For lovers of opera there is nothing quite like going to see one of your favourites in an authentic open-air amphitheatre in Italy. Verona is the location to visit, where the Arena di Verona is situated and holds the title of being the third largest Roman amphitheatre in the world.
Built in AD 30, the amphitheatre was able to accommodate around 30,000 spectators who came from far and wide to watch the shows and games. Although the venue was somewhat damaged due to an earthquake in the 12th century, it still stands today with most features intact.
The Arena di Verona is situated right in the heart of the city’s old town and every year since 1913 the Verona Opera Festival has delivered some wonderful classics such as Romeo and Juliet, La Boheme, The Barber of Seville, La Traviata, Aida and Nabucco. The 2011 Verona Opera Festival runs from 17th June to 3rd September.
Every year approximately 500,000 visitors descend on the arena to watch the spectacular productions and over the years the arena has showcased some of the worlds most well-known and popular opera singers including Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi and Tito Gobbi.
Performances usually begin at dusk and it is traditional for spectators on the stone steps to bring small candles (“mocoleto”) which are lit as darkness descends and the lights in the arena are turned off, which creates an enchanting and magical atmosphere.
Most performances have a huge cast and there can be as many as 100 actors and a 50 strong orchestra. The set design, costumes and props can be amazingly detailed and spectacular, often with live animals being used in some scenes.
One of the main advantages of staging an opera at this amazing amphitheatre is that because of the nature of how it has been built, the natural acoustics allow for the sounds to reverberate all around the venue clearly and with strength so there is no need for microphones and also spectators sitting right at the back can be guaranteed not to miss out on any of the beautiful arias being sung.
Verona is easily accessible by air, with flights arriving from all over Italy as well as from Paris, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels. The nearest airport is Verona-Villafranca airport and is located about 12km from the centre. Public transport is frequent and fairly easy to navigate, although consider booking Verona car hire
in order to be more independent and really get around to see the sights this beautiful city has to offer.