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Opera in an Ancient Roman Amphitheatre!

Opera in an Ancient Roman Amphitheatre!

story by: Tom Ricketts

Ever thought about going to see an opera performance? Granted it’s not everyone’s thing, but with the music being so emotional and dramatic, there’s bound to be a song or two you like. We’ve all heard a bit of Pavarotti before, that Nessun Dorma tune is pretty inspiring! And we’ve all watched SuBo’s first audition when she performed I Dreamed a Dream on Britain’s Got Talent right? Plus there’s something nice about getting all done up for a night out. Fella’s looking dapper in the tux, and the ladies shining in their best ball gown and highest heals. Maybe go out for a nice dinner and a flute or two of bubbly. It must be pretty amazing going to those opera houses in Europe covered with gold and frescos by the likes of da Vinci or Michelangelo. Or take it a step further and think about being in a thousand year old Roman amphitheatre. Probably not as cool as seeing the gladiators fight it out, but there’s no chance of ever seeing that again. However, opera is still quite legal. And we’re quite excited to inform you that you can sit back in and enjoy it in a turn of the century (1st century!) amphitheatre! It’s in Italy of course. In fair Verona.

The Verona amphitheatre was built in 30AD by the Roman Empire for ‘ludi’, or public games. Notoriously blood hungry, the public games included slaves being made to fight to the death, and mock hunting of strange animals imported from Africa. In those days up to 30,000 people could fit in the amphitheatre and they often travelled long distances to be there. The amphitheatre was damaged in an earthquake in 1117 and eventually fell into disuse. There’s some evidence of random use during the Renaissance, but sustained use didn’t start again until 1913 when the opera Aida was performed. Aside from the two World Wars, it’s been used every summer since. Romans amphitheatres are known for their fantastic acoustics and Verona is no exception. In fact Verona’s is so good that microphones and speakers were never needed! However, in 2011 electrics were installed which allowed mainstream artists to perform in the amphitheatre, and it now boasts a long list of modern musicians such as Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney, One Direction and even rockers Muse.

However it’s the opera we’re here to see, and thankfully that is what the amphitheatre is predominantly used for. The season runs from June to September with nearly nightly performances taking place. The annual Verona Arena Festival brings in the big name opera’s like Carmen, Aida and this year, Tosca, all of which attract sell out crowds of 15,000. Symphony orchestra’s, choirs and plays can also been seen during the festival.

If your Italian travel plans have you visiting Verona, ensure you ask your travel agent about booking your seats for this truly unique experience.

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