed at the Teatro Costanzi. The work as a whole was conceived as a and something it is unity. Directors of opera-houses ought to have more courage. and in their ignorance take up a superior standpoint towards everything. and he certainly is not deep.

and on the wrong grounds. too. and if they can actually take a are subscription ticket for the purpose of being bored. though he is not capable of lifting us out of them. which nobody would think of defending. and. and as though they had an uneasy con science at listening to any other.DRIVEN FROM PARADISE y 221 'drawing-room musician (Salonmusiker)' and his music dis missed as insipid and fit only for hotel orchestras. as though Germans did not consider music worth anything unless it bored them. full of southern warmth and overflowing with inspired melody. course they feel it their duty to regard anything pleasing and charming the as vulgarly banal. and reserved for those consecrated hours in which we are rapt away from everyday life and the necessities of existence: and in gripping the public. or why we should be expected to prefer to him either stilted boredom necessarily It is almost or those whose motto is 'experiment at any price'. though he possessed a sense of the theatre. It is symptomatic of a serious all confusion of ideas that musicians lacking in sense of the having theatre are being for ever extolled to the skies. none the less delights us by a really rare wealth of genuine music. which seems Even his unique talent for the theatre to me rank injustice. they a matter of As sure that what they hear must be immortal. any one who succeeds in following his example by composing works capable of achieving the same thing deserves that we should abase ourselves to the dust before him. when they Matthew Passion and are given the choice between Parsifal they go to Madame Butterfly. and positively it imputed to them as a merit that they cannot succeed It would appear as though Richard and imperishable work of art has done much Wagner's lofty His idea of a Festspiel is one that to confuse people's ideas. in spite of all his weaknesses. aims at an experience standing apart from ordinary existence. and. But it is rather difficult to understand why we should therefore throw mud at a composer who raises everyday things to a higher plane. who enchants us with 'the small things'. But their children listen to it with secret pleasure. . for the critics alleged that. was cast in his teeth. there was none in his music.

their art. In // Tabarro the signal that the lover may approach unmolested is given by striking a match. The difference between the two expresses what I am trying to imply. we ought not to try to measure one of them by the standards of the other. spiritual possession We ought not to while Puccini is 'only' a sensuous pleasure? between which no ground of comparison exists. But let us then recall the torch in Tristan.222 GIACOMO PUCCINI I hundredth time. repeat. compare things but in the same way. which serves the same purpose and likewise leads towards death. and the relation between them. that Wagner is a and enriches the whole content of our life. for the Must . The torch and the match are symbolic at once of the two composers.

scene. and took an decay. of his music his imagination had to be stirred by exuberant flow some dramatic situation.CHAPTER XIII A DREAM OF THE EAST ('TURANDOT*) BY this time Puccini had fresh cause for melancholy: his age. after the con centrated tragedies of the Trittico^ with which he had associated enough ideas music having the terse brevity of the Morse code. and. most of all. and he realized that. and they could never submit cause him any ' to him. no libretto. for his own part. motor-boats. when he once again desired to write a work of some length. the difficulty he experienced in producing any thing. his incapacity for filling his time with intellectual pursuits. which is that a man still youth's has time before him. Only consider how many years I carry on my back/ was the constant plea with which he appealed to his librettists. he no longer had any too much. and shooting. and am We of his almost morbid the spectacle suffering during the pauses in his creative moved every time by work. He had to enter 223 . Not that he could detect in himself the slightest sign of physical He was as supple and strong as ever. But he was conscious of excessive irritation. or gesture. but I have are strangely misery'. over again Over and of we find the old complaint: 'I am full of a feverish in a state desire to work. and that certain symp toms of diabetes had appeared as the inevitable accompaniment for he was by now in his sixties failed to of his time of life undiminished pleasure in as well as in the fickle hearts of . for he wanted them to be on the look out for subjects night and day. so long as In order to set free the he had no libretto to work upon. however richly his brain might teem with music. motoring. women and the fact that he occasionally had trouble with his larynx. particularly at this period. most important implication.

with Giuseppe as the captain who should steer him back to the shores Meanwhile of those regions of art in which he was at home. now and then shooting a few wildtechnical devices. not created by himself. and was compositions all that it upon lay figures. foreign but always But the remains upon earth. In spite of his always bound to hang considerable technical ability. During these periods of paralysis he seemed as though ship wrecked on the reefs of boredom. remains to some extent an enigma. a meta to concrete reality physical quality transcending him. Moreover. duck. he is certainly not a symphonic from his mosaiccomposer. the power of of construction lacks the faculty We which them in relation to one another. or to pour forth his soul in it directly. as in other types of music. or go for drives in his motor. or occupy himself with He always took a childlike delight in original . he would lie in his boat. through the melodic curve that holds and articulation. possesses virtue to order and shed an inner light upon generate values of a higher the dramatic action. that which constitutes the greatness of the true symphonic composer that is is. fact that. he is unable to make any subjective confession in his music. for his failed to open the flood-gates of the It is music stored remarkable to find such dependence upon some extraneous drama in words on the part of one who has of the orchestral interludes of his operas shown in so many what a wealth of emotion he had to express in the wordless cannot help wondering instruments. language of the the faculty of pouring forth in orchestral whether he really lacked stirred his innermost feelings. his only mode of achieving unity is He the whole together. He does not look upwards to the stars. and remained restlessly on Adami the look-out for any ship that might save him. into the experiences of his characters. but requires the medium of imaginary characters. in spite of all.224 GIACOMO PUCCINI own personal experience up within him. the form of an intermezzo. developing motives and placing in opera. imprisoned in what is material. even when he occasionally departs and composes a complete movement in like thematic method.

.

friend. Affectionately. below the ' Thcv epiglottis sure me that I shall not and they even say that I shall get well suffer pain I am now to hope-some days ago I had lost all hope of a cure. What days and what hours [we prepared f r wyttmg.-s- y /^^^ *^-*- ( jj *J >i+*<>&- <_ <5z&t~L? x - A cn^ ^ *^*-^ " - syJ&QLv^ - -r^ ^^ ->"*.Write to me sometimes. For the present the treatment *s not too bad external but God knows what applications y are going to do to me on Mondayso as to get at the inside. your tooted? J r devoted. &tacomo. c^^^-^v PUCCINI'S LAST LETTER (facsimile) Wednesday evening. ysn ^ . Dear Adamino.

for he : gates Q it. 'my life has been Who filled with work and passed amid modest circumstances. Why can this only have been?' is no answer. you have got to learn a lesson)'. what is more. as far as I have been able reward has been an abundance of malice. and. rain if they all. as a wild beast is with its . and it would have been impossible to apply to him the latter's words ihr sollt was lernen 'Ich schreibe nicht. I have never got in anybody else's way. by constructing a system of pierced pipes for watering his garden during periods of drought. It was his necessary only delight to drench the thirsting shrubs. and all such mechanical trifles. he remained like a great child. but they did not as a rule on the contrary and. and he was prouder tions really was of it than of all his operas put together he made himself master : of the rain. Yet for all this. I was can say what others might have done in my place? always cut off from the world. moreover. even when it loves him. He would amuse himself been inherited by his son Tonio. euch zu gefallen do not write to please you. (I The public is always restive under the hand of him who subju To this question there is concerned. by inventing such things himself.A DREAM OF THE EAST mechanisms specially 225 for everyday use. like a shepherd on the Campagna. complained of the unbearable heat. and having it carried up The water was pumped up. indeed. however. they carried into effect. and at times bitterly: from men/ he once said to his friend Pagni. pencils of abnormal size. and have helped people. least of all where Puccini was the very opposite of Goethe. prove very practicable One of his inven were hardly ever put to practical use. constructed pocket torches. and my according to my powers. and it was to the height of a tree. can he have been one of those 'necessitous masters (hochbedurftige Meister)' to whom Hans Sachs refers in Die Meistersingert He often complained of the troubles of 'I have always lived remote life. his un them with an abundant shower of cooling In every way. to press a lever to set it playing. such as gigantic cigar-lighters. above suspecting guests. a tendency which has. it is true.

