Drama and Acting in Puccini's Italy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores Puccini’s relationship with the Italian spoken theatre of his time. Stage plays were often adapted as operas during this period and there are plentiful examples in Puccini’s oeuvre. Puccini preferred to adapt foreign plays, rather than Italian ones (even sometimes, as in the case of Madama Butterfly, selecting a subject whose original text was in a language he did not understand), and he ranged across a wide variety of different theatrical genres. The chapter considers developments in Italian theatre during the nineteenth century, and the emergence of key native playwrights, as well as the national penchant for foreign works in translation, such as the plays of Shakespeare. The author examines changes in acting technique that took place in Italy and more broadly during this period and considers the careers of leading actors of the time such as Eleonora Duse. Puccini’s choice of dramatic subjects – the sorts of themes that attracted him and stimulated his musical imagination – is discussed in detail, as is the range of dramatic devices that he borrowed from a variety of different theatrical traditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPuccini in Context
EditorsAlexandra Wilson
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108891028, 9781108880732
ISBN (Print)9781108835589
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Publication series

NameComposers in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press


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