A magnificent “mini Colosseum” right in the city’s heart, the Arena di Verona was constructed in the year 30 CE—nearly a half-century before the Roman amphitheater. The Arena, Verona’s best-known landmark, is still the site of major concerts and performances, including its annual summer opera festival.
The oldest opera festival in the world, the Arena di Verona Opera Festival was first held in 1913 with a performance of Aida to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi. But, because of stoppages during the World Wars and the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is only celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.
Opening the 100th festival on June 16th is—you guessed it—Aida, performed each year since the beginning. The grand opera will be staged on 13 evenings during the summer-long festival.
But Aida is not the only opera on the schedule, of course. In fact, the centennial festival will stage the grandest and best-known operas, including:
- Carmen (June 23, July 6, August 11, August 24, September 6)
- The Barber of Seville (June 24, 30; July 13, 22)
- Rigoletto (July 1, 7, 20; August 4)
- La Traviata (July 8, 14, 27; August 19, 26; September 9)
- Nabucco (July 15, 28; August 3, 17)
- Tosca (July 29; August 5, 10; September 1)
- Madame Butterfly (August 12, 25; September 2, 7)
In addition to these opera performances, friend-of-the-festival Placido Domingo will perform on August 6th. Meanwhile, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala will make its festival debut on the summer stage on August 31st.
I hope this post encourages you to put Verona on your itinerary this summer. Seeing an opera or a classical music performance under the stars in a 2000-year-old Roman arena has to be one of the most magical nights that you can spend in Italy—or anywhere.
Some Verona Links:
- Arena di Verona [official website + tickets]
- Arena di Verona Opera Festival tickets [StubHub—just in case tickets are sold out on the official site]
- Verona Card, which includes skip-the-line access to tours of the arena and other city sights [Tiqets]
- Arena di Verona opera ticket package, which includes a pre-performance guided city tour [Viator]
- Vista Palazzo Verona, one of the city’s newest luxury hotels, offered guests last summer a package that included a Michelin-star rooftop dining experience on its “Star Roof” plus front-row seats to a performance. Contact the hotel for this year’s offers.
This post first published on 21 April 2023
Updated on 17 May 2023