After working as the Conservative MP for Putney from 1979 to 1997, including a spell as Culture Secretary, David, above, has settled into a career in classical music. He spent seven years with Radio 3, and has been broadcasting with Classic FM for 15 years, hosting a popular Sunday show and other projects. He has been The Mail on Sunday's classical music critic for almost two decades.
The Puccini Festival 2021 with David Mellor
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The Puccini Opera Festival is held every summer in the delightful Tuscan town of Lucca, where the great Italian composer was born. The stunning lakeside theatre at Torre del Lago is among the world's best settings for opera, and on this exclusive five-day tour you will be joined by the perfect person to bring Puccini alive: The Mail on Sunday's inimitable classical music critic David Mellor.
During your holiday, you will walk in Puccini's footsteps and discover many of the places that inspired the composer, including his beloved summer villa and ancestral home. You will have Category 1 tickets to see rousing performances of two of Puccini's greatest operas - Tosca and Madame Butterfly - in Torre del Lago and also enjoy three very special meals, one at the Michelin-starred Romano in Viareggio, a superb 50-year-old restaurant that is an Italian institution.
"Giacomo Puccini is rightly seen as one of the real opera greats. A genius of straight-forward tastes, he wrote sparingly, producing an opera every four years or so. As a consequence, all are beautifully wrought, pack an emotional punch and do not outstay their welcome.
"The chance to hear Puccini in what was his home and his inspiration is too good to miss. Unlike most great composers, he actually lived in that place for almost his entire adult life. I have always enjoyed my visits to Torre del Lago and I can't wait for the opportunity to help you discover its magic."
- David Mellor
Opera by the lake
The story of Puccini
Meet David Mellor
Celle dei Puccini
Your expert guides
- Scheduled return flights from London to Pisa (other regional airports available on request, some at extra cost).
- Four nights' bed-and-breakfast at the four-star Hotel Palazzo Alexander.
- Lunches and dinners as detailed in the itinerary online, including a meal at Michelin-starred Ristorante Romano.
- Two tours and talk with the director of the Puccini Foundation.
- Two exclusive talks and special events with David Mellor.
- All other visits as outlined in itinerary.
- Comfortable coach transfers.
- Tour manager and guide throughout.
- Category 1 tickets to Tosca and Madame Butterfly.
- Opera programme.
Day1Flight to ItalyPisa, Italy
Catch an outbound flight to Pisa from London. Upon arrival, transfer to Lucca, a charming Tuscan town with cobbled streets and lovely piazzas. Your overnight stay and dinner this evening will be at the Hotel Palazzo Alexander.
Day2Puccini's birthplace and operaLucca, Italy
Today we get introduced to Puccini with a visit to Puccini's birthplace and museum. Here guests will view original documents, personal artefacts, original furnishings and paintings. We proceed to the Institute of Musical Studies "Luigi Boccherini", to the Church of S. Paolino e Donato and briefly to the Teatro del Giglio. After lunch, we will be treated to a talk by the Director of the Fondazione Giacomo Puccini on the great man's life and his heritage. The Puccini Foundation director will also give a guided tour of the Foundation. After some free time, we have an introductory lecture and dine on a boat on Torre del Lago before attending a rousing performance of Tosca in the evening.
Day3Lucca and Torre del LagoLucca, Italy
We enter into the world of Puccini this morning with a guided tour of Lucca, including the spectacular Cathedral of St Martin, where Puccini's ancestors were maestri di cappella for 124 years in succession. We continue to the Cathedral Museum and Baptistery of Santi Giovanni e Reparata, as well as to Piazza Anfiteatro shaped by the erstwhile Roman amphitheatre. After lunch, we see Puccini's house in Viareggio, where the director will especially open the villa and give us a guided tour. We'll have some free time in this fashionable seaside town before ending the day with a special Michelin-starred dinner with David Mellor at Romano in Viareggio.
Day4Celle dei Puccini and operaLucca, Italy
This morning we visit the Celle dei Puccini and its museum. Housed within the home of Giacomo Puccini's ancestors, this elegant 16th century mansion not only showcases a typical Italian country house complete with its furniture, farm tools and everyday objects, but it also exhibits some of Puccini's personal belongings, which were donated by his own nephews. Afterwards, we eat lunch at the nearby Ristorante Puccini, where delicious regional fare is served. Following our meal, we return to Lucca for an afternoon of leisure time. Following a lecture on Puccini, we visit his wonderful lake side summer villa at Torre del Lago before the second opera performance, this time of Madame Butterfly.
Day5Walking tour of Lucca and fly to UKPisa, Italy
After free time in the morning in beautiful Lucca, we make our way to the airport for our transfer home.
Hotel Palazzo Alexander
Historic building with classic interiors
Hotel Palazzo Alexander is a historic building in the centre of Lucca, located just inside Lucca's historic walls, with easy access from Porta San Donato. Lucca Cathedral and Guinigi Tower are both just a 10-minute walk away. Antique wooden floors and marble bathrooms invite you to this classical setting, where staff are multilingual. Rooms feature Wi-Fi and air conditioning. Fresh local produce is served for breakfast, American buffet-style and there's a bar for evening drinks.
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