Performed under the night sky at the open-air Arena amphitheater, at the very heart of the ancient Italian city of Verona, Aida will catch your eyes and soul with its highly charged act, filled with drama from start to finish. The variety of colorful costumes and scenery, the blinking lights and heart-touching voices, the music surrounding you shutting out the outside world, the mesmerizing choreography and sitting with only a velvet cushion between you and the polished steps; it doesn’t matter if you are an opera lover or not, if you only attend one opera in your whole life, Verdi’s Aida has to be that one.
Take a travel in time
Aida is a four-act opera, and the best example of a high form of storytelling; the highest, many would say. Essentially, the plot is an old-fashioned but never-tiring tale of boy meets girl, a mixture of love, jealousy, drama, and rivalry from the very first second, laced with intricate details that will get your full attention and leave you longing for more. Set in Egypt, the ambience includes an enormous golden pyramid shimmering under the artificial lights, huge sphinxes seemingly watching you from the stage, and with the cast that appears to be made of hundreds of people, Aida will give you the feeling that you are on a journey within a journey, being thrown thousands of years into the past, to the reign of the pharaohs. Two remarkable holidays for the price of one.
A different perspective
The gates of the Verona Arena are opened to the public in the morning, and getting into the amphitheater at these early hours certainly has to be on the top of your to-do list. While the set for Aida’s night performance is under construction, you can get a look around without the crowd surrounding you and actually take in the sense of the gigantic Roman building. The well-preserved structure gives you a glimpse back into the past, a whole different time and a whole different world when gladiators and lions fought, while a crowd thirsty for blood watched in awe and anticipation from the same steps you will be sitting at.
In close proximity, you can inspect the remains of the perimeter wall, two rows of rose-tinted arches rising and towering over you. The Arena’s seating capacity used to be of thirty thousand seats, but with the perimeter wall now gone, it has been reduced to half its original capacity, taking only fifteen thousand seats as the rear area of the amphitheater is reserved for Aida’s fantastic and luxurious stage sets. Each night there’s a different stage, and every day the scenery changes.
The closer Aida’s start time gets, the bigger the crowd at Piazza Bra grows, the cobblestone floors of the central square in front of the Arena are invisible under the multitude, while the surrounding cafés, business, and restaurants entirely flood. If you fancy a meal in these restaurants, reserve a table pre or post opera, when the crowd is no longer filling the business. The excited atmosphere gives the piazza a vibrating new aspect, and the anticipation is palpable in the air.
When you cross the Arena’s gates and find your seat in the middle of the overwhelming crowd, you can catch the stars lighting up one by one as the sun slowly fades into the night. And when Aida is almost starting and the lights dim, hold up your lighter and join the crowd in a sea of flickering lights. Opera fan or not, you won’t be able to suppress the chills running through your body as you hear the first resounding roar of the Egyptian gong. It is truly tough to imagine, let alone find any other show with this kind of drama, scenery and story. Viva Aida!
The ancient Verona
However, Verdi’s Aida should not be the only experience you get on your trip to Verona. Rich in classical architecture, this ancient city is broadly respected for having been second only to Rome in the days of the Roman Empire. Here, you will see and feel the elegance and grace of a great Italian city. Home to Shakespeare’s eternal tragic lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Verona now goes by the name of the ‘city of romance’. The most popular tourist destination is Juliet’s house, the famous balcony leaving you itching to re-enact the well-known love scene. ‘O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’.
Verona’s marble streets, elegant piazzas, and narrow alleys are waiting for you to explore them and take in as much of the city’s beauty as you can. Take a trip around the city of romance and finish your Italian journey in the best way possible.
For more information and details about performances of Verdi’s Aida, seating arrangements and prices, and other operas visit www.arena.it
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