Every summer cities around the world stage production of fine arts. But nowhere in the world, not even other Italian cities, can hold a candle to the operatic performances in Verona every summer.
Why? Because Italians love drama and music and nothing blends the two more effectively than opera. Of course, the crowds drawn to the summer Opera Festival demand much from the performance, and the performers always do their part to deliver.
But the most intriguing and famous aspect of the summer opera season in Verona is the location of the production. There might be famous opera houses the world over, but none of them can claim a proud history dating back 2,000 years, except this one.
The Verona Opera Festival is held every summer, and productions are staged in the Arena di Verona. This venue is nothing less than an authentic Roman amphitheatre much like a less battered version of the Roman Coliseum. The amphitheatre was build in 30 AD outside the walls of the city as the location in which the government would host ludii or circuses for public entertainment.
An earthquake in 1117 destroyed most of the outer wall of the amphitheatre and the pink and white limestone was scavenged for other buildings. The “Ala” or inner circle of the ring was all that remained, and that was saved primarily due to a restored love of antiquity during the Renaissance. The amphitheatre was once again used to host dramatic productions.
In 1913, the rebirth of the amphitheatre was complete. Dramatic music performances were once again held in this ancient monument. Despite no roof and a missing outer wall, the acoustics of the building are near perfect and there simply isn’t a bad seat in the house – although some are much higher than others. The arena seats 20,000 from the best seats on the ground level to the unreserved seats at the top of the stadium.
The event is unusual, especially the atmosphere, and the Verona Opera Festival draws quite a crowd of music enthusiasts and many of the world’s best performers. The selections of the festival are careful to ensure the operas appeal to life-long opera lovers and those just starting an appreciation of the art form. With so many seats and relatively inexpensive ticket prices, the Festival and Arena di Verona is open to everyone for these summer productions.
Performances remaining in the season include Aida, Tosca, Nabucco, Rigoletto, Carmen and Giselle. Tickets start at 24,50 € and can be purchased through the arena’s webpage.