I Concerti degli Angeli Custodi

 (The Concerts of the Guardian Angels)

The seasonal concerts held at the Oratory of the Guardian Angels in Lucca are one of its several well-kept musical secrets. Sadly, the average holiday tourist will not always have the chance to attend these concerts unless they stumble across the Oratory (often whilst lost amongst the many small streets in the centre of the city) and they spot the limited advertising outside its old but unprepossessing front door. Should they enter in through the often open door of the Oratory they will be met by the intimacy and beauty of the interior with its frescoes, paintings and great acoustics.

The Istituto Musicale Baralli (Musical Institute of Raffaello Baralli) are in their fourth season of concerts to be held at the Oratory as well as other groups such as LuccaOperaFestival. Raffaello Baralli was born in 1862 in Camigliano, still a small village located in the beautiful hills of Lucca surrounded by many historic villas such as Villa Torrigiani. Baralli became an ordained priest in 1884 aged 22 and is particularly noted for his work on canto gregoriano (Gregorian chant).

Other concerts are held there are to help and promote young singers such as the Accademia Vocale ‘Lorenzo Malfatti’ who this year in July were a group of twenty-one students from America and Italy that gave three other performances in and around Lucca: at the Orto Botanico; at Celle dei Puccini and in Piazza Cittadella. Although born in Pittsburgh, USA in 1923, Malfatti’s parents were Italian immigrants from Lucca and his legacy retains this connection. He was an internationally renowned baritone and opera coach and founded the Accademia in Lucca in 1968. Students receive not only voice training but direct experience of Italian culture and its rich musical heritage. Malfatti, who died in Pittsburgh in 2007, helped to establish the Opera Barga Festival near Lucca and also prepared leading singers for their debut performances at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden through the Accademia Vocale in Lucca.

A friend at LuccaOperaFestival, Mattia Campetti holds a key to the Oratory and is in constant dialogue with the Church that own the premises and with the Commune that can support cultural initiatives. Much work needs to be done to develop the location and make improvements to the rooms that surround the main interior. This according to Mattia will be a long process and will become a project that will hopefully mean many more delightful evenings listening to the wonderful music there.

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