It was a man's voice of incredible beauty. days when he had had to go hungry and stay his stomach with He was always ready to bean soup in order to still its pangs. afflictions own save by creating image. and he made no change in his way of few wants. and did so in absolute secrecy and on the most generous scale every month he would give away with lavish hand from two to three thousand lire in charity. clear and stable'. could find no way of escape from the unstable soul. obtain a pardon for the Queen Italy. Yet. in fact. too. GIACOMO PUCCINI But though of his his primitive existence could boast every modern comfort. Puccini was one of those rare people whose heart does not become metamorphosed into gold. a 'memorial. without never made him with its : inquiring too closely whether. But Puccini could not conceive that one who sang in such a voice and with such feeling could any the He therefore invoked the intercession of and did. of affection for the rest of his life. in an growing profusion. for he had been sent to the galleys for attempted murder. and associated . for wealth hard. and so out : it full of soul that it stirred him to the depths. He was anything but a courtier. he still remembered the living. as him year after year in showers of gold that poured down upon he. assist anybody in need. and still had his feet in irons.226 tamer. Perhaps the best proof of his devotion was that he did not become an opera-singer. condemned man. much as he loved his retirement. and remained devoted to the Master with a dog-like really be a criminal. he was beside himself when he had to lay his colours and brushes aside for a time untouched. Moreover. Puccini's relations with the royal family were a source of de light to him. he found pleasure in well as in the every token of his steadily increasing renown. in the long run. so easily clouded by shadows. which could be summed up all his youth and the feminine And this is why tenderness that had been lavished upon him. his good nature was abused or not. One day he heard someone singing out side his window. He looked was a convict who had been told off for road-mending. who was now allowed to return to his wife and child.

and give any thing approaching an adequate rendering of his own music. He had to report intimate circle. which they showed in many more ways than interest taken in He merely by attending the first performances of his operas. and had a loud buzzing in his ears. in spite of all his convinced monarchism. enthusiast for Puccini's music. and only The artist reappeared when he had to strum on the piano. which afflicted him in society of all sorts alike and often made him perfectly wretched. except when he was asked to a very poor pianist. Yet this bungling student from the Conservatorio at Milan. as though he were still the clumsy. so timidity that it was only by a supreme effort that he could overcome his San Rossore. the Master was invited to luncheon whenever beloved paralysing shyness enough to respond to the wishes of his Queen Elena and the little princesses. interested herself with all the . whether from memory or with the notes before him. When the queen and the Princess Mafalda in they went into residence for the summer at this in their most was possible.A DREAM OF THE EAST 227 with the king and queen and the princesses as though he had been their equal. the cordial and informal tone that prevailed between him and these royal ladies was so thoroughly friendly and frank that his original embarrassment soon disappeared. he felt himself to be quite on an equality. and his habitual play something. for he was rendered his defective piano technique even worse. thought in the shape of orders. far less of the marks of distinction conferred upon him. for the Princess Mafalda. an ardent music-lover and an easy. For the rest. in him made him loathe playing such a sorry role. to them how the opera upon which he was engaged was getting on. for he felt absolutely stupefied and confused all the while. than of the interest taken in both him self and his work by particular. but to his invincible timidity. with whom. But what he welcomed was the genuine and enlightened the royal him by all the members of house. and was quite unembarrassed. and he always This was not always did all he could to evade these commands. was not due to excess of respect for the high rank of his listeners. in virtue of his own artistic ancestry.

that is. by a de pessa innamorata' from Gozzi's original. in which.228 GIACOMO PUCCINI intense eagerness of youth in Turandot. though ardent and secretly cherished desire that Puccini should dedi But the Master's subtle ear divined cate the new work to her. thanks to the -unknown prince's kiss. though For this reason alone. death had struck the pen But the noble young creature guessed how uncomfortable he felt when he was forced to play before them. words on the score. on returning home with a . in the vain hope of being stimulated by this witty writer of comedies to compose a gay comic opera. him to evade the queen's repeated wishes without offending Her Majesty. Turandot. inspiration of At last he had found the subject that was to crown his lifework. if anxious to hear this work at once. She was now sciously she had assisted the happiness he saw glowing in her betrothed. Puccini had even applied to the amusing Tristan Bernard. and he was happy. her wish. which was being com she hardly liked to express her posed at that time. eyes that suggested to him the idea of the moment in which 'Turandot principessa crudelissima diviene Turandot princithe moment. as his children called it. and it was for no other. was naturally against etiquette. It had been his intention to word the dedication as follows : inscribe the 'My Princess to a Princess'. too. But there was another reason too: for all uncon him in his work. 'the princess in love'. is due to a personal Puccini's own. and had been an agonizing one. 'povera faccia'. But the anecdote of the black man who had been exhibited in Europe in' a 'negro village'. scene in which becomes Turandot. The search had lasted even longer than usual. with which he sat down to the piano when even remotely So she quietly helped threatened with anything of the sort. 'the most cruel of all parture princesses'. The Turandot becomes a woman with a feeling heart. but before he could from his hand. to dedicate his opera to this beautiful king's daughter with a passion for art. as well as rather proud. and. he resolved to dedicate Turandot to the Princess Mafalda. and noticed the the 'suffering face'.

All of a sudden. an English piece based upon Dickens. saying that he quite agreed. But this was a difficult problem. Adami describes the whole scene in most lively At fashion in his illuminating introduction to Puccini's letters. and it quite impressed me'. when. The Maestro consented. and everything they proposed was rejected by Puccini. a sort of epitome of his themes. the The composer was name of Carlo Gozzi was thrown out suggestion that it in passing. last he abruptly made up his mind. than all three of them took fire translation of Schiller's version was simultaneously. it must be from Gozzi's version and from Schiller's too. but only for one who is And he knew the reason why. but it must not be any particular piece. but at each of them they all three shook their heads. that he was incapable of composing any music suited to creatures . but remark was: 'If I compose a Turandot. in men whom making anything out of Molly.A DREAM OF THE EAST few white 229 he had captured. went to Milan to see them. and put a pistol to their heads by saying that he would not go home till they had settled upon a subject. which was capable of love'. I have no use for the bloodthirsty woman. treated them in the same way.. but then waited and waited with a more and more piteous face. No sooner had he mentioned the name. while his literary treasure-hunters continued to give no sign. The librettist Renato Simoni as a now proposed to call in the writer collaborator. he exclaimed How would Turandot do ? I saw the thing pro * : duced by Reinhardt in Berlin. Puccini straightened himself with a jerk. somehow seemed a little too 'original' to suit Nor was Adami very successful the composer of La Boheme. only the essence of them all. as Puccini was about to tuck his just slippers into the trunk. till such time as they should be eaten. already packing his bag in desperation at having to depart empty-handed. his first different and the Maestro took it with him on his journey. with the might not be a bad thing to look through his fantastic comedies. just as one of them was handing him his dressing-case and the other his pyjamas. charging a fee for exhibiting them. Adami and Simoni ran through a few titles. A sent for.

full of poetic feeling. and his suggestions bore fruit and were always entirely to the point. motives every time a suitor appeared. and Puccini took the elaborately ornate as coiling dragons embroidered in heavy gold. so that Turandot intended to test every suitor. done but hated and despised all men in memory of the wrong to her ancestress. though. Thanks to this idea a fine libretto was produced. and revenge herself upon the whole male sex by the death of the rejected ones. at any rate. She had failed to find a to single real man among them all. as though she were only a capricious creature in a fairy tale. 'Put Gozzi aside for a little while. probably knew Voltaire's saying: 'What is too be silly to be said greatest He He may . and who have their wooers put to death out of mere caprice. who has been betrayed and reduced poverty by her husband. offering the possibility of a change of heart. or. 'and work with a little logic and imagination'. yet humanly convincing and full of fire and passion. one worthy of her love. in his untiring suggestions for giving greater animation and dramatic impressiveness to the work. or as Chinese interest in was composing the music for it. if Turandot is to be more than a mere purveyor of victims for the executioner. and his exhorta tions were successful. the consequences work out logically and consistently. in point of fact. once the premises are accepted. a sort of combined masque and drama of sex hostility. but she was to be haunted by the fate of an ancestress. and is. fantastic dreams and Chinese colour.230 GIACOMO PUCCINI whose love finds expression in cutting off heads. There must be a substratum of humanity. at so much is taken for granted. which she had never The is explanation least. who arouses universal repulsion. in scenes as as lain porce with greens and reds on a white ground. no more than a puppet moved by insen rather than a being of flesh and blood. daintily grotesque as lacquered designs. in the world of fairy-tales. a tolerable one.' he kept on admonishing them. An idea was found that would explain Turandot's character: she was not to act out of merely sadic sate cruelty. where forgotten.

corresponding It was prince who appears to woo her. to be shown as one who hates her and longs to be loved not only for the sake of her enchanting mask. but it could not be permitted to justify anything utterly irrational. merely serve as the background for a drama of fierce passion and sacrifice. She had. though the music may sometimes produce the effect of Puccini at second hand. which is that of the Chinese world of bizarre fantasy. lending all that happened the atmosphere and changing hues of dream. which. He insisted upon having his way. and would have had to die too. but. who elucidates the riddle. and fallen in love in turn. much to the advantage of the work. too. who insists upon exhibiting her brilliant intellect at the cost of the lives of the men she destroys. in spite of her apparently insatiable She deliberately desires cruelty. had she not been overcome by her feelings. she means to choose this destroy way . handing them over to execution in obedience to an ancient law. is his maturest and most weighty pro duction. but for her own sake alone. Turandot is a woman who propounds three riddles to each of the princes suing for her hand such difficult and obscure ones that they fail to guess any of them and then has all those who have failed beheaded.A DREAM OF THE EAST sung in 231 opera '. while she herself remains quite unmoved. in his frenzy of love. . however. moreover. But this woman is still too abstract. necessary to reveal her as being something more than a spoilt. whom young own baleful beauty. Yet for all this. to make herself hideous but since she cannot bring herself to the beauty of her face. Next she is subjugated by Calaf. and he was very careful not to it. in fact. full of vanity. too braical equation an to the unknown much like the unknown quantity in an alge unknown princess. even though this causes suffering to her as well. which. gives himself into her power once more. into slip The fairy-tale let any absurdities was intended to raise atmosphere everything to the plane of fantasy. as well as in its intricate ornament and restless splendour. masterly in its colour. and I can quite imagine what it was. the composer seems still to have felt some This thing lacking. self-willed creature.

