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Opera in Verona - In a Word: Fantastic!

Updated on October 2, 2013

Of all the traveling I’ve done, the trips to the opera festival in Verona, Italy really stand out. Three times my wife and I attended grand opera (and I mean grand opera) at the Arena di Verona and each time was absolutely fabulous. Even if you do not like opera (and if you do not, believe me you don’t know what your missing!), attending the festival is still a memorable occasion. Some background: the Arena is a Roman amphitheater constructed in 30 AD, similar to the Coliseum in Rome (though the Arena is in better shape). Starting in 1913, opera has been performed here every year with the exceptions of during the World Wars I and II. My wife and I have seen, so far, The Barber of Seville, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Tosca, Carmen, and Aida (three times). We also attended a Placido Domingo gala where the venerable tenor performed in Act III of three different operas. (After the gala, we got to meet him and I have a picture of the two of us - quite a thrill for this opera lover, believe me!) In case you’re wondering, Aida, the Giuseppe Verdi opera of love and jealousy in ancient Egypt, is a staple at the festival. I understand the Arena is the largest stage in the world and the productions reflect it - they are simply spectacular. If the work calls for horses ( for instance, the Grand March in Aida), you will see real horses! (After the last act of Barber of Seville, there were fireworks.) Many opera have ballet sequences and they are incredible on this stage - there is so much going on it is almost too much to take in all at once. The orchestra is first rate as well.

The Arena at Night
The Arena at Night
Inside the Arena
Inside the Arena
Some of the props for Aida and Barber of Seville Waiting Outside the Arena
Some of the props for Aida and Barber of Seville Waiting Outside the Arena
Carabinieri (National Police) Outide the Arena
Carabinieri (National Police) Outide the Arena
Aida
Aida
One of the Aida Sets
One of the Aida Sets
Placido Domingo Taking a Bow
Placido Domingo Taking a Bow
Real Horses!
Real Horses!
From Carmen
From Carmen

The city of Verona itself is in the westernmost portion of the Veneto, that region of northern Italy which used to be part of the Republic of Venice. (Venice, or Venezia, is another wonderful place to visit but that deserves another hub). The major cities of the Veneto region, Verona, Vicenza, and Padova among others, share architectural traits with Venice (which is still the capital of the region). There is much to see in Verona, even if you don’t attend opera, including some wonderful churches, palazzi (palaces), and tombs of famous Veronese. Like many Italian cities, it is a wonderful place just to walk around in. And the food . . . well, it is in Italy after all! Not to mention the wine. (The Veneto is where Valpolicella, Amarone, and Bardolino come from among others. Like white wines? Try Soave.)

Piazza Bra From the Arena
Piazza Bra From the Arena
Piazza Bra - Another View
Piazza Bra - Another View
Piazza dei Signori; the Venetian Lion
Piazza dei Signori; the Venetian Lion

A good day in Verona starts with an excellent colazione (breakfast) in one of the outdoor restaurants in Piazza Bra (where the Arena is located and the central part of the old city), a little touring, and then sit down around noon or so for il pranzo (lunch) with a nice bottle of wine. After that, you’ll probably want to go back to the hotel for a little rest! (If you’re there for the opera season, it will be too hot in the afternoon to walk around anyway.) In the evening, a light dinner perhaps, and enjoy walking around the city and seeing the sights (there is also excellent shopping but bring lots of money!) If you are attending the opera, it will most likely start at 9 PM and you won’t get out until after midnight. The outdoor restaurants in Piazza Bra will be open - you will see many people dining and drinking in the wee hours of the morning!

Sharing Breakfast with Friends!
Sharing Breakfast with Friends!
Hungry Yet?
Hungry Yet?

I would be remiss if I did not mention Mr. Robert Schweitzer and his excellent opera tours (we took advantage of his operation all three times). Herr Schweitzer has been doing this for years and his is a first class operation. His package includes lodging at top notch hotels, champagne breakfast, literally the best seats in the Arena, and champagne and hors d’oeuvres between each act. The first night you get to have dinner with the cast of the opera (be prepared to stay out late)! I have included a link to his website below.

The Author and Herr Schweitzer (He's on the left)
The Author and Herr Schweitzer (He's on the left)

For you lovers of good music, good food and wine, and beautiful surroundings, the Verona opera experience is not to be missed. We live in the States now (we used to live in Europe) and we cannot get “across the pond” as much as we used to, but the opera festival is definitely on our “to do soon” agenda! By the way, if you Google Arena di Verona, you will find the website with the current year’s offerings. Enjoy!

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    • AlexDrinkH2O profile image
      Author

      AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

      Many thanks, Audrey - glad you enjoyed it!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Thank you Alex and thank you John for sharing! This is an exceptional article! Sharing!

    • AlexDrinkH2O profile image
      Author

      AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

      Thanks, John.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Alex, and what an exceptional article this one is - Aida looked grand!

      I'm voting up all the way and taking it to FB for my family and friends to enjoy!

      Take care and enjoy your Saturday

      John

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Alex. Wonderful Hub. Did not realize that Verona had such a grand Arena. The photos are simply amazing. Would love to see an opera here someday. Voting up, sharing and all the other good stuff.