Two Great Summer Music Festivals


In Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, courtiers Ping, Pong and Pang, fed up with artificial palace life, nostalgically recall their homes by a blue lake surrounded by bamboo groves:

E potrei tornar laggiù, presso mio laghetto blu, tutto cinto di bambù!

Hearing this at the open-air theatre at Torre Del Lago’s festival is a sublime experience: words and music paint the view we have before us – the placid (now reed-fringed) lake, the mysterious night sky, and the contours of the Apuans on the horizon.

Turandot is back this year together with Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and Il Trittico!

In an article on Puccini’s unfinished Turandot in April’s LuccaMusica – the essential free guide to Lucca’s music scene (includes an English version) – eminent Puccini expert, Michele Bianchi, states that Puccini didn’t complete the opera not because he fell ill but because he was still dissatisfied with the libretto’s final denouement. Nevertheless, the fairy tale, where Turandot’s suitors meet a sticky end if they cannot solve the ice-princess’s three riddles, contains Puccini’s greatest music, and the Alfano ending is certainly a “lesser evil”.

Full programme details are at the festival’s web site at:

It’s a good idea to make an afternoon at Torre Del Lago:  include a swim at the nearby beach, visit the composer’s residence, delight in the foyer’s flower carpet and enjoy a nice meal before the 9.00 pm start.

Maureen Halson is well-known for her sculpture, combining a long experience in the UK ceramics industry with delicate creativity. (She will exhibit again in this year’s second Bagni di Lucca Arts Festival). Her Turandot and Madama Butterfly figurines, coincidentally two Puccini operas featured this year, are especially perceptive.

It would be lovely if an arrangement could be made with the festival for these figurines to be produced for the public…




Lucca’s fabulous summer festival will be with us again from 2nd to 26th July.

Full line-up details are at

Artistes include Eagles, Jeff Beck, The Prodigy, Emma, Nile Rodgers, Panariello, Stevie Wonder, Backstreet Boys, The National with Cat Power and Enzo Avitabile & Black Tarantella.

Wow.. What a line up. I’ve already decided who I particularly want to see.

As someone who heard Jimi Hendrix live and attended the Cream’s last concert I’ve had mixed feelings about subsequent pop and rock festivals. Since living in Lucca province, however, my interests have re-awakened and I’ve been glad to hear such great artists as Elton John, Liza Minnelli and Leonard Cohen.

Forget the mud, high prices and poor catering of English pop festivals; Lucca’s summer festival (it also had a great winter festival) is set in the civilized setting of Piazza Grande, has places at all (affordable) prices and, best of all, attracts an audience of every age and interest.

Organised by entrepreneurs D’Alessandro e Galli, (Web site at I look forwards this year to the musical contrasts offered, the convivial atmosphere and the historic setting.

It’s not just the audience that love the festival: it’s the artistes, many of whom return since 1998 when it began. Jeff Beck returns from 2010 and Elton John has already performed three times. It seems artistes fall in love with Lucca (no surprise) and I’m sure several new to this year’s festival, will return.

My only regret is that Amy Winehouse, scheduled for 2011, did not live long enough to sing at Lucca. I’m sure that if she had she would have fallen in love with the place and, perhaps, still be with us today…

Long may the Lucca Summer Festival continue to bring us performers of the widest appeal and highest performance standard. It’s truly another jewel in this remarkable city’s crown.







2 thoughts on “Two Great Summer Music Festivals

  1. I love the Madame Butterfly figurines they are very beautiful indeed! Thanks once more Francis for keeping us up to date and informed on the musical events in the area. I always look forward to the Puccini Festival as well as to the Lucca Summer Music Festival most enjoyable indeed!

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