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It’s July and the beginning of the 2022 Puccini Festival in Italy!
Gary and I have had the pleasure of attending several operas in Italy, but all of them have been by composer Giuseppe Verdi. To date, we’ve seen Il Trovatore while staying in Parma, Rigoletto when in Rome, and La Traviata in the beautiful open Arena di Verona. Since now residents of Lucca, this year, we wanted to attend at least one of Giacomo Puccini’s operas. After all, he was born in Lucca.
There are many events throughout Lucca in honor of Puccini. The 2022 Puccini Festival is our midsummer dream. Since 1930 many of his operas are enjoyed at the lakeside stage built for this purpose in the town of Torre del Lago.
Torre del Lago
Purchasing our tickets early, we both decided to attend the opera, Madame Butterfly. Without transportation, we booked with a local tour company, Tau Touring just for the transportation, and were surprised the fee was so reasonable.
The evening arrived and we were excited. Even though Italy’s been experiencing a record heat wave, we got dressed up to attend. Gary even went so far as to buy an Italian-made sports jacket tailored to accommodate his few extra pounds around the middle. The attractive medium blue lightweight jacket looks amazing on him. After buying it, he came home and informed me it cost more than his first car. He needed a nice jacket for this event, and the upcoming wedding we are attending.
Beautiful Lake Massaciuccoli
Ilene & Gary
curtain call opening night July 2022
Arriving at Torre del Lago, the vast Lake Massaciuccoli created a beautiful backdrop to the stage, although mostly hidden by trees. The open-air grand theater has a capacity of 3,400 seats in a natural setting just a few steps away from the Villa Mausoleo where Giacomo Puccini lived and composed his music. This is the only festival in the world dedicated to the composer which attracts thousands of people each year.
The evening was quite warm but occasionally, you felt a slight breeze from the lake. The moon was out, and a few stars could be seen in the night sky. As usual, both Italian and English words were displayed on monitors on both sides of the stage. During the three-hour performance, the plastic seats weren’t very comfortable, and I found myself fidgeting a bit.
No videos or photographs were allowed to be taken so the only snapshot I got was at the end during the curtain call.
There was even a bit of drama during the intermission. Hearing it’s pretty common in Italy, a few people stood at the front of the stage at ground level with a large banner protesting. The woman could barely be heard until the audience realized something was happening and quieted down a bit.
It turned out to be about global warming. Although Gary and I couldn’t understand what the woman was saying, the audience was either applauding or booing, all at the same time. We think because the President of Tuscany was in attendance that night, perhaps was the prompting of the protest. Frankly, we didn’t think it was the time or the place and were a bit annoyed it delayed the second half of the performance by another half hour. As in Italy, the event didn’t start on time due to all the various speeches by dignitaries at the very beginning. This was likely because it was the opening day of the festival.
What was funny is that when we were leaving the venue to find out bus transportation back to Lucca, the woman was standing in the parking lot handing out fliers. Gary and I both thought it odd and commented that if this happened back in the States, she more than likely would have been spending the night in jail.
Verdi vs. Puccini
I honestly enjoyed the performance but found myself comparing it to the three Giuseppe Verdi operas we’ve seen in Italy. Gary and I discussed this comparison on the way home on the bus. Verdi’s operas seem livelier and perhaps it was because we chose this particular Puccini opera, who knows? We decided we would attend another during next year’s festival and make our final verdict. But the evening was wonderful, yet long. It was after two o’clock in the morning before we arrived home and crashed for the night.
Puccini Around Lucca
Since Puccini was born in Lucca, there are tributes to him everywhere. We’ve enjoyed visiting the house where he grew up which has now become a museum. In this same area is a bronze statue of him in the piazza. What we find even more fascinating is finding the “Puccini doors” scattered throughout Lucca Centro.
These paintings are found on the roll-up gates of stores in town. When the store is open, they are hidden. It’s only when the store closes and the metal gates closed for the night, will you see the art revealed. Here are a few I’ve found in the town that is just charming. I had no idea children did these works of art in an area around the historic center. I’m still looking for the rest of them! Here’s more information.