As a woman, Cultural Assessor Mia Pisano is proud that a woman, Orchestra Director Beatrice Venezi, was the first to take the Summer Music Festival stage at Lucca’s inauguration of its Puccini Festival in Piazza Napoleone, Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 21:15.  

As a Lucchese, Pisano is even more proud that Venezi is a native Lucchese just as she is. Born in 1990, Venezi has impressed audiences and critics around the world, giving her rock-star status among classical music fans and making her appropriately qualified to follow in Giacomo Puccini’s footsteps as the city’s cultural ambassador to the world.  The Festival is featuring a series of concerts and events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the maestro’s death, including a free event Sunday, July 16, 2023, at the Grand Puccini Theatre of Torre del Lago. CLICK to READ STORY

Venezi led the Carlo Felice Theater Orchestra of Genova, with soprano Carmen Giannattasio, tenor Marco Berti and baritone Massimo Cavalletti, another internationally acclaimed Lucchese, performing beautiful arias and duets written by Maestro Giacomo Puccini. The concert began with the Italian national anthem, the “Hymn of Mameli” and ended with a seldom performed, patriotic piece written by Puccini in 1918 to honor the end of World War 1: the “Hymn to Rome”. While some on the Festival Committee had asked Venezi not to perform the last piece, Venezi explained to the audience that she would not be censured, just as she was sure Puccini would never tolerate being censured. The concert received a long standing ovation.  

Other pieces featured included:

  • a Symphonic Capriccio (including parts from Tosca sung by Cavaradossi, Tosca e Scarpia, such as “Vissi d’arte” and “E lucevan le stelle”); 
  • the intermezzos from Manon Lescaut and Madama Butterfly
  • selections from Tabarro, including “Nulla! Silenzio…”; the intermezzo from Da Suor Angelica
  • “O mio babbino caro” and “Era uguale la voce?… Ah, vittoria, vittoria!” from Gianni Schicchi
  • and “La tregenda” from Le Villi.

As of Friday, July 7th, tickets for all 4,000 of the available seats had been given away to patrons the same day they were made available. Mimmo D’Alessandro, Director of the Summer Music Festival said they would add more seats and standing room capacity as requested by the Puccini Festival Committee. In the end, over 5,000 attended the concert, often singing along with the performers and ending it with an enthusiastic standing ovation.

The Pardini administration hopes this will be yet another step toward raising Lucca’s visibility as a cultural capital. 

Images from the Festival rehearsal and performance follow…

Above: Director Beatrice Venezi explains that they will perform Puccini’s “Hymn to Rome” written in 1918 to honor the armistice, commenting that neither she nor he would bow to censorship of the arts. Left: Alberto Veronesi, Director of the Puccini Festival Committee, introduces Director Beatrice Venezi on the Summer Music Festival Stage, along with Lucca Mayor Mario Pardini.

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