We are now providing a take-away service on our full a la carte and ‘specials’ menus
Call us on 8357 7309
Giacomo Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. Some of his arias, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, "Che gelida manina" from La bohème, and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot, have become part of popular culture.
As I mentioned earlier, Puccini was born into a musical dynasty. His father, Domenico Puccini, was an Italian composer who wrote several piano sonatas and concertos. Domenico died when Puccini was just five years old. Puccini's family, now without income, was aided by the city of Lucca, and his father's position as the cathedral organist was held open for Puccini once he became of age. Puccini studied music with several of his fathers pupils, however, he never took the church job that was held for him. Instead, after seeing an eye-opening performance of Verdi's Aida, Puccini dedicated his life and career to opera.
Puccini enrolled at Milan Conservatory in 1880. He studied with Antonio Bazzini, a well-known violinist and composer, and Amilcare Ponchielli, who composed the opera La gioconda. That same year, Puccini wrote his first liturgical piece, Messa, a mass ordinary that foreshadowed his upcoming operatic compositions. In 1882, Puccini entered a contest and began composing his first opera, Le Villi. After the piece was finished and performed in 1884, he did not win the contest. His second opera, Edgar, fell flat and was not well-received. For his later operas, Puccini was extremely picky about his librettists.
When Puccini wrote his second opera, he was commissioned by Giulio Ricordi (a highly successful publisher). Though the opera was a disaster due to the poor libretto, Ricordi stayed by Puccini's side. After finally finding suitable librettists (Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa), Puccini composed Manon Lescaut in 1893. Met with huge success, his third opera opened the door to great wealth and fame. The next three operas he composed have easily become the world's most beloved and performed: La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), and Madame Butterfly (1904). These operas earned Puccini a substantial amount of wealth and fame.
After his mother died, Puccini skipped town with his lover, Elvira Gemignani, who was married to another man, and moved to Milan in 1891. Though their relationship was frowned upon, the two were quite passionate about their love and even had a baby boy, named Antonio. In 1904, they finally married after Elvira's husband passed away. After Puccini's success and rise to fame, the public (much like today) became interested in his private life. It was clear that Elvira was a jealous woman. Convinced the house maid had an affair with Puccini, Elvira relentlessly questioned her to the point she finally committed suicide.
Able to spend his money, Puccini had a penchant for fine cigars and fast cars. He nearly killed himself after a severe accident. He also built a villa "Villa Museo Puccini" which is now owned by his granddaughter. Puccini did not write music quite as frequently. He wrote only four operas between 1904 to 1924, likely due to several major events. The family of the poor maid who Elvira bullied to death, successfully sued Elvira, which caused Puccini to pay for damages. His friend and publisher, Recordi, died in 1912. In 1924, Puccini nearly finished with Turandot died after surgery to remove his throat cancer.
Le Villi (1884)
Manon Lescaut (1893)
La Boheme (1896)
Madame Butterfly (1904)
La fanciulla del West (1910)
La Rondine (1917)
Il Trittico (1918)
Turandot (1924, finished by Franco Alfani in 1926)
Taste.com.au - The Advertiser - August 2011 by Tim Lloyd
A new Italian on the edge of the city has lots going for it. Tim Lloyd reports.
Eating out locally has become more and more of a pleasure of late. The choice up and down the local high streets on the southern side of town has expanded, and the restaurants have clearly informed each other on matters of quality.
Thirty years of occasionally dipping into the restaurants of Glen Osmond Rd, Goodwood Rd, King William St, Unley Rd, Duthy St, Greenhill Rd and now Fullarton Rd have been to witness a rise in diversity, quality and panache.
Restaurants now arrive and depart in quickstep if they don't provide food either of very good value or very good style. Some of the survivors have been large, dedicated premises but as the local main road speciality shopping has declined on these busy roads during the day, opportunities have opened up for small and specialised eateries.
At these former shopfronts, the dining floor is small, the kitchen is planned to the nearest square-centimetre, and the cook has to be smart, fast and adaptable.
These places are looking to start with a clientele who want to eat well locally, and might be thinking that it is wiser to walk home as well.
We reasoned that a brand-new restaurant with a week-old licence would be a good place to try out some well-aged wines from home, and we added to the collection by buying a Mitchell's Riesling from the wine list to begin the evening.
Puccini's chef is Mario Suma, best known for his Casa Mia restaurant from the 1990s on Melbourne St, and from the kitchens of many restaurants since. Lively and effusive, he is originally from Taranto, famous for its gulf, so seafood is going to be an integral dish of any outing.
Giacomo Puccini looks down at us from a photograph from behind the bar, but as for opera, we didn't hear any, and the restaurant soundtrack was mostly contemporary orchestral pop. Mario assured us, though, that Puccini operas also make it on occasion.
There were five entrees and starters and since there were five of us, local with interstate and overseas visitors, we had one each.
It was a call that tested the tiny Puccini's kitchen on a busy night, but it came up trumps with at least two of the dishes and acquitted itself well with the other three.
The gnocchi dish with tomato and olives was rich, beautifully textured and generous, although pretty light on chilli to justify its arrabbiata title. The prawns on a stick were half a dozen tall filo pastry cones, each containing a prawn, melt-in-the-mouth and absolutely fun to eat.
They were laid out on a salad that met all the hallmarks of great Italian salads, with freshness as well as richness, and that slight vinegar dominance of the style.
Mario's seafood connections were complete with a half-dozen cooked oysters topped with a spinach and parmesan cheese baked crust.
I usually prefer my oysters raw but these somehow kept the original sea flavours and textures inside a very different packaging.
Later courses were unexceptional rather than poor, and got off to a shaky start when the waitress listed the specials. One was basically beef and reef – steak with prawns – and the other chicken schnitzel. None of us had any interest in either of them.
These courses included my largish porterhouse steak, cooked just as I like it which is quickly grilled and then left warm so it is pink right through, and tasty and tender.
The plate came with generous helpings of carrots and beans, and a square of thin slices of slow-baked potato which was a real pleasure and stood up to the steak well.
Having just come back from northern Italy where the porcini dishes, even out of season, were absolutely full-flavoured, I will have to forgive the less than convincing porcini topping on my steak.
My friend had another decent dish, linguine with prawns, and because the full restaurant had eaten the place out of prawns, the waitress apologised that it had been necessary to include some Moreton Bay bugs.
There were no objections.
It was one of those warm and comforting dishes that extends a meal into an experience, and it was generous enough for us all to try some.
Mario introduced us to salt and pepper squid steaks using the Humboldt giant squid, which grows out to around 40kg and 2m in length, and has flesh more than 1cm thick.
See the full review:
Phone: (08) 8357 7309
309 Fullarton Road
Parkside SA 5063
Bookings are essential please call 8357 7309
Lunch & Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday
Opening hours may change according to seasons and customer popularity, please phone for confirmation.
If email bookings are preferred, please make sure they are made 24 hours in advance, otherwise please phone.
Special and full restaurant bookings are available outside and during our normal opening hours. Please call 83577309 to discuss