Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) was the leading composer of Italian opera in the generation after Verdi. He is responsible for some of the most popular operas of all time including La bohèmeToscaMadama Butterfly and Turandot. Puccini knew how to write and develop a well-crafted melody and he utilised harmony and orchestration to highly individual and colouristic effects. An avid smoker, he died of throat cancer. Interestingly, the statue erected outside his birth house in Lucca shows the composer holding a cigarette. The statue raised in his honour outside the house where he spent much of his life (and where he is buried) in Torre del Lago Puccini goes one further: he actually has a cigarette in his mouth.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra