I’m not alone. On my regular jaunts to the Puccini Festival I see lots of familiar faces who return year after year for the emotional rollercoaster of La Boheme or Tosca at a romantic open-air lakeside theatre in Tuscany.
I’m off again later in August. I can’t resist a dip in the sea off the sandy beaches of the Versilian coast, wandering through the atmospheric medieval streets of Giacomo Puccini’s hometown of Lucca – and then tucking in to lashings of lovely Italian food and wine and opera in the evening.
Italians of all ages love their opera – and there’s a wonderful, relaxed and unstuffy atmosphere at the Torre del Lago theatre which appeals to the aficionado and first-timer alike.
The Puccini Festival (http://www.puccinifestival.it/) runs until the end of August and this year promises its usual colourful renditions of Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Turandot and Il Trittico.
To my mind there’s nothing quite like enjoying all this under the stars in Italy, whether in Torre del Lago, the Roman amphitheatre at Verona, or any number of other historic venues. But if you’ve an ear for a good tune and are looking for an event nearer home this summer, there is a good choice of popular opera and classical music festivals to choose from.
One of the grandest is Glyndebourne (www.glyndebourne.com), set in the East Sussex countryside, which is staging opera by Verdi, Mozart and Handel (to August 24). The Edinburgh International Festival (www.eif.co.uk) is one of the biggest events, featuring opera and classical music concerts, plus dance, theatre and visual arts (to August 31).
Aldeburgh, on the East Coast, is staging its annual Snape Proms at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall (www.aldeburgh.co.uk).
There’s jazz and comedy along with classical recitals (to August 31). Those wishing to make a break of it at a decent and rather arty boutique hotel might consider a stay at Salthouse Harbour in Ipswich, a pleasant 45-minute drive away through the Suffolk countryside.
On a smaller scale and rather later (September 12-28), Rye Arts Festival (www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk) includes Verdi’s opera La Traviata. Handy for everything is Rye Lodge hotel, in the charming historic Cinque Port of Rye itself.