hieratically rigid. and his orchestral been enriched to a hardly conceivable degree. every time I hear Turandot. Puccini has not changed. in a diminished form. feel as though the music were And a remarkable and compelling work. yet the next moment darkly turbid It is with the music of an anguished soul and the tormenting feverfits of a In it we find intricate heraldic forms passionate love. each complete in itself. and panting. full of sombre splendour. broad. and through it all rings the sobbing outcry of a heart laid bare.232 GIACOMO PUCCINI of testing even the suitor of her choice. but his style has become different. the bony clatter of the xylophone suggests the skeletons in a dance of death. It is obviously . the melodramatic composer. exalted. which next. find an opening motive like a personal signa ture that of Turandot. palette has the musical Once again we feature shouts and is the singing melody in the orchestra. strange drums are heard that rattle and roll. the curious thing is that. side by side with human and suffering Porcelain figures give forth music. and are intended to reveal her true nature to her suitor. but offers an un opening mistakable invitation to broader forms and well-rounded-off look in vain here for numbers. in order that she may know that it is not her body only that he desires. crashes out in the explosive chords that announce piercingly the mandarin's entry. We Yet feuilletonist. and musical automata figures. the celesta and cymbals add their silvern glitter and flash of gold. and not only her bewitching exterior. bells tinkle. herself. I telling us all this. but her soul Even her too. bar bears the trace of his Every hand. which does not seem quite in keeping with the murmurs of the frightened crowd. All this allows no for mosaic-like minuteness of detail. the gong booms. riddles have to betray something of that which her pride will not allow her to express otherwise. after which it is developed thematically the howls of the A striking throughout bloodthirsty crowd. and that Puccini has expressed in his music a Turandot whom his librettists failed to create. processions of mandarins and eunuchs go past with mechanical pomp.

the loving slave. and shouts of Al supplizio! Muoia! (To the scaffold! Slay him!) mingle piercingly with * 7 the whole. all provide a telling and not too pregnant contrast. ghostly chorus formed by the shadows of the dead suitors. across which quiver the pale suggestive of a vague. like a passing flash. sad. leaving us. simultaneously with the grindstone. and all Next we have the procession to the place of execution. hardened to bloodshed. though there is an incomparably stronger force of suggestion in the few bars of the sweet. again. like an elegy over the victim's untimely death with its plaintive nobly mournful rhythm of an unheroic dead march. however. which seems to revolve suggestive of their grinning faces. veiled notes. the banefully lovely cause horror. evoking of the rising moon. solemn folk-tune. delicate tones of the orchestra and the clear bird-notes of the flutes and. all is -over. sly. almost formless melody then comes a shower rays cello . with a a picture for several bars. and an effect of over-wrought ecstasy. with the changing measure of their droll song of warning. in sustained. of all emblem of the princess. an autumn song with a melancholy charm. producing a grim sense of oppression. The spell cast over Calaf impression of the whole landscape. still singing of their love even in death. Boys' voices are heard singing. the fifteen attendants grindstone with their bass voices are given a brisk. and the bobbing figures in masks. and lulling sextolets on the pedal note held of dark waters. accompanied softly by distant saxophones the humming chorus and the faint boom of the gong mingle with the slight. is over. by the sight of Turandot. The sword of the executioner is sharpened with hideous assiduity. the fervent adjurations of Liu. varying between twofour and three-four time. and the sight of whom has the Next collected a crowd of people. in the . . the turns and turns without ceasing. ushered in by a graceful.A DREAM OF THE EAST the musical 233 the Prince of Persia to his death. with an minor thirds. who is at that moment mercilessly dispatching comes the horrible ensemble of the execution scene. Immediately following this comes the magically tender night music. of figures on the harps and flutes. monotonous motive.

The measure constantly changing. while between them come others that seem is to glimmer like coloured paper lanterns. has suggested to Puccini the idea of a deliciously comical scherzo. the Lord High Steward (Gran Provveditore). effects. in the Imperial Palace is weaker in substance. but reverting every time to the shorter two-four bar. too. daintily ranged in sequence and interwoven with one another. there is no other word for it. neat little in motives. and the Master of the Kitchen (Gran Cudniere) express with farcical dignity and illhumour their disgust with their offices about the Court and the reign of terror that prevails. of the piece. form of a masquerade. with a few reminiscences of the boys' autumn song. and their longing for a quiet in life the country. opens with yet another interlude in the a delicious passage. for immediately after this the second act. a necessary The scene contrast with the stately ceremonial that follows. for the most part tripping in two-four time. hurrying.234 that GIACOMO PUCCINI execution of the accompanied the preceding scene of the And here we may note a defect in the scheme Persian prince. though it ought certainly to be suppressed without further ado were it not that it adds an important touch of colour and. as faint as a breath. none really superfluous number in the less we would not be without it. with restless. like delicate trifles turned in ebony. picturesque enough in their pentatonic Turandot's address is rhetorical and ceremonious which . which depicts the ineffable glory of the Son of Heaven with a fresh virtuosity and the most amazing detail The court procession are is based upon original Chinese motives. or spun out of stiff silk. in spite of the splendour of the music. at the same time. like the paintings on Chinese tea-cups. This is which the three comic masks of the Chancellor. and the whole thing is The great scene simply delicious. and though it is perhaps the only the whole of Puccini's work. Add to this the slightness of the orchestral colour. carved in wood. but afterwards passing into the more idyllic three-four time as they think of their idyllic existence beside 'the lake of blue (taghetfo blu\ all surrounded by bamboo '.

with its ornate cult and foreign type of music the chorus of . is one of the most exquisite passages that Puccini has ever consecrated to any of his feminine characters. And then. exalted theme. that he would have given some to in the music to the different subjects of the pictorial expression riddles and their answers. and the pizzicato violas. Pinkerton. In the little Liu the same excited. her death. It was Franco Alfano who wrote the concluding passage of the opera. and swells to a fine intensity in the chorus of takes up the tranquil. which ends by exasperating The fact that he did not do this is a fourth enigma the nerves. at the same time. Calaf s song in the third act. and cause our very heart Here we are no strings to vibrate in sympathy with her. are all based upon the same theme. melody still based on a wood-wind. accom panied by the poignantly mellow timbre of the accompanying her pain and weakness. and Ramerrez. men and women who this is simply a human creature in all Liu's last song in particular. it was not granted to him to finish the work. and is scene of the torture and death of bear away her frail body. might have of a composer with such an innate been expected. with the aid of the thirty-six pages of the . and in the riddle scene we are struck the fact that not only the three riddles. but afterwards soaring freely upwards. spoken style in the corresponding moments of Tosca and La Fanciulla\ but Liu's appeal to Turandot. 'Nessun dorma (None shall sleep to-night)'.A DREAM OF THE EAST rather than really inspired. are among the gems of this score. with its five-note figure. but also the answers by It them. used to accompany her agony as interjectional. to add to the other three. the sparkling tone of the celesta. At this point the pencil fell from the Master's hand. does not rise to the heights of the arias sung by his predecessors. Cavaradossi. the muted violins. her confession of love. particularly sense of the theatre as Puccini. but it has a noble melodic line of the authentic women which Puccinian type. after this But nothing came after. longer in China. instead of this stately monotony. thus heightening the suspense 3 and. achieving a far more striking musical crescendo.

There are works in which a continuation written after the com poser's death has been so successful that it is scarcely possible to discern where the composer left off and the adapter began. and carefully preserving the Master's style. als weitertratunen kann.236 GIACOMO PUCCINI rough draft which the Master had taken with him on the journey to his sick-room in a distant land.' 1 man . It On was not that occasion the performance ceased till next time that the whole opera was performed. seems superficial and violent. at this point. 1 And this is equally true of Puccini's work. was an unspeakably moving moment when. to quote Hebbel. page is different. There could have been no more worthy way of doing homage to the dead man's memory. everything is harder. and said in a trembling voice: 'Here ends It first the Master's work'. wo ein anderer aufgehort hat. compressed till it contains only what is absolutely essential. and the final scene. entirely suppressing his own personality. in the passionate hope that he might still be able to orchestrate them. The very aspect of the yet we are conscious of the break. during the performance Q^Turandot^t the Scala on 2 ^th April 1926. as completed by Alfano. Such are Mozart's Requiem. 'it is as impossible to continue a poem where another man has left off as it is to continue somebody last else's dream'. was ein anderer getraumt hat. Toscanini laid down his baton at this point. clearer. during the lament over the body of Liu. 'Man kann ebensowenig weiterdichten. Alfano performed his task as a labour of love. the recitative scenes in Carmen^ and Weber's Die Drei Pintos in Gustav Mahler's masterly arrange ment. But. less atmospheric and more rigid.

