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Verona's Annual Summer Opera Festival

Lauren Curd

The Arena di Verona Festival is an annual summer festival situated in the stunning Italian city of Verona. Starting on the 20 June 2014, this year’s programme will feature some of the best operatic stars in the world today in popular and unmistakable shows, culminating with a performance of Roméo et Juliette on the 6 September before closing a day later.

View of ancient Arena di Verona

This year will be 101 years since the first showing of Aida in 1913, a year chosen in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Guiseppe Verdi, but only the 92nd edition of the Verona Opera Festival since its inception as a summer gala. Big names in the biz will be taking part in six different operas and three special events for a total of 54 performances. You can cry as you witness Vittorio Grigolo and Lana Kos retell the Shakespeare classic of Romeo and Juliet or Oksana Dyka’s Madam Butterfly as she flies across the stage. Legendary ‘Three Tenor’ Plácido Domingo also makes an appearance singing the works of Verdi on 17 July 2014.

Interior and red seats of the Arena di Verona

The first performance of Aida all those moons ago set up the Arena for a lifelong unbroken record – the first open-air opera house in Italy and indeed, the world – and it is without doubt the perfect venue for the biggest opera festival Europe has to offer. Built in the 1st century AD, the Roman Amphitheatre was designed to seat nearly 30,000 people and originally used for many forms of entertainment. While earthquakes have shaken the foundations over the years, the main body of the arena has remained intact – it can even withstand a gut-busting solo tenor echoing around the stone seats.

Exterior of the Arena di Verona at night

Many singers make their name at this festival and directors outdo themselves each year to ensure the festival is remembered year after year. In the early years, several organisations took turns to present and it wasn't until 1936 that a permanent organisation was created to maintain consistency and build the festival into the spectacle that thousands flock to Verona to experience every summer.

It is not too late to be part of the action; tickets are still available for several performances, so why not treat yourself to a short break to Verona's Opera Festival?


**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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