New film adds to intrigue of Puccini love life

Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:45am EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - A new film on Giacomo Puccini has uncovered letters and documents suggesting the composer may have a second living descendant, in a tangled tale of infidelity and vengeance befitting one of his operas.

"Puccini e la Fanciulla" (Puccini and the Girl), which premieres at the Venice film festival on Friday, has already attracted the ire of Simonetta Puccini, the composer's only known living heir until now.

Thirty years ago Simonetta won a legal battle to prove she was the illegitimate daughter of Puccini's son Antonio, and she has inherited most of the maestro's estate.

Now another woman, Nadia Manfredi, suspects she too could be Puccini's grand-daughter, and has asked for a DNA test to find out the truth.

The film brings to the screen the story of Doria Manfredi, who was Puccini's young maid servant and who committed suicide after being wrongly accused by his wife Elvira of having an affair with the composer.

After an autopsy established that Doria died a virgin, Elvira was convicted of slander and Puccini, who was notorious for his tumultuous love life, had to pay damages to the Manfredi's family to save his wife from prison.

While that chapter in Puccini's life is known, director Paolo Benvenuti says he has discovered documents showing Puccini actually had a long affair with Doria's cousin, Giulia Manfredi.

WRONG MISTRESS   Continued...