Opera night at Arena, Verona
If you are in Verona during the summer opera season, you must go and experience this spectacle. The sets are magnificent, the atmosphere is superb and the performance will enthral you. When we went in July 2005, I found that there were gaps in the information here on VT, and asked a few questions in the forum to fill those gaps. So in the next few tips hopefully you will find the information you are looking for.
Cushions are essential if you are sitting on the stone steps for four hours. The stone can be hot after a day in the glaring sun, but more importantly, it is VERY hard ! You can either take your own, or you can hire cushions on the way into the arena (if you’re not too late and they haven’t sold out). I believe the charge was 5 euros each (yes, I know, expensive, but VERY necessary)
It has been a tradition since the 1980's to hand out candles to the spectators on the terraces. These are then lit at the start of the performance. This is in commemoration of the first performance in the Arena, in 1913, of Verdi's Aida, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composers birth. At the time there was no electricity in the Arena, so the audience all took in candles (by the thousand !) to light up the scenery. You wouldn’t think that candles this small would be very effective, but look at the second picture and see all the points of light !
For the first time in my life I went to see an opera. It was at the arena in Verona and it was 'Turandot'. Although the opera was in Italian (and I was not sure if I was even going to like it) I had a great time, I thought it was fantastic. Despite the language barrier, the music, performances and sets on the stage were powerful enough so that anyone could understand the story.
If you are in Verona (or the area) next year between the 24th of June and the 27th of August, go check out the opera (there is an update on the website below on which opera's they will be showing). Just note that during this time it can be hard to get accommodation, so make sure you book in advance.
The cheapest tickets are about EUR 21 - that means you will be seated at the 'back' - but you can still see and hear everything. Although hold onto your tickets, they get checked when you enter and when you exit the arena as well.
Dress Code: My friends and I all made an effort - as it was our first time to the opera. Don't over-do it, no need for ties and jacket. But don't wear jeans either. Just nice pants (or skirt) and a nice top will do fine (I know 'nice' is kind of vague - but it's the best word I've got at the moment).
Of course a night at the opera should not be missed if you are in Verona in the high summer months. Even as a non-opera fan I found it mesmerising.
We just plumped for the unreserved stone seats - 'gradinata non numerata' - the cheapest at about £18. I booked via the internet and picked tickets up at the office (just opposite the "ala" wing part of the arena). We thought we got in early - 8pm for the 9pm start but the steps were nearly full then!! The arena opens at 7pm so its best to get in early and settle yourself down - with a cushion forr the big event - these can be rented on the night! Worthwhile as those steps are hard after sitting on them for 4 hours! I hadn't appreciated how hot the stone steps would still be either.
Dress Code: People in the posh reserved seats tend to dress up. You are not allowed to bring bottles in - they obviously like you to buy their own drinks which they come round with regularly - 4 euros for a can of drink!
The performance we watched was Aida - a good one if not a big opera fan - its quite dramatic and the scenery is great. At the beginning of the performance when the spotlights go down the area was lit by candlelight. This is a tradition from when the first opera performances began here and there was no electricity - it was a magical setting in the old arena. The acoustics are amazing too - the performers do not have mikes but even right at the top of the arena we could here the music clearly.
Dress Code: Smart but comfortable would be a good idea -the stone steps get quite hard after 4 hours of sitting on them!! Thank goodness there were 2 x20 mins breaks between the acts.
GOING TO THE FAMOUS OPERA FESTIVAL IN THE ARENA?
my advice is to avoid the most expensive tickets (for the parterre) where you won't see/hear well and you''ll have to dress up. go for the 'gradinata non numerata' , sit in the sector below the 'wing' (the last bit of outer wall remaining) here you'll get the best sound as it bounces off this extra bit of wall and you'll see the sets how they're meant to be seen... it's a bis stage! you want to be higher up...just remember your binoculars if you want to see the funny facial expressions of the singers or the cleavage of the german girl sitting opposite you...
Dress Code: just remember that if it's been a hot sunny day the stones you're sitting on are going to be melting your butt... rent those cushions you find there, and rent more than one!
I was there for two nights just for the opera.
It's really good to spend one or more nights enjoying
the wonderful performance!
Still the opera.
Coz for me,it's really a special experience.
Dress Code: Some people dress very formal.
suggestion: Don't wear casual clothes though a small amount do,afterall you're watching a pretty formal performance.Right?