Michele and his wife Albina had seven daughters and one son: Giacomo. There was, of course, a public expectation in Lucca that little Giacomo would grow up to take on his father’s responsibilities and continue the family line. With the support of patrons, he made his way to the Conservatory in Milan, but although he returned to Lucca for a time and composed his early operas there, he never took on the inherited position.
However, although he left the family tradition behind, Puccini carried his musical lineage with him throughout his life. His full name is a collection of the names of his ancestors: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini.
In the early 1830s, Henri Murger created a series of magazine sketches about the bohemian lifestyle, which he eventually adapted into a novel, Scenes de la Vie de Bohème (1848). Puccini used Murger’s stories as the inspiration for his La Bohème. Murger, in fact, lived the bohemian life in his youth and many of the historical details in his work were based on his experiences. Murger was part of a group of young bohemians who lived in extreme poverty and were called “Water-Drinkers,” because they could not afford anything stronger. Murger lived in a small attic apartment in his early years as an artist and believed in the theory, “Art before life.”
Perhaps the most important way that Ricordi supported Puccini’s career was how he marketed Puccini’s scores to opera houses. Ricordi created a system in which opera house managers who wanted to purchase the rights to one of Verdi’s incredibly popular operas also had to purchase the rights to an opera by one of Ricordi's less-famous personal favorites -- Puccini chief among them. This two-for-one deal ensured that Puccini’s operas were exposed to a wide audience very quickly.
Bohemian culture was said to be “a man’s world.” In its art and literature, women often do not exist, or are suspiciously absent beyond their relations to men. The role of the woman in this culture was to provide men with pleasure and creative inspiration. Women were often categorized as either grisettes, working-class women and housekeepers – or lorettes, beautiful in appearance, but incapable of working “real” jobs. Instead, lorettes acted as, for example, models – one of the lowest occupations in the 18th and 19th centuries for women. Characters such as Fantine in Les Misérables and Mimì in La Bohème are considered grisettes.
These fun facts were collected in collaborations with students at Emerson College, Shani Brown, Emily Duggan, and Joshua Platt.
Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1850-1930, by Jerrold Seigel. Penguin Books, 1987.
Book of Musical Anecdotes, The, by Norman Lebrecht. The Free Press. NY, NY, 1985.
First Bohemian, The: The Life of Henry Murger, by Robert Baldick. Hamish Hamilton, 1961.
Giacomo Puccini: La Bohéme, by Arthur Groos & Roger Parker. Cambridge Opera Handbooks. Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1986.
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The, ed. by Stanley Sadie & John Tyrrell. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, 2004. Entry: ”Puccini, Giacomo,” by Michele Girardi.
Operas of Puccini, The, by William Ashbrook. Cornell University Press, 1968.
Paris: The Secret History, by Andrew Hussey. Bloomsbury, 2006.
Physiologie de la Lorette, by Maurice Alhoy. Ligarian, 2014.
Puccini Companion, The, ed. by Simonetta Puccini & Simon Weaver. W.W. Norton & Co., 1994. Entry: “The Puccini Family,” by S. Puccini.
Puccini: His Life and Works, by Julian Budden Puccini. Oxford University Press, 2002.
Renting a Queer Space: The Commodification of Queerness in Jonathan Larson's "Rent," by Helen Deborah Lewis. ProQuest Information and Learning Company, 2007.
Skeletons from the Opera Closet, by David L. Groover & C.C. Connor. Moyer Bell, 1986.