Puccini was just 21 when he composed this mass for male soloists, four-part choir and symphony orchestra. The Credo had been intended as a self-contained work, which Puccini worked into a full mass as his graduation exercise from the luccai Istituto Musicale Pacini. It received its first performance on 12 July 1880. It is no surprise that the future world-famous opera composer wrote sacred music as a young man, given that his family had served as church musicians in Lucca for generations. Even though it is a juvenile and a sacred work, it bears the traits of the future opera composer. It is no accident that his composition teacher criticised it for its theatrical character. Although the Mass was a success at the premiere, it was never performed again until after his death, in Chicago in 1952.