Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca on December 22nd 1858. The last four generations of his family dedicated their lives to music, both from the maternal and the paternal side. His birth house, at Corte San Lorenzo, beside San Michele square is the red one behind the statue positioned there in his honour. The house is not open for visits right now because of a large restoration work, but holds many objects that belonged to the composer: his piano, pieces of furniture, many of his awards, important original manuscripts from his youth and many letters.
Following the family traditions, Puccini became singer (1868), organist (1872), and also active as a precocious composer. In 1874 the Pacini Musical Institute of Lucca accepts him, and two years later he writes the Prelude to the local orchestra. From 1880, Puccini moves to Milan where he studies at the Conservatory. That's how starts a successful career of Giacomo Puccini who composed many of the most famous operas worldwide.
At Milan he presents his first opera, Edgar, at the theatre “La Scala” in the year 1889 but it didn't have so much success and despite that, he didn't loose his faith, supported by his editor. While he thought about new characters, he moves to his house at Torre del Lago, near Viareggio, to compose the music for a new “libretto” (the story for an opera), “Manon Lescaut”, a character based on an opera by Massenet, presented with success in 1893.
The next of his works was “La Bohème” which, after two years of hard work is shown the first time at Turin in 1896, with a lukewarm success, which, however impressive in making the replica and shooting at other theatres in Italy. Meanwhile Puccini is often on the road, to follow performances of his works in various Italian cities and abroad.
However, the search for a new subject for the subsequent work becomes a major concern of Puccini, and kicks the draft "Tosca", a result of hard work together with the authors of the story, just like La Bohème (by Illica and Giacosa). Also in this case, the first contact with the public, at Rome in 1900, was not so exciting, but only a few months later the new work also entered in the register of the major European theatres.
In July 1900 Puccini saw in London the drama "Madame Butterfly". The entity is chosen, setting aside other ideas, including a Marie Antoinette. He is always at work together with Illica and Giacosa, struggling with the usual concerns, but the slowness of his work this time is caused by a serious car accident (February 1903), leading to Puccini a broken leg and a particularly long convalescence.
The first version of Madame Butterfly, in two acts presented at Milan, Theatre La Scala, in February of 1904, is a resounding failure, but only three months after the revival at Brescia, in three acts, with some modifications and extensive cuts, signs the definite success of the work.
The next years are founded on many new works presented at the Metropolitan of New York, like “La fanciulla del West” (1910), working with new authors. His next big successful work is "Turandot" – one of the most well known chords worldwide. Turandot demands a hard work for many years, slowed also by Puccini's disease, a throat cancer discovered on 1924, when Turandot was almost finished. Before the last readjustments and the first performance, Puccini goes to Bruxelles to be operated on the throat but dies on November 29th 1924.
Puccini has lived and worked in many houses, some of them built for him. This was one of his passions, like the one for cars. At Celle, in Garfagnana is possible to visit one of Puccini's house, by previous reservations with the “Lucchesi nel Mondo” Association. E-mail: email@example.com or tel.: +39 0583467855 or +39 0583359488.
The Villa at Torre del Lago, Viareggio, where the maestro spent long time to compose, specially his last years, when he worked on Turandot, holds now the Museum Villa Puccini. It is a stunning location immersed in the unspoiled nature close to the sea, wanted by Puccini to retreat in seclusion to compose. In the villa's chapel is where Puccini has been buried. The Museum is opened the whole year, with different timetable between winter and summer. For more information: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. +39 0584341445.
Maybe the largest and most important place and event about Puccini is the “Festival Pucciniano” that takes place every year at the Theatre Torre del Lago Puccini, a recently built large open air theatre positioned between the Lake of Massaciuccoli and the Tirrenian Sea, 4 km from Viareggio.
In this location the Puccini Festival has taken place for the last 70 years. Every year the Festival receives more than 40.000 spectators. It holds a modern arena with 3.200 places, a wide stage and a comfortable auditorium with 495 privileged places where to enjoy the best performances of Puccini's work. Info and tickets: E-mail: email@example.com or tel.: +39 0584359322. Adriana Lucchesi, Aug 2009.