The night came alive when the opera started, the stage emerged from the dark and the orchestra strings sent notes floating. The sopranos, the tenors, the baritones and the chorus resonated each other. The stage was not mere decoration, it integrated with the drama. The lighting is not only the stage highlighter but is also the stage itself, shaping it, creating the atmosphere, making concrete steps became desert landscape. The orchestra playing below the stage, sending the music soaring from the earth. It was sensational. Artificial but real, dramatic but convincing, tragic but relieving, that is opera.
The whole week there was rainy in the mornings, and the open air night was rather chilly. However the shows went on. Only on the second night the show was interrupted by drizzles a few times. The morning rain caused the shoes soaking wet, and the dryer in the hotel room was not able dry them completely. The dampness kept coming back after drying. Cold shoes during the shows but applauded along with the audience after the spectacular performances.
The Arena is an ancient amphitheater at center of Verona where the yearly opera festival is held. This year the operas were directed by the Florence born Zeffirelli. Famous operas were played including Turandot and IL Travatore by Verdi and Aida by Puccini. This time of the year Verona is the center of opera world.
Verona is like other town in Italy, small cobbled streets, old buildings, ice cream shops and a river quietly run through it. Verona is also famous as the town of Guilleta e Romeo of Shakespeare’s novel. There is even a house believed to be Guilleta’s house complete with the famous balcony from where Guilleta listened to Romeo’s serenades. The house now becomes a museum, complete with Guilleta’s statue in the front garden. Many tourists queuing to make picture with Guilleta, somehow it is customary for tourists to grab Guilleta’s right breast for the picture. Guilleta’s right breast got discolored.
Not surprisingly there is also a hotel named after them, which like any other hotel in Italy, or even in Europe, has very small rooms. The single bed room of the hotel Guilleta e Romeo the shoes checked in was so small, just enough for a bed, a shower room and a cupboard. Luggage ended up laying on the floor and the shoes were placed at the bottom of the cupboard. It was past midnight.
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