I n his time,
Giacomo Puccini was the world's richest and most
famous living composer. He was born in Lucca in 1858,
the 6th of 8 children, in an apartment on the second floor
of Corte San Lorenzo 9. Here Puccini spent much of his youth,
before moving to Milan. Descended from a family of five
generations of musicians, his talent was unquestionable even
as a child, even if his reputation was a long time coming.
In fact, his popularity and success came with his third
opera, Manon Lescaut, when he was 35 years old.
Puccini became famous all over the world and traveled all over to perform
his works; but his favourite location was always his home town. In
particular, he was very fond of his home in Torre del Lago, where he wrote
most of the works; today it host a spectacular open air theatre which stages
the Puccini festival in the summer.
At the time of his death Puccini’s home, in the historical centre of Lucca,
passed to his son Antonio and then his wife Rita Dell'Anna, who in 1974 gave
the building to the municipality to be turned into a museum. The square
where the museum is located is easily recognizable due to the bronze statue
of the artist who is depicted as sitting and smoking. As you enter Piazza
della Cittadella from Via San Paolino, you will find the entrance to the
museum behind the statue of Puccini, on the right.
The key piece in the museum’s collection is the Steinway piano,
purchased by Giacomo Puccini in 1901, surely one of the most important
pianos owned by the composer, both for its quality, and the fact that it has
maintained its original features. On this piano Puccini created much of his
music, especially his last painful opera, Turandot. In the Museum you can
admire the composer’s family furniture and personal objects, including
various awards received during the early period of his career, which began
in Lucca as an organist in the Church of San Paolino (one of his early work
is entitled Motet for San Paolino). Also on display are letters, sheet music,
memorabilia and Turandot’s original dress, worn in the first production of
the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1926.
Every Saturday at midday, the museum offers free guided tours in Italian.
Check that there are no changes to the timetable depending on the time of
Puccini's personal life ...
Puccini moved away from Lucca and attended the Conservatorio di Milano.
Determined to follow a career as a composer, he composed his first opera Le Villi after completing his final exams. The opera was not a success, but
allowed him to become noticed by Giulio Ricordi, the most important Italian
music publisher. The latter not only included Le Villi in the catalog of his
publishing house, but commissioned Puccini a second opera, Edgar, also a
failure during its first presentation.
Meanwhile in the late 1800, Puccini caused a scandal when he fell in love
with a married woman, Elvira Bonturi, who in 1886 left her husband to live
with him, bringing her daughter with her. For the first few years, the new
family lived in difficult economic conditions; often in rented houses,
sometimes even staying with relatives, and always separated from each other.
With the success of the third opera, Manon Lescaut (1893), everything
changed and Puccini was able to create a solid economic basis for himself
and his family. In 1896 with La Bohème, he discovered an even greater
success, also at international level and with the proceeds bought two
country villas, in Torre del Lago and in Chiatri. The success continued with
the two later operas, Tosca (1900) and Madame Butterfly
(1904), in which Puccini became the richest and most famous living composer
of the time. Major opera houses abroad represented his compositions in his
presence. The first time was in 1910, with a world premiere of a work of
Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, which made its debut in New York; it
was a great event.
In 1913 Puccini was commissioned by a Viennese Publishing House to write an
operetta, ‘The Swallow’; in the meantime the First World War was
approaching. The composer spent the years of the conflict, which he hated,
mostly in retreat at Torre del Lago. After the war he resumed his
achievements. Puccini's two greatest passions were cars (the first he bought
in 1902 and this was followed by another dozen) and houses. His last
masterpiece was the opera Turandot, which he started in 1920. The work was
very problematic and Puccini repeatedly thought about abandoning the
enterprise. The work had not yet been completed when he was diagnosed with
throat cancer, (for years he had complained of a sore throat). Puccini
underwent an innovative and experimental treatment of radiation therapy.
Puccini visited a specialist clinic in Brussels. He survived his operation
by only a few days and died on November 29, 1924. The unfinished Turandot
was staged for the first time in 1926 and since then is one of Puccini's
Torre del Lago was a place close to the composer’s heart. Ever since Giacomo
Puccini rented a small house at the Massaciuccoli Lake, the small town of
Viareggio has tied its name to that of the great composer. Villa Puccini
lies within the beautiful landscape of the Lake and is now a museum. The
composer’s house here is a rectangular building, lavishly decorated inside
and the birthplace of many of his works, which he wrote within the peaceful
tranquility of the lake. In the private chapel of the villa, Puccini was
buried, along with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. In summer, in the
nearby outdoor theatre, the Puccini Festival holds summer concerts.
Torre del Lago Puccini's Villa
Close to Puccini's heart was Celle dei Puccini, the ancestral land of the
great composer. Of interest is the museum containing memorabilia from
grandparents, family members and the musician himself. One last curiosity in
the museum in Palazzo Mansi is the beautiful portrait of Puccini by Luigi de
Servi in 1903.
Auberges de Jeunesse
Karte von Lucca
Map of Lucca
de la Toscane
Karte von Toskana
Map of Tuscany
Karte von Italien
Map of Italy