I was reading an article about composer, Giacamo Puccini today, and learned some fun stuff that I just wanted to share. So, to start out, Puccini is most famous for his operas, most notably Madame Butterfly (yeah, he's kind of a big deal). Breaking into the business wasn't exactly easy for him, though. His family was pretty poor when he was growing up, and his mother had to convince the queen of Italy at the time to grant him a scholarship so that he could go to music school. He got his first big break when he attempted to enter an opera that he wrote into a contest. He had submitted it on the very last day possible (because he wanted to get it just right, of course) but sill didn't win. Shortly after, he found himself at a party with the judges of the competition and they got to discussing his entry. The judges admitted that they didn't even remember Puccini's entry, but asked him to play it out for them on the piano. It hadn't been good enough to win the competition -or even good enough for the judges to remember it- but apparently it was good enough to blow the socks off of everyone at the party and inspired the judges to offer to produce his opera then and there.
All his operas were written in Italian, but Puccini liked to set them in far off places. Madame Butterfly, for one (which, by the way, no one liked when it first premiered, but is currently on the top ten most frequently performed operas list) is set in Japan, as are a couple others. He even -and this made me spit out my cheerios this morning- composed an opera called La Fanciulla del West, set during the California gold rush in America. There's a sheriff, a prospector, a bandit and even a horse in the story -only, the horse doesn't sing. Never thought I would have heard about something like that. :)