Mention the word, festival, and certain ideas immediately come to mind. An event, or series of events, not to be missed; something to be enjoyed, certainly; a party that everyone can join in but which sadly only lasts for a short time. The Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival in Lucca is different. The brainchild of Andrea Colombini, the Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival ensures that the music of Giacomo Puccini is heard in his birthplace every week of the year.
A permanent celebration of Puccini’s music
From Manon Lescaut to Madama Butterfly, from Tosca to Turandot, Puccini composed some of the world’s greatest operas. Colombini wanted to ensure that the idyllic city of Lucca became synonymous with the music of its famous son. Its name in Italian, Puccini e la sua Lucca (Puccini and his Lucca), perfectly sums up what Colombini wanted to achieve when he established the festival back in 2004.
In the tourism high season – roughly speaking, from April to October – not a single day goes by in Lucca without Puccini being performed. During the rest of the year, the festival continues on three days every week. Venues include the outstanding acoustic space of the Church of San Giovanni, where Puccini was baptised, and the Oratory of San Giuseppe, part of the Museum of Lucca Cathedral.
A different concert every day
Colombini has ensured that lovers of Puccini are always spoilt for choice. Each night has a different theme – “Puccini and Verdi”, “Puccini’s Women” and “A Night at the Opera”, to name just a few – allowing enthusiasts of the composer to indulge their love for his music as often as they like.
Each performance features one or two professional singers accompanied by a pianist. The composer wrote some of the most beguiling melodies in opera. The Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival in Lucca is an opportunity to hear his work in a way that a full opera doesn’t allow for: close-up, intimate and focussed just on the music. Every concert begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for about an hour, giving those attending the opportunity to explore Lucca’s restaurants later in the evening.
Where else can you find Puccini in Lucca?
Puccini is brought further to life in Lucca by the museum created in the home he was born in. Today, Number 9, corte San Lorenzo, outside which visitors are greeted by a magnificent bronze statue of the composer, is the Puccini Museum. The home was bequeathed to the city by Puccini’s daughter-in-law, Rita Dell’Anna, in 1974.
The museum includes many unique artefacts from Puccini’s career: scores of his music, the Steinway grand piano he worked at and, perhaps most exciting of all, the costume worn by Maria Jeritza at Turandot’s New York premiere at the Met on 16 November 1926. A visit to the museum by day is the ideal way to whet one’s appetite for the music that follows in the evening.
Customer recommendations for the Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival
Those who have experienced Puccini e la sua Lucca invariably leave events singing its praises. “Fantastic”, “Spine-tingling”, “Fabulous” and “Wonderful” are some of the words they use. One new fan of Puccini’s music has said that they had come to Lucca to see the city’s Renaissance walls, but would return in future for the concerts.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Puccini created music that captures all our emotions: at times, sad; at others, defiant. Throughout his work there is a pervasive sense of melancholy that Puccini chose to embrace rather than be overwhelmed by. It is the reason why his music is so enchanting; it has the quality of being ethereal and familiar at one and the same time.
Time spent in Tuscany demands that you visit this captivating city and take your seat for the Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival in Lucca. It is an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.