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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. Held every year during the summer in June, the festival programme features some of the finest operatic stars in the world today performing in many of the most popular and unmissable operas.

View of ancient Arena di Verona

Over a century since the first showing of Aida in 1913, in 2014 the festival commemorated the centenary of the birth of Guiseppe Verdi and even featured a performance from the legendary ‘Three Tenor’ Plácido Domingo who made a memorable appearance. 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 to ensure the festival is remembered year after year. In the early years, several organisations took turns to present and it was not 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?

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