Opera in Italy is part of the cultural fibre, we have just stayed in our favourite Lucca villa rental called La Collina del Sole set in the midst of holiday Villas in Lucca hub and, as we love Opera al fresco we drove to Torre del Lago where Puccini the famous Italian composer had a summer residence, Before we rent a villa in Tuscany we consulted the blog of La Collina del Sole full of useful advice. The Festival Puccini is a most for opera lovers who are staying in a villa for rent in Tuscany, the festival is held in the Gran Teatro all’Aperto Giacomo Puccini, in Via delle Torbiere, 55048 Torre del Lago in the province of Lucca tel. (+39) 0584 359322 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Festival stage and auditorium in Torre del Lago were renovated a few years ago, we had seen La Bohéme in the weeks before the grand renovation was scheduled so we were very curious as to what changes we might find since we had visited villa rentals in Tuscany last. There are improvements, the auditorium building is much larger with a well- designed space underneath that houses interesting art exhibitions, a café where you can get a coffee a sandwich or pizza slice, another great improvement is a Tuscan fare buffet which needs to be booked before the performance either on the day or beforehand for €23, it includes unlimited wine and water the buffet consists of a rich variety of light Tuscan food like local cold meats and pecorino cheese of different flavours, pappa all pomodoro [a cold tomato soup made with bread which sounds weird and tastes amazing], faro, cold rice with asparagus and funghi porcini, mozzarella and tomato salad and fresh fruit, this is all served in the garden opposite the stage. If you are on a budget you can buy a ticket for the opera with as little as €19.50 and bring your own picnic to eat on tables set out or the grass, if you prefer doing things in style there is a fabulous restaurant on the waterfront called Chalet in the Piazzale Belvedere telephone # 0584 359830 they are well known for their fish themed food, the prices are reasonable considering it is the top dining spot in the area, it has the most wonderful views and merits a visit on its own without the rush of a performance about to start. It took us a little longer to arrive as the signposts to the venue have not improved in over a decade showing tantalizing sporadic signs that disappear in the middle of a roundabout, next time we will allow a good 2 rather than 1 ¼ hours to get there in order to drink in the gentle beauty of the festival grounds. This year marked the 60th Anniversary of the Festival Pucciniano with Tourandot, la Bohéme, and Madame Butterfly, we chose La Bohéme as it seemed fitting to revisit the venue with the same opera that we had last seen performed before the grand facelift and importantly this production boasted a set created by Ettore Scole a famous Italian film maker. The stage is much larger now which allows for spectacular sets, however the charming backdrop of the lake is mainly lost. The singing was excellent the set spectacular with clever effects. There were a few drops of light rain that stopped the performance twice, the last one in the death throes of Mimi, exactly as had happened to us a decade earlier where poor old Mimi had to nearly expire 3 times with light rain stopping the performance, it is rather unusual to see the heroine get up in fine health waving and smiling straight after a death throw song… three times, the reason given was also strangely familiar as the instruments are very susceptible to light drizzle, I did think that an opportunity was wasted in not creating a cover for the orchestra pit, mind you I suppose it all adds to the charm of living “Italian style” where time is of little consequence, where performances and audiences saunter elegantly in, fashionably late, and where you can have the most magical lake side walks in the interval and watch Italian opera for as little as €19.50 for further information visit www.puccinifestival.it
Have you felt right at home when travelling anywhere in the world? In Italy and in particular while enjoying Villa rental in Tuscany the secret is to communicate, and best done the Italian way while relaxing in Villas for rent in Tuscany get into the “mood” … chill out … think what you want to say and wave your hands in the air a lot while saying it, for example “ Where are the best Holiday villas in Lucca “ ? is best said waving both hands upwards and sideways as though you were encompassing the entire region of Lucca Villa Rental land, at La Collina del Sole they can organize Italian Lessons with a delightful fluent English speaking Italian girl called Alina who can show you the best gestures to accompany any comment you might like to share while you rent a villa in Tuscany or “Where can I enjoy Opera in Italy” best to go to Lucca and ask Dov'é la Chiesa san Giovanni? at around 6.30pm as they have a month long Italian Opera fest, which we explore further on, but first; here is a short list of useful expressions and suggested body language to really emphasize the point. Where is?... Dov'é Doh-vay Best to tilt you head a little sideways, if you have a photo of the church or museum you want to visit it is best to point to it at this point. When is it open? Quando apre? Kwan-doh Ah-preh When does it close? Quando chiude? Kwan-doh Key-you-day At what time... A che ora A Kay O-rah In all these instances point to your watch or your imaginary watch When do we eat? Quando mangiamo ? Kwan-doh Man-jia-moh Point to your wristwatch or where it should be and then purse your forefinger middle finger and thumb together and bring those fingers towards your mouth – A word of warning this hand signal can have aggressive connotations if used directed towards someone as it means “What do you think you are doing ! ! ! ! “ Yesterday ieri Ee-yair-ee Today oggi Oh-jee Tomorrow domani Doh-mahn-nee Day after tomorrow dopo domani Doh-poh Doh-mahn-nee Use your right arm and “bounce” it forwards for tomorrow or after tomorrow and backwards for yesterday, point to the ground for today.
