Program Notes

Messa di Gloria

Messa di Gloria

Renowned as the composer of such operas as La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly,Giacomo Puccini began his musical career in the composition of church music. Messa di Gloria was written by Puccini at the age of 18 as his graduation thesis from the Institute Musicale of Lucca, Italy. It was also his personal tribute to the tradition of his family who had specialized in sacred music for 4 generations.

Messa di Gloria is a “work full of melodic freshness and movement, richness of sound and lyrical softness”. Unlike the church music of the late 1800’s the Puccini mass shows many characteristics of opera, full of solemnity and depth of expression.

The mass begins with the succession of the four entries “Christe Eleison, the first indication of the dramatic element of opera. In the “Gloria” the longest part of the mass, the opera influence is present again with the contrast of individual segments. The mass continues with the powerful “Credo” followed by the intense but jubilant “Sanctus”. The mass ends with the “Agnus Dei” with a musical line reminiscient of an 18th century minuet.

Although praised by critics in 1880, Messa di Gloria fell into oblivion until 1952 when it was reperformed for the first time in Chicago. It has now taken its rightful place in musical history as a lasting tribute to the Glory of God.