Bringing the Talent to you

Tuscan Talent’s summer course 2012,
A Taste of Tuscan Arts ended on a high note, with a visit to the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago to see a performance of Puccini’s opera, Tosca. This was the opening night, but any pre performance nerves were not evident in what was a truly magnificent production.
The Opening Night of the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago
The open- air theatre at Torre del Lago

Our first port of call was a visit to the nearby villa, now a museum, where Puccini lived for almost 30 years and where he wrote his most famous operas,
La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and Tosca.
Lucca’s favourite son loved the outdoors, and was very attracted to the area around lake Massaciuccoli at Torre del lago, eventually settling there in 1891 when he was 35 years old.
Interestingly, the piano he used was an ordinary upright and we were told that his friends would often sit in his armchairs listening to the sounds of the lake, which in those days would be lapping at the garden gate. Towards the end of our visit, Puccini’s granddaughter arrived and rather touchingly plucked a single red rose from the garden and placed it in a vase next to his Mausoleum.
Lago Massaciucolli, which Puccini called ‘paradise’
We booked a pre - performance dinner at the restaurant Chalet del Lago which overlooks the lake, and were able to sit outside on the terrace, taking in the wonderfully romantic setting whilst enjoying a delicious meal.
As we walked to the theatre along the edge of the lake, with the well - lit stage lighting up the pathway, the set of La Boheme, which was lined up, added to the spectacle.
The front of house was a large space, light and airy with plenty of facilities and friendly staff on duty. There were models of sets and past costumes on display.
We were impressed with some sculptures made entirely from petals and seeds, the artist on hand to explain his work and answer any questions.
The production of Tosca was impressive in its conception. The size of the auditorium, the stage with its natural magnificent backdrop of the lake and the set, all gave a feeling of grandeur, but the set was also practical in that it was used in all three Acts. We were fascinated to watch the scene changes, which involved a crane lifting pieces of scenery expertly supervised by stage - hands wearing hard hats.
The well-lit stage and in particular the huge flight of steps which were used very effectively to give added levels, especially in the last act, gave a strong and monumental sense of being set in Rome.
In a large open-air auditorium, the sound can often be a problem and I was half expecting this to be the case, but like everything else in this performance, it was excellent and any possible problems had obviously been ironed out.
The drama was put across well and drew the audience in so that anyone with no knowledge of the story would have a good idea of what was happening and would therefore be able to enjoy and feel involved in the performance.
The chorus and orchestra, also on a grand scale, filled the air with Puccini’s wonderful melodies, as did Oksana Dyka and Fabio Armiliato who gave superb performances as the two main protagonists, Tosca and Cavaradossi.
After this magical performance we walked to the car - park with the rest of the audience, where the local police supervised our exit and prevented what
would have otherwise been chaos!
A wonderful finale to our Tuscan Arts week!