Gabriella Ravenni: I said before that Puccini was looking for perfection and one of the purposes he set himself was to communicate to the public: this does not mean, as many have thought, that he was aiming ‘for the box’.

Due to our presence in Lucca, the hometown of our great & beloved composer Giacomo Puccini, OPERA Charm Magazine wants to dedicate an enlarged part of our magazine to this composer & his beautiful lands. We will start this wonderful trip with a conversation with PhD. Gabriella Ravenni, Director of Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini, who will tell us so many interesting things about the personality of the composer we all love.

Gabriella Ravenni was a professor of Musicology at Parma University until 2017. She is also a founding member of the Giacomo Puccini Research Centre, of which she has been president since 2007. She is also a member of the scientific committee of the Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Giacomo Puccini, and is coordinator of the editorial committee for the Epistolario at the Edizione Nazionale. Between 1995 and 2014 she was director of the Giacomo Puccini House Museum in Lucca. She was also a founding member of the Luigi Boccherini Research Centre (2005) and was its Vice President from its founding until 2015 as well as being a member of its scientific committee since 2005. She is a member of the Lucca Academy of Science, Literature and Art. Gabriella is also an author and editor in various journals, and has published numerous essays in national and international journals. She has contributed to italian and international dictionaries, and regularly creates and curates exhibitions and conferences. In 2015 she won the Illica prize for Giacomo Puccini. Epistolario. I. 1877-1896, edited by herself and Dieter Schickling (Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Giacomo Puccini), Firenze, Leo S. Olschki, 2015. Amongst notable publications: Tosca di Victorien Sardou, Giuseppe Giacosa e Luigi Illica. Musica di Giacomo Puccini, vol. I: Facsimile della Copia di lavoro del libretto; vol. II: Edizione e commento, Firenze, Leo S. Olschki, 2008-2009; Giacomo Puccini. Epistolario. II. 1897-1901, a cura di Gabriella Biagi Ravenni e Dieter Schickling (Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Giacomo Puccini), Firenze, Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2018.

The Giacomo Puccini Studies Centre (CSGP) is a free non-profit cultural institution aimed at connecting leading experts on and enthusiasts of Giacomo Puccini to his persona and work in his hometown, Lucca, where it was founded in 1996. Since 30 May 2010 it has been a recognised legal entity. It is a research institute with an international research committee that carries out and promotes research on Giacomo Puccini and his works, on their links with the music and opera of their time, and on the cultural and material contexts in which the musician lived and worked. It is a documentation hub that makes the texts, documents and sound and iconographic sources relating to Giacomo Puccini as a man and musician accessible to everyone – enthusiasts, musicians and scholars alike. The Centre is a global reference point for all sorts of activities relating to the composer, both research and cultural dissemination, as well as for consultations on the realisation of performances and events by theatres and public and private bodies . The establishment of the National Edition of Giacomo Puccini’s Operas (ENOGP) by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in 2007 is the most prestigious recognition of his work for the CSGP. Since 2007 some of the projects (the Epistolary Project, Mises en scène Project) that over the years had already been initiated and carried out by the CSGP, have been included in the editorial activity of the ENOGP, to which the CSGP provides collaboration and support. The Giacomo Puccini Study Centre became a full member of the AICI (Association of Italian Cultural Institutions) in November 2019. The Centre’s Archive contains the copies of around 10,000 documents (analogue and digital). These include: letters from the composer, letters addressed to him, autographed musical sources, photographs with autographed dedications, musical autographs with autographed dedication, libretto drafts, idea drafts, figurines, stage photos and postcards of Puccini characters. Of particular note are copies of Puccini’s letters kept in the Illica Fund of the Passerini-Landi Municipal Library in Piacenza and all Puccini’s documentation (letters and libretto sketches) kept at Casa Giacosa by Giuseppe Giacosa’s descendants. The reproductions are filed by the institutions to which they belong, including public archives and libraries and numerous private collections. The Giacomo Puccini Study Centre Library is open to academics and enthusiasts. It contains almost all publications on Puccini produced in the world, a wide range of titles on his general historical and artistic context, as well as contemporary literary and musical journals. It also includes the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, the Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana, the Dizionario Universale dei Musicisti (Schmidl), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the colour facsimile of the original Tosca score. The library creation was made possible in 1997 by Sergio Bigongiari’s incredible generosity and forward-thinking cultural mindset, granting his Puccini collection on free loan. By doing so he made a fundamental and irreplaceable contribution to the research activities of the early Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini and to relations with all kinds of users. The Sergio Bigongiari Fund was increased over the years and the concession was renewed in 2016 by his heirs, Livia Simonetti, Simonetta and Veronica Bigongiari.

Doctor Ravenni, we are deeply honoured to be able to interview you for this dedication completely dedicated to Giacomo Puccini, here in our 3rd edition this year of OPERA Charm Magazine! Considering the indepth research you have contributed to this particular topic, it’s quite obvious that you know Puccini better than most of your contemporaries. My first question is: do you remember your first impression and feelings when you first came across Puccini’s music?

Yes, definitely. I was a child and went to see Tosca at the Giglio Theatre with my best friend and accompanied by her father. IT was the first time I’d seen an opera and the first time i’d been to the theatre. We were so completely enthralled that reciting and humming some of the key moments became our favourite pastime. I spoke about it with my grandmother (born in 1878) and she told me that in the summer of 1898, she and her family could hear Puccini playing his piano in the evening and at night. Their house was very close to Villa Mansi di Monsagrati where Puccini was staying to work that summer. She recognised the music when her father, my great-grandfather, took the whole family to the Giglio Theatre in September 1900, to the Lucca premiere of Tosca.

Read the entire interview & many other interesting articles here, in the 3rd/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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