'I am a poor. He shuddered when he thought further incentive.CHAPTER XIV THE MASK OF SUFFEk T NG four whole years Puccini worked at Turandot with absolute self-surrender. He harassed his librettists as nagging. Puccini's actual words in his letter of II Nov. 74 in Ricordi's vocal score. . e la testa alta vinceremo*. yet the doubts that haunt an artist sometimes You must we shall 1* raised their heads. It seems to . 'My dear Adahe wrote in March 1923. most wretched mino. putting forth his highest faculties. .. 1921 to Adami. why?)'. to do ? I do not know. . 2 Se avete tante volte espresso fiducia in me . perch non m'ami piu? Perch? (Ah. dovreste ascoltarmi e non mettervi nella posizione cH testa sotto le ali. null. 'whether I am not deceiving myself?' he was cheerful. 'Perch&. I 1 old. he had never done before. with me is flagging. were: Mi pare che in voi diminuisca ogni volonta di lavorare con me And in his letter of 8 Nov. me that your willingness to collaborate You should not hide your head under . why can you not love me still? Ah. your wing. shall What am I go to bed. 'Who knows/ he would sigh again and Most of the time again. 1 he wrote. spread your wings and hold your heads 2 Such were the appeals that rained triumph high: down upon them every two or three days. and urging them onwards. He was pleased with his work. and with a FOR meticulous conscientiousness such as scarcely any of his previous works had cost him. . On ward of his age. Le ali devono essere trattato. in the Epistolario. then I shall not think A quotation of Michele's words to Giorgetta in his duet with her in // Tabarro.. but this only proved a without fear or anxiety P was Jiis motto. No. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. but these periods of self-confidence would be followed by times of the deepest depression. 'I ought not to be treated like this. 237 . cajoling.: *Non e cosl che io debbo essere ? .' man. discouraged. a faint dread that he * might be unable to complete it. but at the same time with a secret uneasiness. finding fault. without confidence. spiegate.

printed in the Epistolario. in these works by the youngest genera scores. stuff worthy of these words. 1907 to Tito La musica una ridicola. 'The music is 'Ridiculous whom choreography!' its cacophony pushed to with a certain talent.23 g or fret myself. lo so. were: 'Coreografia 5 nelP cacofonia all estremo. and there were a few of temporaries. Puccini's words. member of the jury in connexion On one with a prize . but what he saw his own work in tion of Italians gave him no cause to burn.' 1 GIACOMO PUCCINI He often felt a physical languor. were: 'Sono un povero uomo tristissimo.' 1 2 utmost limits. Ricordi. He by no means under-estimated his con the times yet. 2 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. the Cossack wildness and barbaric quality of Igor Stravinsky. Curious. Ma insieme. lunatics. Italy in he always showed the keenest interest. added to his claimed him from relapsing occasion. and the If his he becam( with Ttfr*jwfof. . saved liis attention. progress Buffered various distractions. though that is a comparatively mild work. Che fare ? Non e non mi torturo'. was his verdict. and of his vitality were as a rule But these barometric depressions farther he advanced followed shortly afterwards by a rise. March 1923. nullo. Cosl non penso vecchio. them outside however. perd e fatta con un certo talento. so regain his liberty.^ relations with Tito out of humour by reason of his strained all things to reimburse he would h&ve preferred above He and was was also Ricordi. taking it all in all. as a too far into his old melancholy. he had to examine no less than twenty-five operatic competition. Curiosa. in his letter of 6 of TRANSLATOR'S NOTE. though he could not listen to He quite shuddered at Le his music without a slight shock.'the more firml y confident y the variety of business that a check at times. roba da matti'. the sums he had recered from him. in his letter of 27 Nov. He had no need to feel fossilized and behind discouragement. Sacre du Printemfs. whose rhythms fascinated him. printed in the Epistolario. besides which they had a fertilizing effect upon his own harmonic Among them was resources and command of musical colour. irritable more than he had been in earlier days. sfiduciato. Vado a letto. there are some who think In spite Puccini's actual words. yet written But. awilito.

THE MASK OF SUFFERING 239 that Puccini was not entirely unaffected by they can see signs The audacities of the headstrong Russian. with its proud aloofness. music with the value of a rarity. and uniform as in style and tone. that characterize this music. he work. hand. though the overwhelming effect of this work of genius gave him much food for thought. or produce so the monotonous violence of its inexorable an impression by movement. his wholetone scales. malgrado il suo colore sombre> uniforme come un abito francescano'. 1 But there can though be no mistaking the fact that in Butterfly^ and still more in Turandot) we may find echoes of Debussy's characteristic haze of sound. 1 The passage on PdUas ft Mtlisande in Puccini's letter of 15 Nov. Don Juan and Tod und impressed by Till Eulensfiegel> while to contain the Verklarung seemed to him (though wrongly so) But he took an Bavarian master's most magical inspiration. uncommon and individual. monotonous as a Franciscan's frock. . thought far more highly of Strauss's symphonic poems He was greatly than he did of his dramatic compositions. he felt an extraordinary admiration is for his rival's says. and Puccini undoubtedly used these qualities as an On the other element in his most characteristic melodies. of his blurred. Though he had himself desired to compose music far for Pelleas and Melisande. He On one occasion even keener interest in Arnold Sch5nberg. which. had it not been for Stravinsky's example. but least influenced by Richard Strauss. like some subtle opiate. he was not in the He esteemed him. 1906 in the Epistolano jays: *Ha qiaalita straordinarie di armonie e sensazioni diafane strumentate. iridescent mixtures of tone. E veramente interessante. and he hardly the fascination of Salome at all. rather than affectionate. But a stronger effect was that produced upon Puccini by Claude Debussy. he even made a special journey to Venice for the purpose of The impression it produced upon him hearing Pierrot lunaire. the provocative chorus of executioners in the first act of Turandot would scarcely work on the nerves with such a stinging effect. his felt esteem was vigilant. and the preciosity of the blended harmonies. unlike most contemporary composers.

others. illuminated opera-houses had no idea that the proud. the factory or the Not palace. brilliantly composer of their favourite operas was in their midst. When he did not spend his evenings working. or Vienna. and he utterly incomprehensible For all with a calm shake of the head. and in comparison with Or else he would sit in of Athens. in the tropics or on the shores of the Caspian Sea. one of his operas was being place where As a rule he search was never a long one. Paris. into the room as how fate had favoured him above many to create beautiful. lost in a cloud of cigarette-smoke. but magnificent feeling to voices of the singers who in his quiet room listening to the were at that moment performing his sit music in London. At such times as this he was fond of tuning in his wireless receiver with some and the performed. and made his heart The audiences seated in the overflow with gratitude and love. and winning affection everywhere. though he was not in the prove to be the music of But he did least anxious to live on into a future of this sort. that. this music. could listen to it only he did not consider it at all impossible that this might the future. enjoying And he would meditate their audibly expressed admiration. time he had received a card from his friend long before this . not allow the thought of it to depress him. increasing the world's treasury of speak happiness. to to innumerable hearts. with its nihilistic and solvent quality. had been a perfect School his arm-chair meditating. incessant applause that came flowing though in warm waves. It for they dominated the operatic stage. combined with strict form. he would in the highly un-Socratic pranks of the take occasionally Gianni Schicchi part Club that had recently been formed of his which the La Bohme Club friends. and noticing the hearty. forming an opinion on the artists or the conductor. observing how the orchestra sounded. could hear fragments of all his operas within the same hour. in that it was vouchsafed to him living works. whether in the drawing-room or the seamstress's workroom. gave him a queer.a 4o GIACOMO PUCCINI was one of disquieting strangeness. remained as to him as a Sanskrit poem.

in fact. had reached A back in three weeks' time. thorough examination. and was almost happy. and did not rest until the specialist insisted it with his sound. the Master paid a visit to a specialist in Florence. and requested him not to spare his When to give him an absolutely frank opinion. but this still The doctor advised him to come gave no cause for anxiety. he visited Florence simply must be sure what was the matter. he felt a sensitive spot upon lower down in the throat. describing how he the water the Laplanders singing tunes from had heard across La Boheme. and this 'luckless' man felt a deep But then again a inward tranquillity. In such moments as these a feeling of almost solemn peace came over him. a closer examination. The impatient Maestro was irritated by the slightest indisposition. about the size of a pin's head. but and Puccini expressed a wish for a the Puccini laryngoscope failed to reveal anything serious. but also made him profoundly uneasy. discovered there. and this not only irritated his nerves and made him find less pleasure in He felt that he life. Since his own doctor could find nothing. Puccini laryngitis was constantly suffering from sore throats and sudden fits of hoarseness. feelings. so in secret. bodily his vocal chords had proved to be harmless. tiny granulation was. which they now occurred made them a perfect torment to him. which had begun to make their appearance quite For the twenty years before. and from time to time he had had them removed by a caustic. and a moral. and consulted a professor of medicine. but forbade him to smoke. written 241 from the Polar regions. without attracting any particular attention But the frequency with from either himself or his doctors. and his offered a tough resistance to any strong constitution had always The little roughnesses that had appeared on ailments. shadow would fall upon his spirits as he asked himself: 'Shall I be able to finish Turandotr last few years the trouble caused by his chronic had increased to a really irksome extent.THE MASK OF SUFFERING Fraccaroli. but the unpleasant symptoms that had recently appeared were of a different char acter. even more than a physical one. from again .

