Giacomo Puccini was a composer of some of the world’s favourite operas, lyrical, melodic works with story lines that wouldn’t disgrace a soap opera today. His work is celebrated every year in the lakeside setting of Torre del Lago where, against a backdrop of the Alpuan Alps in the open air theatre on Lake Massaciuccoli opera lovers come to enjoy the performances. The venue is near the villa where he wrote many of the operas including Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Tosca and Manon Lescaut. These operas are performed by an international cast: famous names from the past who performed here are Luciano Pavarotti and Beniamino Gigli.
Puccini: Visit Museums that were Once his Homes - Lucca, Italy
The homes of the composer of Madame Butterfly, Tosca and La Boheme, are now Museums open to the public. Visit them and see and hear an opera in its exquisite lakeside setting.
Puccini - Scandal and Seductions
He described himself as a hunter of women and indeed he was a womaniser: he certainly seems to have had an enormous attraction for the females he came in contact with. One story has it that his wife, Elvira, sewed garlic into his clothes in an effort to make him less attractive to women and she publicly denounced their maid, Dona Manfredi, and accused her of having an affair with him. This had disastrous effects as the scandal caused the maid to commit suicide. The scandal provoked a court case brought to prove the girl’s innocence. It succeeded in doing just that, and shortly after its conclusion, the Puccinis separated.
Puccini as Sportsman
It is surprising to find such a man of high artistry also enjoying hunting, fishing and shooting, but Giacomo Puccini did not live in an ivory tower: he also lived for the sporting life in the area. The nearby marshes provided the sport he was so fond of and his hunting guns hang on the wall of the museum. He owned a motor boat and was never happier than when out on the lake, line over the side and a gun in his hand ready to bring down some wildfowl as can be seen in the photographs on display. He was a man of his time as well with an eye to the future. He had one of the first cars in Italy, one of the first telephones and was a keen photographer.
Restaurant on the Lake, Torre del Lago
Born and Raised in Lucca Puccini is now its favourite son
Puccini was born and spent his childhood in 1858 in nearby Lucca where many visitors to the opera find accommodation as there is a wide range of hotels and pensiones there and little in Torre del Lago. Lucca has embraced Puccini as its favourite son, especially the area around his former home in Corte San Lorenzo (just round the corner from the famous S. Michaele’s church) which is now a Museum open to the public. The house has been sensitively restored to its former mid-nineteenth century style and fans of his work will find much to interest them in this museum. The various rooms through which you are guided have descriptions of what they were used for as well as Puccini’s connection with the objects in the room, there are manuscripts and music scores from his operas, photos and paintings, a piano, and a costume of Turandot worn by Maria Jeritza for the premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House of New York in 1926, and other memorabilia.
The Man Himself - Giacomo Puccini
Piazza Citadella by the Museum
Outside the house, dominating Piazza Citadella, is a statue of the great man, the square lined with cafes and trattorias, ideally placed for a snack, meal or just a drink taken sitting in the sunshine or shade.
Puccini House Museum Visitor Information
•Hours: Wednesdays through Mondays, 10AM - 6PM (11AM - 5PM, Nov - March)
•Admission: 7 euro
•Location: Corte San Lorenzo 8, off Piazza Citadella
How to get to Lucca: Fly to Pisa and then take local train, bus or taxi. Trains and buses from Pisa are both efficient and leave regularly from inside the airport. Bus is just outside the arrivals hall at the airport (buy tickets beforehand at the ticket kiosk). The bus arrives inside the walls at Piazzale Verdi from which it is a short walk to hotels inside the city walls.
Below: One of the exquisite works in the Church of S. Michele in Lucca, this one by Andrea Della Robbia.