The opera season in Verona runs from the end of June until the end of August, and as I was travelling to Verona with work in July I leapt at the chance to see an opera in the famous arena during my trip.
I am by no means an opera buff but I have seen a few performances at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House but seeing opera in the Verona Arena is a real bucket list experience for opera lovers and novices alike! I saw La Traviata, an opera by Italian composer Verdi, which is one I’d never seen before but soon realised that I knew many of melodies and the experience lived up to my expectations.
Here are my top tips for a visit to the Verona Opera…
– In my opinion we sat in the best seats, these are reserved, numbered metal bucket seats on the first tier of the stone steps (Poltroncina central di gradinata), we had a fantastic view and good acoustics. The more expensive seats are those on the flat of the arena floor, and this means that you are constantly looking up to the stage and they are far more comfortable than sitting on the stone steps!
– Hire a cushion for the performance (approx. €3) from inside the arena rather than buy one outside. The ones for hire are of better quality and also for the last few years all proceeds go to charity; it was the Red Cross when I was there.
– I bought a cheap souvenir fan from one of the stalls in Casa Mazzanti and I was so glad I did as it was very muggy at the start of the evening.
– Take a small bottle of water with you as the bars in the arena tend to focus on beer and wine (though I recommend that you try some of that too!)
– Take a lighter or matches with you, when you enter the arena you are given a candle to celebrate the time when the arena didn’t have any electricity and candles lit up the scenery. When the music starts the candles are lit and it all looks magical.
– The dress code is smart casual, its summer so ensure that you are comfortable enough for the heat but also take some layers as it can get colder later on in the evening – some of the operas such as Aida last until 1am! Also Verona is nearly entirely made of marble so shoes with good grip are a must.
– The operas usually start at 9pm, so have dinner before you go in. The restaurants directly opposite the arena tended to be really expensive; we went to a lovely pizzeria just one street back (unfortunately I can’t remember the name) which was much better value.
– The Italians clap – a lot. During the opera the crowd is much more animated than in the UK, they’ll clap after most arias and there’ll also be shouts of “Brava” after particularly rousing performances. My advice would be to join in and show your appreciation to the cast.
– A small inexpensive pair of binoculars would be useful so you can get a close up of the performers.
– Do your homework! Swot up on the opera, particularly if you don’t know the plot, or just want to refresh your memory. New for 2016 were English surtitles (they also have Italian) but they are slightly at an angle to the stage and it was slightly distracting having to look up regularly.
Can you think of anything else that I may have left off?
You can see details of the 2017 Verona Opera programme here.