Lucca has a rich musical history boasting among its citizens in the past Luigi Boccherini, Niccolò Paganini and, Niccolao Dorati to name but a few but without question, Lucca’s most famous son is Giacomo Puccini.
Puccini is still one of the most popular composers in the world and the reason is surely that everyone loves a good love story and the fact one can’t but help coming away from one of his operas humming the tunes.
Lucca and Puccini have had a difficult relationship and for many years the city ignored the son that was esteemed by the rest of the world. However, Lucca has forgiven their rebel son his indiscretions and realized that he is a big asset for this city.
There is now a museum in the house where he was born and grew up. It houses manuscripts and letters and also his Steinway Piano on which some of his most famous compositions were composed including Turandot. There is also Turandot’s costume worn for the first production at the Met in New York. The house, however, has sadly lost its atmosphere and there is no feeling that it was once a home which is very sad as it is one of the few flats in Lucca which has an outside corridor that connects the sleeping zone with the living area. The stone archers can be seen from Via di Poggio so do cast your eyes up to the top floor.
In the square outside there is a modern bronze statue to the composer and sometimes in the summer. there are concerts of his arias. One of the delights is that often singers, many students or amateurs break out into song spontaneously in tribute to the maestro.
If you are not lucky enough to come across an impromptu performance there are concerts every evening in San Giovanni. While you there take a moment after the concert to walk around the corner and look up at the magnificent dome. There are also Roman ruins below the church. Both are open to the public.
The concerts might not always be performed to the greatest of international standards but the love of the work of local maestro is now honoured which must only be admired.
The theatre in Lucca was, of course, Puccini’s home opera house and during the opera season, his works are always included. The theatre is small by modern standards for opera but it is such a pretty little theatre and it seems very fitting that the first tenor to hit a high “C” Gilbert Duprez in 1831.