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Saturday 30 October 2010

Verona Opera Festival

If you love opera and you also love Italy, you really have missed a stunning spectacle if you haven't yet been to see the Verona Opera Festival.  (Even if opera is not really your thing, you would not fail to be moved by the ancient setting of this particular Festival).  When I went, we decided to do it in style, and opted for the best seats in the house (Poltronissime) where the Italians turn up in full evening dress for the men, and long, elegant gowns for the ladies.
Before entering the Arena di Verona, it is a good idea to eat at one of the many restaurants in the small streets surrounding the amphitheatre.  This way, you can really make the most of the charged atmosphere, whilst doing some serious people watching at the same time.  There are lots of gorgeous, designer shops for you to feast your eyes on (I particularly remember the Louis Vuitton shop, which was immediately opposite the ancient arene, containing a huge selection of wonderful handbags - all at wonderful prices, of course).

Once inside the arena, be prepared to be blown away by the sheer scale and magnificence of it all.  The arena sits 20,000 people, from the best seats which are on the floor of the arena, right up to the unreserved places on the upper (very upper!) stone galleries, where you are perched high on the topmost ramparts of the original Stadium, which was built in 30 A.D.
When one thinks of opera, The Royal Opera House at Convent Garden, the Sydney Opera House, and La Scala all spring readily to mind, but you will find that Verona combines a quite unique setting with productions and performances of a consistently high standard.  Where else could you be watching, on a hot summer night, a performance of Aida (as I was) at the start of the second Act, when immediately behind the stage, a huge, full moon rose majestically above the ancient arena walls and literally hung in the dark sky, surrounded by glittering stars, for the remainder of the performance.
The Italians really do have a love and flair for the dramatic performance, and they are a very demanding audience, which always seems to bring out the very best in performers and musicians alike.  When the audience is particularly appreciative of a certain Aria, they will stamp their feet, cheer and clap and, even though they are in the middle of an Act, the performers will sing the Aria again, to even more spontaneous applause.
It really was a magical experience, and one that I will never forget!


BB said...

This sounds like an awesome sight to see. I'm far from an opera fan but I do love old structures, architecture and ancient ruins. I've always been fascinated with the pyramids in Egypt and the Spinx. Even old homes fascinate me. Maybe I was an architect in a previous life? haha.

Daphne Gadd said...

It sounds wonderful! The closest I've come to that is seeing Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in the ancient Greek theatre at Epidavros. A magnificent (rural) setting with wonderful distant views to start with, then the beauty of the night sky heightening the drama. We're hoping to go there again this summer - to see an Aristophanes comedy this time probably.

I think I feel about Greece and Greek culture very much as you do about all things Italian!

Well done with the blog - I think you're doing a great job!

Southhamsdarling said...

Barb, as you like architecture,ancient ruins etc. you would have loved the Ampitheatre! Like you, I have always been fascinated by the Pyramids, and would love to go to Egypt. I watched so many programmes about it all.

Southhamsdarling said...

Daphne, Glad you liked the piece about Verona. I'm sure the performance at the ancient Greek theatre must have been just as thrilling. Good to see that you are following the Blog. I have actually just been in and read all about your wonderful adventure in 2007/2008. That must have been amazing. I was all set to go to Maccu Picchu a couple of years ago, on a charity trek, but, unfortunately, as I had had that anaphylactic shock episode, they wouldn't accept me, just in case anything happened when we were deep in the forests! :(

Masia Mum said...

Hi - found you via Bag Lady. Feel we have two things at least in common. UK residency [I live in London] and height - snap 5ft.1in. I go for "the best things come in small packages" and "small but perfectly formed" they work for me. Seeing your Verona post brought back so many memories for me. I had the most fantastic evening there way back in my distant past watching a performance of La Boheme. I used to rave so much about the experience that many years later when we were holidaying with our family and close friends in Italy I persuaded everyone to drive to Verona for a performance of Carmen. OK it was open-air but it was August, it was Italy what could go wrong? A deluge that's what - it rained solidly through the day but we all hung on just in case, eventually it stopped but too late for a performance. Such a shame. Since then solid hours of drenching rain are referred to in our family as "Verona weather".

Southhamsdarling said...

Thank you for dropping by Masia Mum, and good to see someone from my home country! I so agree with you about "the best things come in small packages" and "small but perfectly formed." Well, I would, wouldn't it?! We also have our age in common, as I am in my sixties (but not in my head!). Can't believe about that deluge in Verona - how disappointing for you all. It's funny how these experiences become family sayings, isn't it? Hope you will drop by again.