Puccini started his career as a church organist. Then at the Milan Conservatory, Ponchielli steered him toward opera. His first few attempts were failures, but with Manon Lescaut and La Bohème he achieved fame and fortune. This was followed by Madam Butterfly and his last opera, Turandot.

Puccini was a master at writing melodies for the human voice, and had a great sense of drama and melodrama. Once he had established his successful formula, his technique remained the same, and his box office receipts soared.