The Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago
The notes of the most beautiful Puccini arias in the magic summer setting of Torre del Lago Puccini
Torre del Lago Puccini is a borough of Viareggio located near the beautiful lake of Massaciuccoli, in the Province of Lucca. Its name, as well as indicating an ancient tower that was in the 15th century in the vicinity of the lake, recalls the famous composer who lived and composed in this place for more than thirty years: Giacomo Puccini.
The Puccini Festival which takes place every year during July and August is dedicated to the masterpieces of the great Tuscan composer. The Puccini Opera Festival at Torre del Lago has since the 1930s become a great prestige event of international appeal. The Festival Puccini Foundation is committed to this extraordinary summer Puccini opera festival at Torre del Lago with new interpretations of the most famous works by the composer from Lucca, combining the tradition of his extensive repertoire to the innovations and ideas of some contemporary directors. If you decide to watch the shows of the Puccini Festival in Lucca at Torre del Lago, the program will leave you spoilt for choice. You can discover the lesser-known works of the master or rediscover the famous notes of his most beautiful arias!
GIACOMO PUCCINI Torre del Lago had been for thirty years, starting from 1891, the home of Giacomo Puccini and the place where the master created his immortal works. This quiet village allowed the composer to find inspiration and create a space suitable for his great music. At the end of the 19th century the name of the place was just Torre del Lago The small rural settlement was, and still is, enriched by the fascinating presence of water: on one side, the calm surface of the lake of Massaciuccoli and on the other side, wide beaches lapped by the waves of the Versilia. What could be better to find one’s creative dimension? Some artists seek peace, others need the stimulus of the heart of a metropolis; Giacomo Puccini was part of the first category. The teacher, in addition to music, also had another passion: hunting. Can you imagine? Puccini, among a score and another, pointed his rifle at pheasant and Tuscans snipes? After all, even intellectuals need to blow off steam! Before focusing on the legacy of this great artist and the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Italy you should remember a little the life and major works of this extraordinary Italian and also Tuscan figure.
Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858, in a family where music was of primary interest. His father, Michele Puccini, was a prominent professor of composition and worked at the Istituto Musicale Pacini. Also in previous generations, the Puccini family members had played a prestigious role in the academic music of the city and as choirmasters in the Cathedral of Lucca. The premature death of his father put the Puccini family into economic difficulties. Giacomo, however, was able to continue his musical education and to develop his talent, even in spite of some discouragement from his maternal uncle who considered him as lazy. When he attended the Istituto Musicale Pacini of Lucca, the genius of Giacomo Puccini began to make himself known and at fourteen years of age the young musician began playing as an organist in the churches of the city. In addition to helping his family with earnings he derived, Puccini matured his inclination towards composing giving life to his early works: the cantata The children of beautiful Italy and the Motet for St. Paulinus, both in 1877.
The following years were characterized by the great success that you and the rest of the audience of the Festival Puccini expect every year to experience unique emotions.
After obtaining a diploma at the Institute of Lucca, Puccini continued his education at the Conservatory of Milan with the support of Queen Margaret, who offered him a monthly salary; a sort of internship. In fact, Milan, is still the city that many students emigrate to today, but in the past it was one of the main cultural centres and the most important music centres of Europe and also among the most prestigious for the opera house. In short, the most essential place for those who wanted to be recognised in this discipline! Friends and teachers who assisted Giacomo Puccini in this period are, in turn, names of great value for the history of classical music. The first compositions made after obtaining his diploma in composition at the Milan Conservatory, Le Villi (1884) and Edgar (1889) were a good result in the first case and a fruitless effort in the second. But fate had more in store for the young Tuscan composer!
Since 1884 the private life of Puccini is linked to his future wife Elvira Bonturi, with whom he began to share his daily life in the city of Monza and whom he had a son with, Antonio said Tonio. However, at Monza, the teacher could not enjoy a life that was neither charming nor quiet: from the outskirts of Milan, Giacomo and his family moved to Tuscany, first to Chiatri and then, finally, to Torre del Lago. Puccini in Italy at the time had already enjoyed success and earned enough money to buy a villa and to create an environment that suited to his needs artistic and human needs. Torre del Lago therefore, became his refuge, away from noise of the city, the so-called ivory tower and perfect for an artist like him; and so he dedicated himself to his imagination and work with his own views and emotional sounds. To demonstrate this great combination of environment and music, between peace and creative work there are the most famous compositions of the master who, with the exception of Turandot, were created in this villa. At Torre del Lago Puccini finally found the winning formula for giving the world his great and immortal music!