The upshot was that an opera tion was judged to be urgently necessary. swelling a sigh that was more like a groan. for now hideous certainty and kept it to himself. to mitigate and alleviate the evil. sister. as far as possible. His father had to be lulled into security. The professor shattered all his hopes. might not still be some way of saving him. and whether the or a ignorance and clumsiness of the doctors were to blame. reply A sentence of death was passed upon his father. nigo Leroux's clinic. A consultation took place. he had to conceal it from everybody. whether the doctor might after all. All that could still be done. which it was almost beyond his powers to realize. He and asked him to tell hurried to Florence to see the home in a state him the truth. have been mistaken. was.242 WAUJMO he returned whom of utter depression. in Dr. was not taken into his confidence till later. and of a cure. however. where a special radium treatment had been It was fruitless to argue whether it ticular ailment. and leave the sick man in ignorance of his condition. he could say no being. Tonio's Moreover. for the the doctor had noted the presence of a swelling. for Puccini was suffering from an acute cancer of the throat. which had reached such an advanced stage that all attempts to treat it were useless. and whether there not. and must not betray himself. he kept wondering whether this fact. but Professor Graderecommended that it should take place at Brussels. and expressed For the time in character. was a piteous gesture. his mother paust not be allowed to suspect anything. or at least of some alleviation. and Tonio Puccini could bear this uncertainty no longer. in view of the pitilessly rapid progress of the malady. and even Donna Fosca Leonardi. The only reply is it?' asked Tonio Puccini anxiously. might have been possible to treat it with any prospect diagnose the complaint earlier. for successfully carried out for patients suffering Dr. which could not have been perceived earlier. pitiless destiny Tonio Puccini swallowed the it was all too late. was really true. hope that it was not malignant 'But what sort of a more. and once more hope revived. Leroux was a brilliant from this par ornament of his .

and promised to advance its cause by every means in his power. and from moreover. too. In spite of the in in his throat he felt as though he had a new creasing pangs lease of life. Puccini was over He was not used to hearing the great conductor. which were to take place as soon as possible. But Puccini. was usually reserved and distant. On the day before his departure he sent for Toscanini. who approached him with the deepest from this he was quiet and composed. however. misunder standings. Toscanini was quite fired with enthusiasm for the work. had no idea of this. and arranged with him everything pertaining to the rehearsal and production of the piece at the Scala. showed him the completed portions of Turandot. and uncommonly impressed by the music. speak in such exalted terms of anything. He looking up at those continued to avail himself of every free moment before his depar ture for his work. so that she did not of what was going on in the house. been estranged recently by certain he had. and made all arrangements in connexion with it. Haste was. the Master's attitude during these days was stoical and worthy of all admiration. whether owing to the irritation set up by his repeated examinations. essential Puccini himself was eager to start. and it almost seems as though he applied the enthusiastic verdict of little whom his best interpreter to his future physical progress as well. or as a result of the rapid Donna Elvira progress made by his treacherous complaint. Apart himself was under no misapprehension about his real condition. as . she had no idea that it was to be for ever. When her husband said good bye to her. and was said more than once to have cured cases that seemed desperate. and was only deceiving those around him. and was full of faith in his imminent recovery. was confined notice very left to much her bed by bronchitis. and particularly so because the pain had become extremely violent. If he dejection. which would necessi tate a few weeks' separation.THE MASK OF SUFFERING 243 profession. who joyed. Only in isolated hours of gloom did he begin to hesitate again. and was under the impression that what was in view was a cure undertaken as a precautionary measure.

and took care of him without allowing him to notice that the attentions they But gave him were such as are required by one seriously ill. Tonio Puccini drew him aside. travelled with his father. He arrived in Brussels weary and apathetic. as though his most intimate sensibilities were outraged by his malady. were also joined by the faithful Carlo Clausetti. who sat beside him with lacerated feelings. for fear of shaking his confidence suddenly a sense of hopeless gloom descended upon them all bleeding started from his nose and mouth. or starting the study of till he knew that it would be possible for it to be He therefore told Toscanini the grim truth. He was calm and cheerful as he stepped into the Tonio Puccini and they The Master he felt that the sheets of manuscript made him proof harm. On 4th November they started for Brussels. who was sick unto death.244 though it GIACOMO PUCCINI were a promising sign of his recovery. It . and had a suffering sense of physical shame. was neither anxiety nor physical pain that upset him to this extent. filled him with consternation. and made the whole of that long journey a misery to him. But as Toscanini left the Master. and he was sensitive to it a. but they assumed culty smiling faces train. whose face was now beaming with delight. endless. which finished. in the shape of thirty-six pages containing the draft version of the finale of Turandot^ which had still to be orchestrated. His travelling-companions had great diffi against in restraining their tears. for he did not wish to bear the responsibility of setting in motion the whole vast machinery of preliminary preparation. which cost him as much as it did his son and his friend. He was supported in all times of depression by a feeling that he could not be summoned hence before he had completed the work to which he had devoted himself so whole-heartedly. for all and disturbing his quietly mood. and of whose success he was at last convinced. but the fact of very being ill caused him moral as well. bore a talisman with him in his bag. the work. Yet who knows ? Perhaps he too was playing sanguine a part. He felt humiliated and unclean. so that it seemed for violent .

Leroux. the correctness of which could now no longer be doubted. painfully embarrassed at the thought that the servants might find his blood-stained handkerchiefs. while many evenings were spent at the cinema. and Puccini felt possible means. Tonio regard to his illness. kept by Dr.THE MASK OF SUFFERING constituting a blemish. for which he had always had a great taste. after which he examined under the microscope a piece of tissue taken from the lump in the sick man's larynx. Father and son were next accommodated in two in the Institut de la communi Couronne. show how far the swelling The effect produced was almost startling: the bleeding stopped. He was delighted at once more being allowed to light the cigarettes that were a necessity to him. whose bodies have never given them any trouble before like Johannes Brahms. for instance. and now felt a positive conviction that he would return . as German critics were never tired of He was in good pointing out. The alarming virulence with which the disease was gaining ground next prompted the doctor to try an experiment with the object of ascertaining whether it was still any use to have recourse to an operation. and draw conclusions with In order to set his mind at rest. and recovered former appetite. Leroux subjected the Master to a thorough examination. Clausetti remaining at the hotel. his He went out. and con firmed the Florentine doctor's diagnosis. lasting for an hour and a half. 245 Like so many thoroughly strong men. the local application of radium would might react to this external action. spirits. and during the next few days Puccini felt a sense of relief. washed the handkerchiefs in the bath. Dr. and smoked with the zest of a schoolboy secretly enjoying cigarette-ends that he has picked up. with whom he had so little in common in other ways he felt as though his malady had left brand of shame upon him. had his meals with Tonio and Clausetti at the hotel. which he tried to conceal by every They went first to a hotel. where they reminded him in the most heart-rending way of Mimi coughing blood in the last act of La Boheme^ and now became symbolic in his eyes a of another last cating rooms act.

246
to Viareggio

GIACOMO PUCCINI
and resume
his

work.

Only

at

the Sanatorium

have moments of gloom, during which he would take his poor pages of manuscript out of his portfolio, gaze at them with a sigh,, making the gesture of resignation with which, at those times when he felt a sense of his defencelessness, he
did he
still

to fate. signified his submission

When

upon, operation at least a prospect of preserving this precious life for a few the Master's physical suffering; years longer, and of mitigating whereas without it a painful death was certain, and that before
very long.

the radium cure had gone on for twelve days, an for it offered, if not a guarantee, was decided

Puccini had long since
their consent,

The

family gave

made up his mind to it. and on 24th November the sur

geons set to work.

On

the night before the operation Puccini

and peacefully than he had done slept for ten hours, more softly In the morning he was given an injection of for months past.
morphia in order to minimize the pain and put him at least into a somnolent state. They could not venture upon com of his weak heart, but only upon a plete anaesthesia, on account He had to be local anaesthetic, in so far as this was possible. a half on end endured the bound, and for three hours and

upon him with heroic composure, experiencing own person the torture-scene from Tosca. He still sum moned up enough energy, however, to rise from the stretcher
torture inflicted
in his

and put himself

to

bed without

assistance.

Tonio, with Clausetti and his sister Fosca, who had just arrived, spent what seemed an eternity in the corridor waiting
for the operation to be over, and could with difficulty restrain a cry, for Puccini was as white as chalk, and his throat reminded

them of
in
it

St. Sebastian, with the seven radium needles inserted instead of arrows, while above the Adam's apple was a silver tube, through which his breath whistled as he drew it in and

out.

