Puccini was born into a family of court composers and organists in the historic city of Lucca , Italy. With a strong feeling of tradition in the Puccini family, it was expected that Giacomo would assume his deceased father’s position as maestro di cappella when he came of age — by 14 he already was playing organ in a number of the town’s churches. But at age 18 a performance of Verdi’s Aida inspired him to devote his life to opera. In 1880, Puccini began composition studies with Amilcare Ponchielli at the Milan Conservatory of Music. There he was introduced into the professional artists’ circle, to which he would belong for the rest of his life.
He was not a prolific composer. Unlike most of his contemporaries, there were long intervals between his operas, partly because of his fastidiousness in choosing subjects, several of which he took up only to abandon after several months, and partly because of his constant demands for modifications of the texts. Much of his time, too, was spent in hunting in the marshes around his home and in trips abroad to supervise revivals of his works.