WORKS The Puccini Festival program in Torre del Lago offers many evenings to learn about the many different opera works of the Lucca master; do not be intimidated if you have never heard some of those on the calendar… We at toscanainside.com are here to help you choose! After an early career and the first labours, Puccini's first success came in 1893 represented in Turin with his third opera: Manon Lescaut. It was written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, authors who allowed the music of Puccini to emerge and reach an incredible success. The collaboration with the two librettists continued with the three masterpieces of Puccini: La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. Imagine the two writers proposing scenarios and words to Puccini and the latter correcting, adjusting, approving or rejecting them. A very delicate task! Following much effort and sleepless nights, the premiere of Madama Butterfly was held at the Teatro della Scala at the beginning of the century (1904). The public's reaction was not what had been hoped and the opera was watched without much enthusiasm. The due and deserved appreciation came only during the second performance! Like Puccini, many other great artists initially struggle to make themselves recognized, and often are rejected during their career and it is only after their departure that they are considered great. The Festival Puccini is the happy ending of the life of this great Italian genius of the 20th century; still there is much more behind his opera works....
As we said, Puccini was at the height of his fame and recognition during the early years of the 20th century; but the next phase of his life was characterized by a crisis, made of dramatic events that involved his private life and also affected the artistic work of the musician: Giacomo Puccini in 1903 was seriously injured in a car accident; in 1906 his faithful librettist Giacosa died; in 1909 his maid Doria Manfredi committed suicide and, finally, in 1912 the publisher, and his close friend, Giulio Ricordi passed away. Despite some productions such as The Girl of the Golden West (1910) and La Rondine (1917), this period was characterized by many abandoned projects and a general sense of incompleteness and artistic impasse towards his work.
During the Puccini Festival, Italy you will easily find the opera of the Trittico (Triptych) of 1918, that were written after this dark period (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi) and, above all, the magnificent and unfinished Turandot. This famous opera was not a Torre del Lago opera as Puccini had moved to Orbetello, in the Tuscan Maremma, and then to Viareggio. The composer's death, in 1924, took place in Brussels due to a throat surgery that caused him a fatal heart attack.
The FESTIVAL Puccini and his music continues, year after year, to enchant the countless spectators attending the festival at Torre del Lago opera festival in his honour. This festival di Puccini, has since 1930, taken place in the summer months outdoors, in the Teatro dei Quattromila (3400 seats) nestled on the breathtaking Massaciuccoli Lake, near Villa Puccini. The Festival, Lucca is an event of great prestige, known far beyond the borders of Tuscany, and is suitable for those who come to stay on the coast of Versilia and want to spend an evening out of the ordinary. The magic of the place and the large turnout of Puccini fans guarantee each year for the festival a large and well-deserved success. Imagine the surprise to listen live to the now familiar and famous arias and melodies in the places where they were born and which inspired them!
AROUND THE FESTIVAL Puccini in Torre del Lago a splendid villa was built, which is now open to the public. Inside you can admire interesting objects and memories of the life and work of the great master (including the piano). To visit the Museum is a perfect opportunity to get in touch with the places loved by Puccini and to find out more about the artist.
Every year, during the so-called Puccini Month, the Puccini prize is awarded, dedicated to female performers. This important recognition, which has existed since the 70s, is a golden statuette (almost like an Oscar!) which is reminiscent of the features of Puccini with a wide tilted hat, coat and narrow cigarette between the lips.
The Festival of Puccini is well worth a visit. Make a gift to someone for example in order to spend an unforgettable evening, sitting among the spectators lovers of opera and other guests. Under the starry sky and the charm of the music of Giacomo Puccini all around you. Let yourself be seduced by the amazing locations of the story of Turandot or the coloured kimonos of the eastern scenes of Nagasaki in Madama Butterfly! Follow Rodolfo and Mimi in the bohemian Paris of the 19th century, let yourself be moved by the story of Floria Tosca, and play back the music of the beautiful music verses of the arias I lived for art, I lived for love and the stars were shining…
During the upcoming summer holiday take a trip to the Torre del Lago Festival Pucciniano. And on this occasion you will discover the many passions of this great musical genius who loved cars and to hunt!