Of all my passions -- and I have many -- opera tops them all. Movies, books, writing, film scores, Combat!, etc. They all pale next to my love for opera. Specifically, Italian opera, and of my favorite Italian composers, Puccini takes the prize. I love Verdi almost as much -- it's nearly a tie half the time-- but Puccini still comes out on top.
So, it's probably rather surprising that I know next to nothing about him other than which operas he wrote in what order, and when he lived. This surprises me even more, because my sister and I spend hours and hours dissecting his operas, and as a writer, I'm particularly fascinated by his "narrative kinks." The things that push his buttons and he brings in over and over. Because, of course, a lot of them are my own. Well, duh. They would be. His operas have always been the biggest inspiration in my life. The men I like come, the stories I like, the plot twist/reveals -- they all originate with Puccini.
I remedied my lack of knowledge this weekend and read a biography that my sister had. Interesting, but bland, and entirely lacking in what I wanted to know. So, I'm eyeing some other biographies. Need to find the local library, see what they have. But it did cover all the basics, why La Fanciulla del West is so different from Madama Butterfly, why it took him so long to write each opera, his relationship with his librettists (which is one of the things I want more of), the role Ricordi played in support and encouragement, and the basics of his personal life.