Torre del Lago, the lakeside music venue in Tuscany next to the house where Puccini spent the end of his life, has been completely transformed in an €18m rebuild that has already invited comparisons with Bayreuth.
The new theatre opened last night with a concert of arias from Edgar, Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Suor Angelica and Turandot featuring the La Scala Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly. Personalities from the music and entertainment world attended including Mirella Freni and actress Stefania Sandrelli.
Those used to the old, rather makeshift teatro all’aperto will be surprised by this imposing new structure by architect Franco Allegretti based on an idea by Italo Insolera, which preserves the same open-air layout.
The orchestra pit has been completely rebuilt in wood, occupying an area of 168 square metres. The main stage is of 660 square metres while the backstage area occupies 400 square metres and is fitted with equipment to facilitate easier scene changes.
The most striking change has been the construction of a grand foyer as well as a 500-seat auditorium, changing rooms, workspace and rehearsal areas.
The rebuild may yet allow Torre del Lago to recast its image from something of a tourist venue into a more important European stage. Artistic director of the Festival Puccini, Alberto Veronesi, told Italian paper Il Giorno the new theatre would allow Torre del Lago to become the “Salzburg of the south”.
Though rain threatened, the opening of the 54th Festival stayed dry and was enjoyed by a capacity audience of 3370. Chailly commented in Italy’s Corriere della Sera that the rebuilding was “a complete rarity in Italy, where theatres and orchestras alike are disappearing”. Gramophone