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’.
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!