Puccini spent a few weeks there in the summer of 1886, from August to November
of 1888, then in the summer of 1889, and again from July to November of 1890
and in the summer of 1892. During this last visit, in close proximity, there
was also present Leonvacallo, who was composing "I Pagliacci," and this
colleague came to Puccini's aid writing a few verses for the libretto of "Manon
Lescaut" on which Puccini was working. (from the "Dizionario Pucciniano" by Eduardo Rescigno (Milan: Ricordi,
2004, s.v. "Vacallo")
While both composers were staying in Vacallo, Leoncavallo surprised Puccini by
drawing a clown and hanging it in front of his home, where Puccini could see
it, to show he was working on "Pagliacci". Puccini responded by drawing a
large hand ("Manone" in Italian) to let the double-beast ("Leoncavallo" or
Lion-Horse) know he was working on "Manon Lescaut."
A plaque on the wall states:
"Sottratta al piccone demolitore in virt¨ di decreto del Consiglio di Stato
della Repubblica e Canton Ticino che ha intelligentemente accolto le istanze
dell'Istituto di Studi Pucciniani dell'Associazione Musica nel Mendrisiotto
de'associazione Ricerche Musicali nella Svizzera Italiana e d'innumerevoli
cittadini questa casa Ŕ affidata alle cure delle autoritÓ e della popolazione
di Vacallo atteso che lungo taluni periodi degli anni 1889-92 fu dimora di
Giacomo Puccini venuto a soggiornarsi ispirarsi e comporre parti essenziali di
"Saved from demolition by virtue of a decree of State Council of the Republic
and Canton Ticino, who intelligently welcomed the petitions of the Institute
for Puccini Studies, of the Association of Music in the Mendrisiotto, of the
Association of Musical Research of Italian Switzerland and of innumerable
citizens, this house is entrusted to the care of the authorities and of the
population of Vacallo, because for some long periods of time, from 1889-92, it
was the residence of Giacomo Puccini, who came to stay, to be inspired, and to
compose essential parts of 'Manon Lescaut'."
Deborah Burton, who lived in the Casa Puccini in the early 1990's, was honored
with this reproduction of the original Tosca poster (depicting Sarah Bernhardt) in July, 2007
The artist, Christoph Helmlin, and Deborah Burton, with the composer's granddaughter, Simonetta Puccini and the owner of the Casa Puccini, Camillo Ceppi
Many thanks go to the generous benefactor, Camillo Ceppi, along with his wife Jeannette, who
have helped preserve this beautiful house, have commissioned the paintings, and have generously devoted much time and effort to promoting
the memory of Puccini in this place.
Please note: The Casa Puccini at Vacallo is currently serving as a private residence. Please respect
the privacy of the occupants.
Information on Puccini's other houses is provided by the
Associazone Amici delle Case di Giacomo Puccini.
More about the artist Christoph Helmlin can be found on his web page, http://www.helmlin.ch.