Saturday, April 10, 2010

"This is paradise!"

Culturissima has the good fortune to be in Tuscany, partly lapping up the sun but also to prepare some copy on the Puccini Opera Festival, held every summer just a stone's throw from Lucca.

Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, “the most fly-in-amber little town in the world” according to Hilaire Belloc, in 1858. Our client - a British tour company - will be using mediaeval Lucca as the base for their visit to the 57th Puccini Opera Festival, held in the lakeside village of Torre del Lago, where Puccini composed, inter alia, Madame Butterfly, La Bohème and Tosca.

Even before the birth of Puccini, Lucca had enjoyed a vibrant musical history: the 18th century composers Francesco Geminiani and Luigi Boccherini were born within the famous city walls, and Puccini himself was descended from a family of musicians, with his father excelling as a composer and teacher.  Puccini was a choirboy in Lucca’s cathedral, played the organ in the Church of San Michele and studied at the Pacini School of Music.  Short of money, the young Puccini is thought to have played the piano in local taverns… and even in houses of ill repute.

"This is paradise!" exclaimed Puccini on his first visit to Torre del Lago, a quiet Tuscan hamlet sandwiched between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Puccini settled in Torre in 1891 and bought a country estate there at the turn of the century - the Villa Museo Puccini, which now houses his mausoleum. Close by is Torre’s great open-air theatre, inaugurated in 2008, and the idyllic setting for the annual opera festival in homage to Puccini. It is here, on the banks of Lake Massaciuccoli, that we our clients will attend Tosca, Turandot and La Bohème.

In Lucca itself the relaxed pace of life will allow our clients to enjoy the town’s musical, architectural and atmospheric richness to the full.  As well as following in the footsteps of Puccini we have gained special permission for them to enter the Palazzo Mansi with its fine frescoed ballroom and series of tapestries; the Villa Guinigi, a rare survivor among 14th century Gothic villas; and the tiny botanic garden just inside the city walls.

1 comment:

  1. The only problem is that it can be so damned hot in Lucca. Are we going to be seeing you at Tanglewood this year? We miss you.