The historic city of Verona – home of characters Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic play – is an interesting place to visit year round, as it has plenty of Roman-era sites and charming trattorias to keep tourists busy. But visitors during the summer are treated to a truly special experience, as it’s the season of the Verona Opera Festival.
Held in the historic Verona Arena, which was built in AD 30, the opera festival sees the world’s best opera singers perform the genre’s best-known productions in front of packed houses of some 15,000 spectators.
Each season runs from June to September and sees about a dozen productions that put on shows almost every single night. This year, 2013, was the 100th incarnation of the festival and some notable productions from this year’s lineup included Giuseppe Verde’s Aida and Nabucco and, somewhat fittingly, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In 1913 Aida was actually the first opera production to be shown in the arena, when it commemorated the 100-year anniversary of Verde’s birth.
Of course, as it’s housed in an outdoor arena, the atmosphere at the shows is less formal than at most opera houses. But it’s a lot of fun, and a totally unique experience to be able to watch some of Italy’s greatest operas and performers in a setting fit for a king – or an emperor.
Check out the site Holiday Verona for more information on the Opera Festival and other events happening in and around the city. Also take a look at their sister site, Apartments Verona, for ideas on where to stay while visiting the city.