Composer (1847 - 1906)
Apart from his main output as a poet and playwright, Giacosa is also known for his great contribution to the writing of important operatic libretti.
His initial training was influenced by his father who wished him to study law, his father having been an important magistrate. After having finished his degree in 1868, Giacose started an apprenticeship in his father's law firm. At the same time, though, he also had the opportunity to become part of the literary world in Turin, making friends with many writers such as Sacchetti, Boito and Camerana, who were associated with the "Dante Alighiere Society".
His debut as a writer occurred when he wrote the "proverbi drammatici" entitled Non dir quattro se non l'hai nel sacco, but it was not until 1870 that Giacosa first managed to become recognised. This was with writings which were generally in martelliano verse, nostalgically evoking an ideal and picturesque image of the Middle Ages. Apart from his first and very successful opera Una Partita a scacchi (1873), a comedy in verse with a medieval setting, other important works were Il Trionfo dell'amore (1875), Fratello d'armi (1887) and Il Marito amante della moglie (1876), the only piece influenced by Goldoni. In the same period Giacosa also worked occasionally in journalism, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
In 1888 Giacosa moved to Milan, where he accepted the post of director at its drama school, and also took a teaching post in literary drama and acting at the Conservatory. When his plays became successful, he left teaching to devote himself exclusively to writing for the theatre. In this period Giacosa initially wrote plays with a naturalism inspired by topical themes, such as one of his masterpieces Tristi amori (1887). He later moderated the effect of naturalisism and adopted a more melancholy tone, as can be found in Come le foglie. In the latter, the influence of Ibsen is present to some extent, but more explicitly so in I Diritti dell'anima (1904) and Il Più forte (1904).
In addition to these plays, which made him one of the most significant playwrights of the late 1800s, it is important to mention his collection of short stories Novelle e paesi valdostana (1886). However, he is now principally remembered for his libretti, written in collaboration with Luigi Illica, for Puccini's most famous operas: La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1899) and Madama Butterfly (1903).
Giuseppe Giacosa died in Turin in 1906.