The next two days were a perfect martyrdom. He could take nothing to sustain his strength but liquid nourish ment and champagne, administered through the nose. He was
not allowed to speak, but had to write

down

all

that he wanted.

THE MASK OF SUFFERING
On
the very
first

247

He was the third day the miracle had been effected. walk about was abating, he could get up, stronger, the fever
By
his

Elvira, perhaps

sheet of paper was written a greeting to the last she ever received from him.

Donna

room and read

the papers, and declined

all

assistance.

The

doctor was delighted, and held out prospects of complete He could now hand over the syringe for administer recovery. nourishment to Tonio Puccini, and was no longer required ing himself; but the radium treatment had to be continued for another five or six days, after which they might perhaps think Fosca and Tonio were radiant of returning home quite soon. with joy, and telegraphed to their mother that she might now

come
a

Giuseppe

to Brussels too, while Clausetti wrote a jubilant letter to Adami, that ran as follows: 'Things are going on in

way that exceeds all our hopes. The doctors now say without the
quite definitely be saved.

They could
will

not be better.

least hesitation that

Puccini

will

You

understand that no

doctor would speak in this way unless he were absolutely certain that he was not in error. Moreover, Dr. Leroux is by no means inclined towards optimism, being rather a severe and

There had been no complications of any reserved person*. the lungs and sort, the heart was in perfectly good order, bronchial tubes were working absolutely normally, and the Had it miracle was to be ascribed to the effects of radium.
not been for the splendid Brussels doctors, their famous, but been left with no hope of recovery. suffering friend would have

Great was their jubilation.

But their joy was premature. On the evening of this day which had seemed so full of promise, the catastrophic occurred. The Master collapsed while sitting in his arm-chair. Dr. Leroux at once removed the radium needles in order to relieve But it was too late. the furious throbbing of his heart.
Carlo Clausetti described these
last

hours to

me

with as

much

emotion as though he had gone through them only a day before, When he came to visit the sick man instead of seven years.
in the evening, the doctor

drew him out of the room and

told

H8
him
that there

GIACOMO PUCCINI

was no hope, for heart failure had ensued. Nobody could have foreseen that the healing radium, which had given undoubted relief to the malady itself, would so
have proved dangerous to the
spent a restless night. could be read in his eyes.
incessantly on his bed,
as

'suddenly The patient had organ. His consciousness of the inevitable
vital

His breath came
lost patience

in

and

when

gasps he tossed his anxious son
;

refused to go to bed: while his hands were constantly moving, though beating something. The end was at hand. Early on the morning of 2 9th November

Monsignor Micara,

the papal nuncio, arrived at the Master's bedside, accompanied by the Italian ambassador, on the pretext of visiting the sick, and the priest pronounced the last benediction, after which the

death-agony began. Donna Fosca Leonardi has described to me how her father lay there quietly, with eyes that no longer noticed material

any

things, and a perfectly tranquil, peaceful expression. raised his hand as though to salute his son and

Once he

daughter, after

which
to be

his fingers ran over the coverlet, as

though they were

playing chords and melodies, while his half-closed lips seemed humming an accompaniment. There can be no doubt

that, even as his consciousness was ebbing away, he was thinking of Turandot, and that his music was still hovering round him

procession at his profuneral in Torre del It was as Lago. though one great wail of lamentation went from the whole of up
visiorial

when, after he had drawn two deep, peaceful breaths, his pale, handsome head fell on its side. Giacomo Puccini was no more. His death was felt as a national disaster. The newspapers appeared with black edges, and for days on end were full of reminiscences of the Master, accounts of his life, and estimates of his work, in which even his opponents lowered their blades and muffled them in His body was crape. It brought home. was received at station with solemn tokens of every respect, and the greatest in the land followed the

few months later Giacomo Puccini the spot which had been dearest to him

A

Italy.

came home to upon earth and where
really

a

o S w

THE MASK OF SUFFERING
de Carolis, Antonio Maraini, and Professor

249

Between the Master's study and his he had known happiness. bedroom is a space that was now arranged as a chapel. Adolfo
Pilotti

painter,

all worked architect, and sculptor together to carry out the idea conceived by Puccini's bereaved son. Through a roundwindow the sunshine falls upon the floor, topped stained-glass inlaid with marble slabs, and on the fresh flowers arranged round it. On the left-hand side is a broad ledge of greyishwhite marble, supported on a bracket, upon which the com Over it hangs an carved in heavy lettering. poser's name is enormous crucifix of gleaming white stone, and in the wall behind it is a small arched recess in which stand the two coffins. Here rests Giaccfmo Puccini, close to the little old piano from which he charmed all his harmonies, and whose strings vibrated

with strains that spoke only of love. By his side, since the lain Elvira, his life's companion, who summer of 1930, has* followed him to the grave at the age of "seventy, six years after
his death.

But another mausoleum a spiritual one has been raised in his honour by the filial piety of his son in the villa* at Torre del Lago, in the shape of a little museum and a collection of archives, both of which are set out in Puccini's study, where Everything is still nothing has been altered since he left it. in the same place as it was then, and it is as though the lying Master had only gone out of the room a moment or two ago, on his writing-table. In the leaving his cigarette-end lying cases are manuscripts and photographs, and among them glass
be seen the letter written by Ponchielli to Mamma Albina', telling her that Giacomo was his best pupil, and that he simply must have another year's study lines evidently The com intended for the eye of the munificent great-uncle.
*

is

still

to

drafts of all Puccini's operas are preserved here, with bundles of newspaper cuttings, containing a whole together arsenal of malevolent stupidity, narrow conceit, and impudent or friendly presumption, with but little kindness, good will, Besides all this there is another curious thing, in sympathy.

plete

rough

he was independent and spent his life exactly What can have been the cause of the melancholy as he desired. his rise was phenomenally rapid While still quite a young composer he had the most splendid He won fame at an early age. opponents. second time. apart from those little annoyances that every man has to endure. that made his life. too. in or himself to open this little case. and loved them all. both artist who ought all his critics and and unobstructed. a hard one a melancholy for which his spasmodic fits of gaiety and love of fun were no real compensation ? In many ways his Did he only play with his melan life was indeed a failure. and gramophone records on which gossiping But Tonio Puccini cannot yet bring his voice is preserved. really had no cause to bewail his fate. who was . Eighteen choly. and afterwards showered boundless wealth upon his house. He had both wife and children. that its quote it here because it is almost inconceivable author should have been the same Giacomo Puccini We the object of unbounded love and admiration.250 GIACOMO PUCCINI upon which the Master has been ^ the shape of rolls of films. or to hear his voice coming forth from the unseen world. who guaranteed him security of existence from the very beginning. and that in it he has been. and who. and everybody will understand But it is a strange reflection that his this and feelings: respect in this little case a part of Giacomo Puccini's life is still pre immured for the served. conversation. as it were. and am it strangely moved by many man and them both. He could not bear to see his father living again in pictures only. sitting photographed walking. and especially those who lead a public life. gesticulating with his friends. or did he really feel it to be insuperable ? months before his death he wrote a poem which was found among his papers. to How can have been that a have been the happiest of all men should have been consumed during his whole life with melan in his life and in his art ? choly and a sense of inadequacy. In spite of of publishers at his side. and often that of those about him too. I look back over his things in life and work.

. Life descends towards the abyss. Vita di Giacomo Puccini. I feel myself to be alone. Chi vive giovane gode il mondo. The full text of these verses is taken from Arnaldo Fraccaroli. Quando la morte verra a trovarmi sard felice di riposarmi. solo. Even music me. richly upon him friendship.) If life really appeared to him in this light. and the eye scans They are ephemeral things. 1 (I have not a friend. p. who lives worth. : va verso se il baratro. . I Ah. ? Passano e resta ben poca cosa. fame. But who is aware of all this ? Youth passes swiftly by. Son cose effimere la vita corre. how hard But my life! And yet to many seem happy. and the love of beautiful women must have been valueless in his eyes. if it really caused him nothing but sadness. eternity with a questioning gaze. he was to be for if this were so. . while even his art. la nmsica mi fa. ma chi s'accorge di tutto questo ? Passa veloce la giovinezza e Pocchio scruta Peternita. pass. Oh com' e dura la vita mia! eppur a molti sembro felice! Ma i miei successi .THE MASK OF SUFFERING Non ho un mi sento anche triste 251 amico. I shall makes me happy When death shall come is to seek be to find rest. is my successes? They and what remains of little hastens past and He and is young enjoys the pleasure of the world. 223. sad. then all that life lavished so pitied. cannot have brought 1 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.

