Torre del Lago, Italy where Puccini lived and worked

The 68th Puccini Summer Festival

Culture News

The 68th Puccini Summer Festival takes place from 15th July – 27th August 2022 in Torre del Lago. Puccini wrote many of his operas, such as La Boheme, Tosca and Madam Butterfly in the village.

Puccini, his music and the world is the theme of the symphonic concerts, staged in the open-air theatre situated in the little village of Torre del Lago. The village is where the composer lived, worked and now rests.

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini is regarded as one of the great Italian Opera composers. He wrote 12 operas, much loved for the melodies and drama of the orchestrations. He was the rockstar of his age, writing the popular music of the time, that entertained and pulled at the heartstrings.

Puccini and the Tuscan city of Lucca

Lucca – a charming, characterful and affluent city – is the birthplace of Puccini. It is where he spent his childhood and youth. His operas are frequently performed in the Giglio Theatre and San Giovanni and Ss Reparata church in Lucca. The apartment where Puccini was born and spent his formative years is now a museum. It contains his Steinway & Sons piano, his letters, paintings, photographs and much more.

Lucca is a musical city, that not only hosts Puccini Operas, but rock and pop acts every year during its summer festival.

Puccini’s family had a long musical connection with the city. His father and grandfather had been composers and organists in the local churches. Puccini’s mother recognised her son’s talent and wrote a letter to the Queen of Italy asking for a scholarship for him.

They were a poor family, hence Puccini had to earn money. He became the pianist in residence in the local brothel, and also performed in the church of San Giovanni on Sunday mornings. It amused Puccini to see the same faces on both Friday night and Sunday morning, and his gossiping caused a few problems! It is claimed he stole some of the lead organ pipes to sell for money. However, being a talented pianist he avoided the missing pipes whilst playing.

Early Career

Puccini moved to Milan to continue his studies and had some moderate success with Le Villi. Thanks to this, Giulio Ricordi, an Italian editor and musician, acknowledged the great talent of the young Puccini and became his publicist. At age 34, Puccini had immediate success with Manon Lascaut, followed by La Boheme, arguably today’s most popular opera, Tosca and Madam Butterfly.

Puccini loved women and they were the central characters of his Operas.

Personal Life & Scandal

Puccini began an affair with Elvira, wife of a wealthy merchant in Lucca, which caused quite the furore. They married, 10 years after they had first met. They had to wait so long as her husband refused to divorce her; Puccini and Elvira had one son. Their relationship was tempestuous, due to Puccini’s many affairs and her jealousy.

When, in 1903, Puccini was involved in a car accident and broke his leg, they also discovered he was suffering from diabetes. Therefore,  they employed Doria Manfredi, a local girl, to look after him. Elvira thinking they were having an affair, publicly denounced and shamed Doria. For once however, Elvira was wrong. The unfortunate and distraught Doria took poison and died an agonising death over 8 days. Elvira was taken to court by Doria’s family and found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 5 months and 5 days in prison. Puccini paid the family compensation so Elvira avoided jail. He may have been feeling rather guilty; Puccini had been having an affair, but with Doria’s cousin, Giulia.

“I am a mighty hunter of wild fowl, operatic librettos and attractive women.”

Puccini’s time at Torre del Lago

From 1891, Puccini spent more and more time at Torre del Lago, situated on Lake Massaciuccoli. The lake was his inspiration and recreation. In fact, his 2nd favourite instrument, after his piano, was his gun. After a night of composing, he liked nothing better, than to hunt and shoot poor ducks from the sky.

Puccini’s house in Torre del Lago is open to visitors. He wrote many of his operas, such as La Boheme, Tosca and Madam Butterfly in this Villa.

Puccini’s love of Tuscan cigars and cigarettes proved to be his downfall. In 1924 he died of throat cancer. Puccini is buried in the family chapel, inside the villa, beside the lake that he adored so much.

An experience not to be missed, the 68° Puccini Summer Festival in Torre del Lago, where the composer lived, worked, loved and adored.

Author: Sarah Cater is a recognised tour guide for Italy. For bespoke tours to Lucca, Torre del Lago or other parts of Italy, contact Sarah Cater here.

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