Allow? My name is Giacomo Puccini. My hometown: Lucca
Buon giorno, signore e signori! May I introduce myself? You might know my name. Or do you even know one of my works? Famous I was with my great operas – compositions: first with “La Boheme”, followed “Tosca”. After I was one of the first victims of automobile traffic, I was put out of action for a few months, but after my recovery I composed “Madame Butterfly”. This was followed by other works, my last opera “Turandot” I could no longer accomplish before I died … What connects me to my native town Lucca? Well, that is a different story …
Let me start to tell. On 22 December 1858 in a house at the Corte San Lorenzo in Lucca I saw the light of day. My family was very musical, already my great-grandfather was composer and organist, my grandfather composed orchestral works and piano pieces and my father was not only head of the Municipal Band of Lucca but (more importantly) the master organist of the Cathedral and wrote compositions for worship. Is it any wonder that I learned to play the piano at the tender age of 5 years and with 18 years composed my first symphonic prelude? Our long family history can also be seen on my behalf, moreover, the full is: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini. I carry all the names of my male ancestors to return to the name of my great-grandfather’s values, the name Maria has my father added for my protection .
Actually, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father, I was able to play shows in the cathedral repeatedly and wanted my father to follow as master organist. But I had, let’s say it this way, my differences with the local high society. Evil tongues even say in my youth I had repeatedly expanded organ pipes from the cathedral and sold to finance my cigarette consumption. Hmm, so if it were so, then my way of playing would actually have been a quality feature , because it took a long time nobody noticed the missing organ pipes, which suggests that I played so well with fewer pipes, so they noticed no difference. Others thought that I would change the Cathedral into a concert hall with my style of play and bring the modern world into the church, which was not compatible with conservative and elitist conceptions. So I was rejected as master organist of the cathedral …
In hindsight, probably not the worst decision for my further development. After I had attended in Pisa an opera production of Verdi’s “Aida” for the first time , I was so fascinated and impressed that my desire awoke to compose such works too. So I packed my belongings and returned my back to my hometown Lucca .
In Milan I was awarded a scholarship at the conservatory, I used from my audit work later parts of the beginning of my opera “La Boheme”. This was followed by many works that were taken very different, some were an immediate success, others needed a second attempt … My worst defeat was the first performance of “Madame Butterfly”, after a revision and the recent performance three months it was enthusiastically received.
My hometown Lucca I loved very much for my whole life and I visited it again and again to meet with old friends for coffee. Lucca didn’t return my affection for a long time, the local company didn’t recognize and appreciate my genius and I never moved back to Lucca.
So I lived in the southern Maremma in an ancient tower on the beach, which was named after me: Torre Puccini. Another house, actually a residence, I had in Torre del Lago, where I pulled back three years before my death. There I spent my last years, but my last great opera work, Turandot, regrettably I could not finish. Within a short time the laryngeal cancer grew and that I would die in Brussels at the hospital, I really had not expected. Fortunately, I left detailed instructions on how I imagined the future course of action of Turandot, and so my apt pupil Franco Altano was able to accomplish my great work for me.
The outpouring of grief after my death and tributes were very touching, in Milan Cathedral, a memorial service was held, and just imagine that the eulogy Benito Mussolini held personally! Especially moving was the premiere of “Turandot” in La Scala in Milan, my last great opera was performed by Toscanini in the unfinished version, he stopped the show and told the audience: “At this point the Maestro died”
Later, my hometown Lucca became aware that I was actually still a famous and important son of the city and erected in the square in front of my birthplace a bronze statue in my honor. Our previous family house became a museum. Oh, what a wonderful nostalgia! Even my piano on which I composed Turandot is exhibited there, including numerous music sheets from me, family photos, old mementos … I by myself was not even there, my beloved house in Torre del Lago was me and my wife’s final resting place, I wanted to be buried there where I felt most comfortable.
So I sit day after day as a bronze statue in Lucca before my former house, daily flow countless tourists up to me, touch me, take pictures, walk in my parents’ house around and keep me in this way still present. But actually I am immortal by my works, my compositions, my tune millions of people have touched, moved, enchanted and stirred. My operas are eternal, timeless, they were socially critical in my time and they still are…
I live on in the concert halls of the world, in the minds of people, in the opera houses, in the music devices. Those who want to experience my work in my hometown, I warmly recommend the duration Festival in Lucca “Puccini e la sua Lucca”. Throughout the year, daily at 19 o’clock a concert takes place in the Chiesa di San Giovanni. More information: Puccini e la sua Lucca Festival
All others I would like to give a little insight into my work, perhaps one or another melody is well known and you have your pleasure:
In this medley, which is available from “tmmvds” on Youtube, following concert clips are heard:
- Senza Mamma from Suor Angelica
- Che gelida manina from La Boheme
- E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
- Intermezzo from Nanon Lescaut
- O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
- Nessun Dorma from Turandot
If you want to know more about my wonderful, magical hometown Lucca, I can highly recommend this journey in your mind:
In this sense I hope I could bring you a little closer my relationship with Lucca and my life and work and want to say goodbye to you with a quote from me:
I feel the little things,
and only these I love to treat.
(Giacomo Puccini, 1858-1924, Italian composer, chief representative of Italian opera after Verdi)
Grazie e arrivederci! Good luck for your future!
Yes, that’s the way, travel also sounds like stories, music, festivals …
I’m glad you’re here! Thank you for reading!
What is your opinion about Puccini’s works? Do you know his operas? How you like them?
My next Audio Travel Story is the continuation of my stroll through Lucca, with new discoveries and wonderful views. It is just emerging: o)
I would be very happy if we back each other to hear / read! So see you soon!
I wish you many wonderful experiences, until the next Audio Travel Story by Travel sounds …