From 14th June 2013 until September 2013 Verona will be celebrating 100 years of the Opera being held in the Italian city. We have all had the experience of listening to Opera at one point or another in our lives. Some may have heard it in films, on the radio, from our grandparents or parents and many have been fortunate to visit the Opera and discover an evening of magic, an evening where music takes over every emotion in your body, every inch of you feels the raw passion that has survived in our musical history for one hundred years.

 

Aida at Arena di Verona Opera Festival

 

Here are a few points on what has happened within Opera since the first performance 100 years ago in 1913.

  • The first operas were performed in 1913 in celebration of the centenary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi – Aida
  • In 1953 a Water pool was created for Aida to go on stage to look like the Nile with little Egyptian boats…..by silent director Georg Wilhelm Pabst.
  • it was Pabst who was responsible for the introduction of a great number of animals on stage, including elephants, horses and dromedaries,
  • On average the arena fits 15,000 people x 58 performances = 870,000 approx watchers
  • No microphones or loudspeakers used at the opera until 2011
  • Arena also had performances from – Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, The Who, Rod Stewart, Sting and Muse
  • 1981,1984, 2010 the arena hosted the podium and presentation for the Giro d’Italia
  • 25 June 2013 Paul McCartney performing instead of Opera
  • Notable Opera singers who have performed in Verona arena – Giuseppe Di Stefano, Maria Callas (had a villa in Sirmione), Tito Gobbi
  • First 20th Century Opera performance 10th August 1913 to celebrate centennial birth of Verdi – Aida
  • Puccini and Mascagni attended
  • Every Year since there has been an opera except 1915-18 and 1940-45 because of war
  • So celebrating 100 years but it’s the 91st festival
  • Aida has been performed at every festival
  • The first performance has already sold out for the top 4 tickets options(where the posh and  the rich go)
  • Maybe a countdown timer to the start of the event
  • Just going back in time, in 1913 many things happened around the world … the Opel made vehicle came out, the opening of the Panama channel, the brand Camel cigarette stepped into the tobacco shops
  • The Arena di Verona became the first open air opera house in Italy, and the largest in the world: a record it still holds today.
  • From 14th June to 8th September 2013, 58 performances for 6 titles and 4 Gala nights welcome you at the Arena di Verona for the 91st edition of the Opera Festival, dedicated to the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, on the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth.
  • Currently Aida has been performed 597 times in Verona arena, with 615 being performed by the end of this season

My personal favourite which hits me to the core and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it is, Madame Butterfly by Puccini

 

From years of visiting the Opera Festival in Verona here are some helpful reminders when planning your evening, should you be fortunate enough to go for this once in a lifetime experience.

  1. If you are sitting in an un-numbered seat, don’t forget to take a cushion with you.  If you don’t want to lug a cushion around with you, there are cushions for hire outside the premises. 
  2. There is no dress code for the un-numbered seats
  3. Take water with you
  4. Leave plenty of time to go to the toilet before each show – you usually have about 15 minutes between shows
  5. As you would in the cinema, turn off your mobile phone!

If you are tempted to join in the chorus of praise remember that opera and ballet lovers like getting their Italian gender endings correct. So: “brava!” for a woman, “bravo!” for man and “bravi!” for everyone. On the other hand, you can just whistle, shout or stay entirely silent depending on your mood.

Romantic opera, like that of Puccini or Verdi, is the grandest of all. The orchestral accompaniment is lush and complex. Verona is one of Italy’s most attractive cities. The world renowned arena and annual opera festival should not be missed for anyone visiting the Italian lakes.

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