If you love Italians, Music and mad waving in the air then I would suggest the Concerts and recitals during the Puccini Festival in Lucca. Tickets can be bought directly at the Chiesa San Giovanni in Lucca the performances start at 7 pm. You can pick what you like according to the day of the week Every Monday there is a Puccini and Mozart extravaganza with Arias and duets of these composers Every Tuesday “Puccini’s Women” performing arias and duets from the female characters in Puccini’s masterworks Every Wednesday a selection of arias and duets from Italian Operas by Puccini, Verdi, Mascagni, Donizetti and Rossini Every Thursday arias from works by Puccini and Verdi Every Friday Lucca concentrates on arias and duets purely by Puccini Every Saturday “ a Night at the Opera” with performances of major works from an Italian and International repertoire Every Sunday “Puccini and traditional Neapolitan songs ... Enjoy ! and disappear into the sunset waving your arms around singing “Oh Sooooooooole MIO”
Do you feel like a spot of Opera while you stay in La Colllina del Sole the top choice within Villas for rent in Tuscany ? We have discovered quite a few places which might delight you. From the little known and extremely cosy Opera in Vetriano, to the Arena in Verona.Vetriano is the smallest historical public theatre in the world at 71 sq. metres it’s first performance was in 1891. At present it is protected by FAI which stands for Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano which is the equivalent to the National Trust of Italy [ a private not for profit organization], it dedicates itself to protect elements of Italy's physical heritage which might otherwise be lost The "teatrino" in Vetriano was built in 1890, when an engineer called Biagini donated his barn to build a theatre at the time the town had a population of 400 people. This is not unusual, Italians have LOVED opera for centuries and most small towns had an Opera house. Two Opera house towns near La Colina del Sole the jewel among Holiday villas in Lucca are Barga and Castelnuovo both of whom have recently restored their “Teatros” and which were historically mainly used for Opera. The founding of Vetriano started when a village group of 18 people bankrolled its construction with a deposit of two lire up front and then fifty cents per month until the work was completed, Sounds like a pretty good deal to me ! and puts Glyndebourne debentures to shame. The "teatrino" became an important cultural center for the village, however after WW II, the theatre started to fall into disrepair, the Town Hall tried to do restructuring work in 1983 with little success. In 1997 the Biagini inheritors donated their share of ownership of the theatre to the FAI, and a year later, restructuring work was taken up again, the architect was Guglielmo Mozzoni and the "teatrino was officially reopened on the 28th September 2002. To find out what Operas are being performed you will have to contact FAI directly as there is a very small number of seats available, around 25 spectators allowed only.
As described earlier if you are staying at the beautiful La Collina del Sole the beauty among Villa rentals in Tuscany you could hop over to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana where if you are quick you can see La Traviatta by Giuseppe Verdi on Saturday 12 of May at 9pm at the Teatro Alfieri di Castelnuovo. Or another town near La Collina del Sole is Barga which has an Opera Festival during the month of July, performances take place in the late 18th Century theatre, Teatro dei Differenti which seats 289, The main artistic aim of the festival is to perform works from the Baroque era - in addition to operas by Vivaldi and other modern operas . Just over a month ago it was announced that the production featured at the “Opera Barga Festival 2012” will be the opera “Gli equivoci nel sembiante” by Alessandro Scarlatti composed in 1679. Do not be put off if the link to the Festival Opera Barga still has the productions for 2011 up, be persistent, call them and be patient … you are in Italy.
If you are both wanting to see World Class Opera and Rent a villa in Tuscany during the summer then we suggest you visit Torre del Lago, or go to the Arena of Verona, if you are visiting in October then see Parma for the Verdi Festival during the month of October .
So for world class Opera Closest to La Collina del Sole and if you would like to be assured of a place go to the Opera in Torre del Lago, which specializes in operas by Puccini, who is considered by some the father of Italian Opera, lived and composed many of his masterpieces in Torre del Lago. The Puccini Festival Opera 2012 season starts on the 20th July with Tosca and ends late in August. Alongside Tosca other operas showing are La Traviata, La Boheme and Madame Butterfly. We visited when the Opera was very much in the open air with light rain interrupting arias frequently which added a touch of difference to the experience, however the auditorium is now re-built and is much improved and very popular so if you are interested we recommend, you book early and you get there at least 3.5 hours before the performance to soak up the atmosphere and have a meal beforehand.
Next in distance is Parma where this year the 2012 Verdi Festival starts on the 1st of October and ends on the 28th they are showing Othello and La battaglia di Legnano . The festival is held in October as this is the month in which Verdi was born, in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza. THE most spectacular Opera experience has got to be the Arena di Verona. Verona is 4 hours drive North East from La Collina del Sole going through Parma. However the season starts in June and ends in early September so if you were hoping to catch both seasons it is impossible, you will just have to visit your favourite Holiday villas in Lucca for both seasons ! The Arena di Verona is most amazing venue for Opera as it is held in a funtioning Roman Colliseum in the centre of Verona with its yearly season one of the most impressive operas to see there is AIDA as they havemany live animals in the production including at times elephants ! Another well known site in Verona is “Juliet’s balcony” reputedly the balcony where the love struck couple Romeo and Juliet met in secret…. Romance ... Opera ... Italy it all fits perfectly together !