Early New Year Hours in Lucca

New Year’s Eve is still a time to celebrate and feel safe in Lucca – especially when Andrea Colombini’s grand gala concert is on at the Teatro Del Giglio.

With absolutely no parking problems and with streets mercifully free from what the Italians call ‘gli ordini della sicurezza’, we entered into a Piazza Napoleone nicely lit up and still above freezing temperatures.

The evening opened at 9 pm with a screening of the video of the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra concert at the Musikverein in Vienna on 19th December which was, again, a great success for the  orchestra under Colombini’s baton and a great publicity boost for the city of Lucca itself.(We attended last year’s concert in Vienna: see our post at on it at


There was then a grand operatic gala with melodies and arias from opera, theatre and musicals with by Puccini, Catalani, Verdi, Bizet, Mozart, Morricone, Bernstein and Lloyd Webber. Singers were sopranos Silvia Pacini, Silvana Froli, Paola Grandicelli and Clara Polito, together with mezzo soprano Isabella Messina and tenor Michael Alfonsi, with Diego Fiorini piano all absolutely excellent.

Veering towards midnight Lucca’s own Three Tenors, Nicola Mugnaini, Simone Frediani and Mattia Nebbiai, accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lucca conducted by Andrea Colombini gave of their stunning vocal best. The program included music by Puccini, Verdi, Leoncavallo and Di Capua interspersed with waltzes and marches of the Strauss family including a delightful ‘peasant’s polka’.

Miraculously, an unpublicised bagpiper of the Scots Guards suddenly appeared on stage and, after playing a reel, joined the orchestra and the three tenors in a truly moving rendering of Bocelli’s classic hit ‘Time to say Goodbye’.

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The only bad note of the evening was sounded by the so-called buffet prepared by a local restaurant in Lucca. Luckily, Colombini managed, with his mythical dexterity, to avoid a quasi-riot and profusely apologised for the situation.

We did, anyway, get our bubbly and pandoro in time for the midnight chimes which is the important thing!

And when we exited the theatre at three in the morning, in a mercifully largely botti-free environment (those loud bangers that Italians love to explode, much to their personal harm, at this night of the year) all seemed forgotten – as one member of the audience vociferously called out ‘We’ve come just for you ’. So music truly turned out in the end to be the genuine food of love!






4 thoughts on “Early New Year Hours in Lucca

  1. What a delightful evening. I have to admit we have in the past been over for the week after christmas including new years eve, but until we started reading your blog had no idea about the musical delights on offer in Lucca. What happened re the buffet?

  2. This letter from a dear friend I shall leave anonimous but it is certainly closer to the grain of the buffet evening than my restrained account above (the excellence of the musical part of the evening, of course, remains without criticism)

    Hi Francis,

    I read your admirably restrained blog about the capo d’anno concert in Lucca. I was looking around for you but didn’t see you anywhere. It’s thanks to you of course that I even knew about it! I was there with two friends who have a house here in ….. (but don’t live here all year round).We were in the stalls so never went beyond the entrance foyer. I don’t know if things were any better where you were, presumably upstairs

    Anyway, I take my hat off to Andrea Colombini for a master performance in cajoling and nursing the audience back to good humour. I couldn’t believe my ears when all the booing and hissing greeted the performers when they first came on stage, or the drowning out of Colombini on his first attempt to sow peace. I was amazed at the naked greed and self-interest displayed by the great and good of Lucca whenever a scarce bottle of fizz happened to pass by, or a plate of panettone. It was of course a complete shambles, the buffet and the pre-midnight drink and cake, but that they should allow it to take precedence over the music and goodwill that one expects among people gathered to bring in the New Year together…. And that brings me to the moment of New Year itself. We were wondering when the coordinated countdown would begin and realised with growing amazement that there wasn’t going to be. We looked at our phones which registered the same time, and when 00.00 came up we three embraced and kissed each other, and then noticed a second later that the 5 people standing near us had started their own countdown and wished each other a Happy New Year without so much as a glance in our direction. And so it was in the whole jam packed foyer – nobody giving a cuss about anyone outside their own group. I tried to catch the eye of one or two but to no avail.

    It was so crazy that we just had to marvel and laugh, rather than be upset, and think how we would remember the occasion for ever after. Is this the famous Lucchesi character?

    Cheers, and a hug and kiss to you both for a Happy New Year!


    • You could’nt help but enjoy the music; what you’ve described pretty much encapsulates everything I would want to hear on New Years Eve in Lucca. I am a bit surprised that people who enjoy great food as a birthright would be bothered about a bit of passing free fizz and panettone? Curious.

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