By David Orr – Writer
Few opera composers can match the work of the great Giacomo Puccini, and each year the Puccini Festival produces world-class opera in the picturesque town of Torre Del Lago, an hour and fifteen minutes from Florence by car, or 30 minutes from Puccini’s birth-town, Lucca. This year festival takes place from July 24th to August 29th, and showcases four of Puccini’s operas: Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, and Il Trittico. Held at the open-air Gran Teatro All’Aperto, seating 3,400 with stunning Massaciuccoli Lake as a backdrop, the setting is a fitting location for Puccini’s finest work. Steps away from the theater is the house where Puccini bunkered down and composed most of his main operas, enabling one to truly be in the presence of greatness and the creative spirit of the town. Tosca is showing five times from July 24 to August 30th, and represents Puccini’s first delve into verismo, depicting gritty real-life rather than the average god, mythical creature, or king/queen conflict. Turandot has five shows from July 25th to August 28th. Unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death, each of the five performances have a different ending, meaning a true opera aficionado can see all five and debate whether Alfano’s was truly the best. Madama Butterfly, one of Puccini’s most-performed operas, has five shows from August 1st to 29th. The great characters Cio-Cio San and B. F. Pinkerton come to life by some of the most revered opera performers in the world, including Svetla Vassileva as Cio-Cio San. Il Trittico has a single show on August 20th. Trittico, or triptych, is actually three one-act operas in one – Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi. The final act is based on Dante’s epic Divine Comedy.
Tosca: July 24, 31, Aug. 15, 21, 30
Turandot: July 25, Aug. 7, 16, 23, 28
Aug. 1, 8, 14, 22, 29
Il Trittico: Aug. 20
You can also visit their website at www.puccinifestival.it