View of soprano Leontyne Price in Puccini’s opera, “Tosca.” Stamped on back: “NBC photo.” Handwritten on back: “Miss Price in Act II.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
Honest Italian Opera Titles

La Bohème: I Have Tuberculosis But Can Somehow Sing Anyway

Tosca: Overly Attached Girlfriend

Madama Butterfly: Puccini Really Liked To Kill Off His Sopranos

Turandot: Puccini’s Apology To Sopranos (And Women In General)

Aida: You Only Realize You Love Him Right Before You Die

Otello: The Sexist And Racist Double Whammy

Rigoletto: The Original Overprotective Dad



Good afternoon, everyone! Continuing with our week long celebration of Puccini’s music, I’ll be sharing this popular excerpt that comes from the end of the second act of Madame Butterfly. Since its premiere, Madame Butterfly has been successful and made its way into the standard opera repertoire. The story is based on a short story of the same name by John Luther King, which in tern is based on stories he heard from his sister about an American soldier who impregnated a Japanese lover, promised he would return to her, and instead, abandons her and the child. While Puccini’s musical language is richly part of the Romantic tradition, his source material is more Modernist, focusing on “real” lives of “real” people, instead of overblown figures of legend. Stories that are more relatable on the human level, on the profane level that before were too taboo to write about. Here is the Coro a bocca chiusa, a wordless choir that hums off stage while Butterfly and her daughter Suzuki wait for her lover Pinkerton to return.

Stay tuned this week for more music and discussion on Puccini! - Nick Olinger


The Te Deum from Puccini’s Tosca as sung by Sir Bryn Terfel.

I don’t normally care for Puccini, but this aria is absolutely breathtaking. If you listen to it, turn it up LOUD.

Puccini: Tosca - Act 3: E Lucevan Le Stelle
  • Puccini: Tosca - Act 3: E Lucevan Le Stelle
  • Plácido Domingo

O! dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d'amore.
L'ora è fuggita, e muoio disperato!
E muoio disperato!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita,
tanto la vita!

Oh, sweet kisses and languorous caresses,
While feverishly I stripped the beautiful form of its veils!
Forever, my dream of love has vanished.
That moment has fled, and I die in desperation!
And I die in desperation!
And I never before loved life so much,
Loved life so much!