Puccini statue in Lucca
View of Lucca
Join the 2024 Puccini Festival set in the beautiful lakeside village of Torre del Lago
Enjoy performances of three of the composer’s most beloved works: La Bohème, Turandot and Tosca
Walk in the composer’s footsteps with a visit to the Villa Museo Puccini, where he once lived
“As someone not acquainted with opera, Sandy’s lectures made the operas at the festival accessible to me… It was, overall, an excellent experience”
- ACE customer on the 2023 Lucca Puccini Festival tour led by Sandy Burnett
"Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements" – Giacomo Puccini
Born in 1858 in Lucca – “the most fly-in-amber little town in the world” according to Hilaire Belloc – it was in the nearby lakeside village of Torre del Lago that Giacomo Puccini composed Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and Tosca, among other famous works. Today, the picturesque Tuscan village lies at the heart of the annual Puccini Opera Festival, one of the most famous classical music events in the world.
Even before the birth of Puccini, Lucca had enjoyed a vibrant musical history: the 18th century composers Francesco Geminiani and Luigi Boccherini were born within the famous city walls. Puccini was a choirboy in the cathedral, played the organ in the Church of San Michele and studied at the Pacini School of Music. Yet it was only when he ventured to nearby Torre del Lago, a quiet Tuscan hamlet sandwiched between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, that he declared “This is paradise!” The composer settled in Torre in 1891 and bought a country estate there at the turn of the century – now the Villa Museo Puccini.
Close by is Torre’s grand open-air theatre, inaugurated in 2008 and the perfect setting for an opera festival dedicated to Puccini’s life and works. It is here, on the banks of Lake Massaciuccoli, that we will attend three festival performances: La Bohème, Tosca and Turandot – all firm favourites among the composer’s repertoire. Containing one of the most enduring arias in the operatic canon, ‘Nessun Dorma’, the historical epic Turandot is by turns monumental and confounding, full of powerful orchestral moments. Also featuring some of Puccini’s most recognisable music as well as atmospheric choral scenes, La Bohème’s tale of love, friendship and eventual heartbreak will make for a moving opening performance; while the romance, political conflicts and moral quandaries at the heart of Tosca, set in Rome in 1800, will round our tour off in thrilling style.
Alongside the music, our tour will immerse us in the area’s captivating architecture and engaging history. We will visit the Villa Guinigi, a rare survivor among 15th century Gothic villas, and examine the elegant architecture of the Villa Torrigiani, Camigliano; as well as Lucca’s Romanesque Cathedral of San Martino, where Puccini played the organ. At Torre del Lago, we hope to stop at the Villa Museo Puccini, where Puccini once lived, and enjoy a boat tour on the lake.
We stay in the heart of Lucca at the stylish and historical Grand Universe Hotel.
We are pleased to be staying at the four-star Grand Universe Lucca, one of the city’s most prestigious hotels. Dating from the mid 19th century – but with a history stretching back to 1700 – the hotel is situated on Piazza del Giglio and Piazza Napoleone, and possesses a wonderful combination of charm, history and elegance. Famous guests are said to have included John Ruskin, Pietro Mascagni and Puccini himself. Appropriately for our tour, all rooms are categorised according to musical terms – from allegro to vivace!
This tour will be led by Sandy Burnett, MA, a musician and broadcaster who spent a decade as one of the core team of presenters on BBC Radio 3, during which time he interviewed many of the world’s finest musicians. Conducting credits have included a complete cycle of Bach cantatas as well as work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre and in London’s West End where he spent many years as musical director. Sandy is very much looking forward to accompanying an ACE group to the acclaimed Lucca Puccini Festival in 2024.
Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, performances as described, four breakfasts, four dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £450.