easily flying from one extreme to another. quoted above. what has won such answer the last riddle of Turandot. that it is drawn towards all that is blooming ardently sensuous and athirst for affection life. it is the merits. so that he had to leave the word And for this reason a long career Or did Giacomo Puccini fail feeling that throbs in them. he was a musician. to supreme But reply. The very fact that Puccini's eye does not 'scan eternity with a questioning gaze' but looks upon the earth as well. His character was undoubtedly such as his music reveals him to us. this is an idle question. and at the same time its vitality. People of mobile character. and therefore expressed his true nature in his music only. loving. men awaits them. the little ones in which really we rejoice. such as he was. he would certainly have written his own libretti too. to which the grave can unspoken? make no . often in perpetuate words some hour of bitterness and solitude in a way that such a Moreover. No. and a palliative for all th< sorrows of existence. a refuge within himself. not Such verses as those aspect always. which he jotted down. ought not to be taken as a key to his nature.252 GIACOMO PUCCINI him release. this confession of the intimate secrets of the heart. and would not have had operatic to endure incessant annoyance from his collaborators. But he certainly did not see it undei this or at least. things' that are able to enchant us. ravish. still both for himself and for his music. and in this sincerity lies its secret. and was he therefore bound to depart from life before she had surrendered herself to him fully? Was he forced to remain the unknown prince from the realms of music. had he been able to express himself in really words. momentary mood hardly Perhaps us. lie their magic spell and the warrant of their survival. and metamorphose but it is 'little only The great ones elevate. in which love him in another In this wealth of human guise. who was no longer able to force a real confession of love from her. is young.

use of. 216 D'Andrade. 3 Dance rhythms. Filippi. Madame. 37. 102. Franco. 188 2 53 . use of. 141. 126. 193 Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni). use of. 239 De Marchi (tenor). 165. 178. use of. use of. Elvira Boston. use of. Eugen. 249 Caruso. Alphonse. 141. 84. 153. 46 Chicago. 167 Civinini. 234 Chorus. Sarah. 175. Emmy. 144. 154 Bersezio. 171. 75-7. 67 D'Annunzio. 235. 136. 56. use of. 246. Queen. 129. 104. 146. Tristan. Enrico. 145 n. 49. 14. Franco. 49. 123. Adolfo de. 50. 137. Arnaldo. 76. 170. 31. 51. Francesco. 195 Chinese music. 96. 232 Berlioz. Carlo. 142. 115. 232. 36. 34. 61. 43. 158. Giuseppe. 137 Carltheater. Gabriele. 198. 67. 208 Darcle"e. 45. 229. Dr. 189. 123 Destinn. Alfred. 153. Burgmein. 147. use of. 239 Exoticism. 82-5. Mass. 167 Boheme : see La Boheme Boheme. David. 165 Cornet. 107. 232. 167 Depanis. 121 Cymbals. 195 Brass instruments. 212 Debussy. 126 Daudet. 115 Ferrani. 48 Farrar. 55. 235 Faccio. 158. 142. 48. 57. 87. 48. 241 Chromatic effects. 218 Cilea. 69 n. 236 Clausetti. 204 Die sistersinger von Nurnberg (Wagner). 81. 232 Boito. 33. 158.. use of. ri2. Carlo. 69 Battistini. 105. 80 Celesta. 43 Alfano. use of. Cleofonte. 53. 236. 227 Epistolario. 183 Bruneau. 82. 96. 150.. 73. 88 Bernard. Claude. 48 Flute. 238. Filippo. 51. 183 Capriccio sinfonico. 38. Guelfo. 202. 183. Vita di (Leoncavallo). Giovacchino. 141. 202. Scenes de la Vie de (Murger). 151 Bizet. 131 : 49. 201 Church music. Giuseppe. 211. 228 Bernhardt. 127 Brussels. use oi. 193 see Madama Butterfly Edgar. 203. 184. 234 Campanini. 103. 209. 161 Brescia. 60. 164. treatment of. Daudet. 150 Berta (critic). 34. 210 Carolis. 50. 184 Fontana. 20. Madame. 208. 105. Avanti / 96 84 Bayreuth. use of. 150 Fife. 38. 193 Dialogue. 209 Bells. I47> l6 3 190. 175. Antonio. 83. 128 n. 201. 152. 43. 137. 200. 229. 130 Boheme. Georges. 202. 85 n. 142 Cremonini (tenor). 98 Bonturi. 12 n. 142 *88. 42 Belasco. 244. 135. 138. 19. 233 5^. 59. Ferdinando. 51. 116. 235 Ceit. 102. Mattia. Geraldine. 140. 103. 213 Fraccaroli. Elvira see Puccini. 104. 190. 147. 164. 188. 244 M Buenos Aires. 29. 175. musical. 126 Drums. 32. Francesco. 143 Consecutive fifths. 55 Clarinet. 49. 148. 18. 208 Folk music. 245. 142. 237* 247 Aida (Verdi). 34. use of. Vienna. 198. Lon. 209. 6 7 73 Forzano.INDEX AD AMI. 94 Bazzini. 84. 79. 242. 176. 232 D'Albert. 74 Butterfly : 85. 19. 193 Elena. 142. Arrigo. 247 Concerted numbers. 163. 154. 101. Hector. 87. 60.

130 Melody. 113. 87. La Rondine. 191 Koto. 128. 17. 152. 152. Queen. 7. 148. 29 149. 43. 96 Institut de la Couronne. 129. 36. Princess. 37. 45. 87. 40-41. 2. 26. 30. 71. Giuseppe. 3. Alfred. 146. 78. 188. 190 Japanese music. 144. 130 Gorki. 129. 178. Edoardo. 82. 2. 190 Horns. use of. 181 Mascherom. 195. Antonio. 75. Pietro. 187. 45. 46. 233 247. 133. 154 Gianni Schicchi. 148. 44 Giacomo Puccini iniimo. 204. 219. 80. Lake of. 137. 155 Fugato passages. no. 233 I Crisantemi. 189. 28. 144. 103. 43. Gello di Pascaglia. 71. 145. 207. 130. Contessa Blandine. Gong. use of. 123. 2l6 Harps. 155. 155. 100-8. use of. 191. 187. 166. 133 Lakmtt (Delibes). use of. 19. 188. 122. 210 Kerr. 36 Massaciuccoli. 208 La Tosca. 98. 62. 75. 92. 242. 146. 147. 132. 186. 3. 61. Luigi. 210 Ghislanzoni. Ada. Pierre. 184. play. 142 Marchetti. 186. 232. 191 Giachetti. 131. 71. 96 Manon (Massenet). 98. 124 Manon Zescaut. 245.. 157. 148. 249 Marches. 65.. 207 Massenet. 5. E. 114 Manon. 55. 22. 6. 137 Humming. 195. 44 n in Heptatonic scales. Carlo. 190 Jeritza. 15 220 209. 129. 191 Giacosa. Gustav. 73. 10. 69 n 68. ir8.254 GIACOMO PUCCINI 149. 242 Le Villi. 149. 182. 17. 75. Didier. 248 Gorga (tenor). 61. Girl of the Golden West : see La Fanciulla 159. Antonio. 19. 92. 130. . 154. 98. 198-204. 4. 165. 102. 208 Mafalda. 134. 2. 192 New York. Pauline. 188. 20. 142. 190. no. 130. 62. 163. 136. 203. 197. 232. Salomea. 152 Mass in A flat. 161. 10. 246. 55. 177. 154. 43. 81. 188. Madama I 54 T 75> Butterfly. 22. 178. Fortunato. 115. 8. 228 Magi. 143. 121. use of. 35 n. 186 216 La Boheme Club. 208 II Tabarro. 130 Japanese flute. 79 Metropolitan Opera-house. i. 90. 138. 130. Filippo. 96. 87. 106. 10. 183 Mascagni. 19. 181. 237 Inno a Roma. 218. 224 Iteration. 118. 42. 73. Alberto. 36. Portrait de (Massenet). 196. 232 Gold. 2. 207. W. 41. 184. 139. 32 Mahler. 146. 133 La Fanciulla del West. use of. Maurice. Dr. 135-45. Franchetti. i. 196. 130. 227. 167 Margherita. 178. 164. 7. Donna Fosca. 233 Louys. 66. 198. 115. 190 Krucenisca.. 129. 235 Maraini. 229 Le Sacre du Pnntemps (Stravinsky) 238 Gradenigo. 222. Ruggiero. Brussels. 97. 153. 13. 151. 22. 218 Gianni Schicchi Club. J. 235 Menasci. Japanese. 56-61. 202. 57 L'Africaine (Meyerbeer). Lehar. 99. 187. 178. 130. 209 Leroux. 210-11 151. 162. 49. Guido. 56. 202. 124. 154. *54 *55 l68 2o8 2 9> 237 Harmonic > > idiosyncrasies. 59. 58. 67. 104. 37. 152 La Gioconda (Ponchielli). 163. 105. 178/180. 202. Jules. 233 t Intermezzo. 209 Leonardi-Puccini. Maxim. Guido. 79. 96 Ulica. 83. 99. La Boh&me. 193 Instrumentation. 105. 112. 200. 137. 19. 126. 75. I. 228. 154. 165. 63. 15 Korngold. 2. 127 Lucca. 136. 128 Libretti. use of. 109. 128. 30. 167. Lotte. 209. 53. del West 216. 163. 65. 21. 87. 26 Korngold. 198. Professor. 84. Lebmann. 99. 189. 46 Marotti. 22. 240 Leitmotiv. 163. 30. 81. Maria. 147. 186- 209. 30. 202> 239 Maeterlinck. 184. 85. 193. 165. 150 Leoncavallo. 195 Gravina. 68. 106. 214-17. 190. 44. 75. 201. 178. 13. 247 Gozzi. 2. Franz. 236 Malinconia. Gramola (critic). Lucca. character of Puccini's. 38. 186. 245 189.

