The Puccini Code

Deborah Burton - pag. 7-32

Written in the style of novelist Dan Brown and using actual quotations from Puccini’s letters and other documents, the author creates the characters Prof. Segugio and her assistant Christie Hunter who explore Puccini’s compositional practices in the unfinished opera Turandot. They work toward solving the riddles of Puccini’s technique – parallel constructions, abrupt changes in texture and style, a sense of tonal coherence in polytonal or atonal settings – by reading contemporary and modern critics and by closely examining the scores. Prof. Segugio ultimately sorts Puccini’s unusual techniques into two compositional types: direct and indirect conflation, two forms of layering that combine to create a score with a diatonic basis beneath modernistic elements. Documentary evidence supporting these conclusions is found in an unpublished note by the composer, at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library, and in a rare sketch for Turandot’s finale with written indications by the composer.