2020-05-21Feast of the AscensionRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

The great Italian composer Giacomo Puccini wrote a number of famous operas. Among these are LaBoheme and Madame Butterfly.

In 1922 the 64-year-old Puccini was stricken with cancer. In spite of the disease, Puccini was determined to complete his final opera, Turandot.

He worked on it day and night. Many urged him to rest, thinking he could not finish it anyway. When his sickness worsened, Puccini said to his disciples, "If I don't finish Turandot, I want you to finish it for me."

Then came the fateful day when Puccini was taken to the hospital for surgery. He died shortly after in 1924.

Puccini's disciples gathered together the various scores from Turandot. They studied them carefully and then completed the opera.

In 1926 the world premiere was performed in Milan's magnificent LaScala Opera House. It was directed by Puccini's favorite student, Arturo Toscanini.

Everything went beautifully until the opera reached that point where Puccini was forced to put down his pen. Tears ran down Toscanini's face. He stopped the music, put down his baton turned to the audience and cried out, "Thus far the Master wrote, but he died." Then there was silence. No one moved, no one spoke.

After a couple of minutes, Toscanini picked up the baton again, turned to the audience, smiled through his tears and cried out, "But the disciples finished his work."

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