Whether opera lover, music lover or a simply a tourist in Verona, if you have the opportunity to attend an opera in the Arena of Verona, it is an experience that you should not miss. There is definitely something magical in listening to Aida’s arias soaring up to the sky from the stage with a spectacularly lavish stage set.
Attending an Opera at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival is an extraordinary experience, watching performances with the rich sets, the ensemble, the orchestra, the lyrics, the dance company, and costumes that have enthralled millions of spectators from all over the world for more than a hundred years.
The Verona opera festival takes place every year from June to August. Almost every day, different opera performances are shown, so that we can enjoy different famous opera every night. From “Aida” to “Carmen”, “Nabucco”, “Turandot” and “Madame Butterfly” we can see the most famous operas in the world.
The festival is traditionally held in the almost 2000 years old Roman amphitheatre known as Arena di Verona which is located in the heart of the city. After the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre in Capua, the Roman arena in Verona is the third largest Roman amphitheatre. With its gigantic dimensions of 140 metres in length and 110 metres in width it dominates the Piazza Brà from the north.
It was built in 30 A.D. and was purposed for games, which were to entertain the Roman government, like gladiator fighting, bloody combats, chariot races, public executions, or bullfights. Back in Roman times 20,000 spectators jeered and roared with blood lust in this giant arena. There were sweat, fear, noise, blood and anguish. Now there still are, not much has changed in this arena over the last 2,000 years. Where once gladiators fought to the death, now mighty tenors and sopranos enliven the stage with the appearance of every passion in operas. The tragic operas convey horror, pity, fear, and sorrow. Dying for love is permitted, even praiseworthy, but murder for revenge will get its karmic due.
The Arena Opera Festival we know today started when a grand “Aida” opera was staged to celebrate in 1913 the centenary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi. A phenomenon was born: an annual event presenting four to six large-scale operas over three months. The Arena can accommodate up to 15,000 audience members at each performance, seated either in comfortable chairs in the middle of the Arena, or on the myriad ranks of stone seats that surround the basin.
As you enter the Arena through one of the many gates and climb the steps, you find yourself on the threshold of another world. Opera is a marriage of the arts, a musical drama, full of glorious song, costume, orchestral music and pageantry. It is the medium through which tales and myths are revisited, history retold and imagination stimulated.
So, whether down at the bottom in the stalls or high up on the stone tiers, you can watch the gigantic stage, admire the spectacle, and shout: ”Bravo!”