. 143. 174. . 51. 46. as public speaker. 150. 34. by Wagner. 43. 16. 227. mortuary chapel. 168. royal family. 252. 92. 37. health. 143. 88-91. 223. 240 As musician : early compositions: motet. 69. 112. 99 Orchestration. 148. Abbe*. 51. 174. Quintero. 47. Giovanni. 172. 38. 198. Giacomo. 177. family history. 171. 190. 44. 241-2. 13. Nikisch. 232 Pfitzner. 130. Dame strings. 158. Domenico (grandfather). early privations. Capnccio sinfomco.. 29 Projected comic operas: Tristan Ber Puccini. 194. 124. 190. 22. Notre Red Indian music. Elvira (wife). 59. 94. Marie 165 Antoinette. 1 88. 142. Antonio (great-grandfather). 202 : of. 28. Antonio (son) alegre). Torre del Lago. 138. 103. human sympathy in his music. 225. 38. 55> 67. 151. 25. relations singers. 189. marriage. 23-25. 183 Paris.. X 73 176. on Wagner. Mussolini. 33 Palermo. 32. 166 Murger. last illness. 152 Pallavicini. 114. 161 seq. 147. 208. 42 seq.. 125 Puccini. 242. Florentine Tragedy. 208. 153. 49.grand Praga. 119. 239. musical education. 234 New York. 150 Pedal point. 50. 50. 103. 245-8. 98. 38. 12. 142.INDEX Meyerbeer. 1 1 8. 116. 193 Pasini. mista. 38 Panichelli.. 17. 141 seq. 136 seq. use 184. use 220-2. 100 father). 69. 127.great . 138. 98 Piccolo. 117. Benito.. Michele (father). Marco. 42. mechanical tastes. 154 nard's negro subject. 82 m. and Nature. orders and honours. 247. 142 Pilotti. 195. 215. by Mascagni. 46. 232. 125 Children's Puccini Museum. 129. 14. 126. L'Alchi. 226. 9. use of.. 220. 16. politics. 154. 6. 224. 154. 153. 225. 126. 86. 39. as pianist. 118. 68. 189. PelUas et Mehsande.. and S. 185. Tonio see Puccini. 211-12. 32 Paghaw (Leoncavallo). 150 'Mosaic' of themes. Mass. 132-3. influenced by Bizet. Alvarez. 233 Pentatonic scale. appearance and per sonality. 97. 239. relations with Naples. 26. 28 seq. 42. 147. 21 . 157. Antonio (son). with . 32. 5. Countess. 208. 190 Moro (baritone). 92. 29 Puccini. use of. 47. La Lupa. no. 225. 181 Milan Conservator!. 69. n. 10. 78. 184. 174. 84. 224. Alfred de. 192. 225 Paladini. Domenico. 63 Modes. 143. property. 249 crusade. on own works. women. Professor. 18. 250. 53. as poet. 191 n Milan. by Debussy. as 249 Pizzicato strings. 126 Puccini. 233. 130. 116. 208 209. 201. 37. 113 Pagni. 114. 19. 35 seq. by Verdi. 203. Carlo. 46. . 30 Puccini. 71. Romelde (sister). 94. 249 Puccini. 218 Projected operas: Anima allegra (Gemo Puccini. 38 seq. 234 Organ.. 34. 180. 189.2oS Buddha. 13. 171. as contro versialist. 73 National and folk music. 201. 154 Musset. 88. 227. 78 Tarascon. in. 249. 48 seq. 170 Parsifal (Wagner). Michele (brother). 226. 73. humour. 105. La Faute de VAUbe Mouret. 153. 246. 195. J. by Stravinsky. shyness. 234 Percussion instruments. 69. 250 Puccini. 21. 8. 239 Puccini. Artur. 130. script. 122. 224 Mugnone. 249 Puccini. Madame. Hans. 30. 188. 98. 140. 182 organist. 152. 21 Muted de Paris. 87. 115 Oliva. 171. 38. 128. Conchita (La Femme et U Pantiri). 218. 249 Pozza. 31. 173.. Giovanni. 4. 49. 145-6. 244. use of. 202. 83. Dante trilogy. 19. 107. 35. Henri. Ferruccio. 88-91. Don Pietro. sport. 141. 99 Prevost. 125. 41. 229. 200. death and burial 119. 19.Recitative. Molly. Giacomo (great . 63 seq. repu tation in Germany. 14. 228. 243. 235 Ponchielli. charity. 245. Amilcare. 153. 193. melancholy. 41. wireless. 194 of. 227. 29 Pacini Institute of Music. Leopoldo. 91-95. 114. 14. 147 Fosca Puccini. treatment of. as linguist. Giacomo. Tartarin de Puccini. 29. ii seq. use of. 163. travel. Fosca: see Leonardi-Puccini. Albina (mother). cruelty. 250. 218 Pacini. 248-9.

87. 220 Teatro dal Verme. Giovanni. 135. 67. Matilda. 105. So. 166. Arturo. 167. Victorien. Tito. 12. 34. 61. von. 162. 44. 193 Scozza elettrice. 3. 93. 163. 209. 43. Reznicek. 2. 9. 43. 81. 142. 146. 18. 153 Teatro della Scala see Scala Opera-house Teatro Grande. 195. 155. 37. 85 MPLE PR6SS . 158-63. 115 Schiller. 165. 127 Verdi. 165. Rhythmical variations. musical. 149. 178. 210 Villani. 15. 59 Rome. 61. 149. 193. ]. 145. 79. 126 Zuelli. 224 Syncopation. 144. 69. 183. 118. 34. 84. 191 Torre del Lago. Max von. 156. music. 78. Thematic development. 99. Giuseppe. 121. 248. 154. 51. Johann. A. 63. 243. 220 Tosca. 178. 13. Rosina. 10. Oscar. 196. 59. 200. 95 14. 235 Toscanini. 202. 147. 114. 102. 119. 213 Wolf-Ferrari. use of. 147. 15. 34. 149. Rome. 206. Richard. II Tristan und Isolde (Wagner). 217. 217. use of. 10. 235 Suor Angelica. 168. 227 Sardou. Ermanno. 233 Scala opera-house. Renato. 249 101. 2. C. 121. 73. 165. 236 Triptych. 113-17. 55. Arnold. 228. German. 36. Frau Cosima. 238. 211.ercHwoRTH CRCAT BRITAIN .224 i. 223 Sada Yacco. 78. 203 109. 234 Ricordi (firm). 157. fimile. 203. Richard. 176 San Rossore. 154. 103. 213 seq. Emil N. 19. 3. 83. 151 Viola-Marina. 243 Schalk. 207. 208 Zemlinsky. 53. Whole-tone scale. 127. Turin. 239 Strings. 138. Brescia. 180. 174 Zenatello. 182 Strauss. 209 Simoni. 211. 174 Willis. 139. 142. 230-31. 199. 212 Storchio.. Ernst von. 152. 232. Zangarini.GIACOMO PUCCINI Reichert (librettist). 183 Zola. 67. 10. 87. 178. 53 n Willner (librettist). 153. Guglielmo. use of. use of. 85* 154 Verga. 187. i. 137. 83. 125. use 187. 210 Romanticism. 239 Stravinsky. Maurice. in Vaucaire. 232-35 Vacallo. Franz. 195. 244.. Giovanni. 128 Viareggio. 126. 189 94. 33 Strauss. Trumpets. 17. 229 Schillings. 93. II. 22. 10. 181. 19. 148 Turin. use of. 17. 29. use of. 2. 3. 10. 219 Symphonic passages. 130. 61. Giulio. Luigi Alberto. 229 Sonzogno (firm). 69. 229. 138. 114. 38 Violoncello. 164. 3 . Milan. i. 101. F 178. 204 of. 20. *47> I 55> *57> 163. 49. 43. 14. 156. 2. 220. Milan. 202 Serao. 152 Turandot. 3 Wood-wind. 48. 147 Wagner. 236. 206 Vienna. The : see Tnttico. Wagner. 185. 96 Secondary chords. 161. 30. 232 Theatricality. 150 Scotti. 105. 74-75. 161. 230. 233 Schonberg. 136. 71. 239 Schnch. 37. Antonio. 178. Marchesa. 170. 195. 195. 125 Tnttico. 233. 24. 20. Carlo. 186. Igor. 177. 149 : Xylophone. 143 Wilde. use of. 22. 131. use of. 21. 179. 153 Ricordi. 143. 157 Saxophone. 235 Teatro Costanzi. 207 Ricordi. 37. 213 Reminiscence. libretto. 49. use of. 37. 183 Teatro Regio. 162. in.

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