Puccini is one of the most beloved of all opera composers La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot play to packed opera houses the world over. In his lifetime he achieved an international celebrity accorded to only a few, yet the critics were rarely impressed. He was nevertheless a creative artist of profound sensitivity and dramatic flair who developed a unique form of free-flowing opera while penning some of the greatest melodies of all time. His oeuvre constitutes the final flowering of the centuries-old tradition of Italian opera while also being an influence on cinema music then in its infancy. This music companion provides a compelling overview of the constant tension created between Puccinis indulgent, sometimes traumatic personal life and his need to achieve exceptionally high standards in its work.