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Puccini’s Chronicles: Prologue

by Amanda DeLalla (Moderator)

Picture it- Venice, Italy, 1903. Established opera composer Giacomo Puccini is on the cusp of completing what many consider to be his greatest work- Madama Butterfly. He was sitting at a piano, trying to complete the third act, writing furiously late into the summer night with sweat pouring down his brow.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door.

Startled and exasperated, the maestro threw down his composing materials and whipped out a cigarette to calm his nerves. As he lit it, he exclaimed, “Chi e?!”

The door hesitatingly opened to reveal his beautiful Irish maidservant, Isobel Geraghty, illuminated in the doorway by the light of the full moon. Just like Mimi from my piece about the bohemians, thought the maestro. “Well don’t just stand there,” he told her, “I’m very occupied.”

“Mi dispiace, signor,” Isobel said in the best Italian she could muster. “Normally you know I would never interrupt your work, but…this letter has just been delivered from your son.”

“At this hour?” Puccini inquired.

“Si,” answered Isobel. “Therefore it must be very important, and so I am giving it to you before morning.” She began coughing on the smoke emanating from the maestro’s cigarette.

“Please sit down, Isobel. You were wise in your discretion. Come, we’ll read the letter together and see what trouble he’s in THIS time…”

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