Verona – Tips for the Opera
From the end of June until the end of August the Arena de Verona holds its Opera Festival every year. The Festival puts on a different Opera on a Friday and Saturday night, so if you are in Verona for the weekend you can take in two different operas. Even if you are not an opera-goer it is fascinating to watch them change the set, involving a number of cranes lifting massive pieces of the set over the Arena walls.
We had tickets for both Friday and Saturday nights. Both were in the cheap seats – the stone steps that it was awe-inspiring to think have been sat upon for various entertainments for the last 2,000 years.
Our second trip, to see Aida, ended up being even more dramatic than we expected. As we sat in the Arena we watched dark clouds building and inexorably moving in our direction. A clap of thunder and flash of lightning preceded, only by moments, the fattest, coldest drops of rain. We were soaked through in less than a minute, and even more upsetting was the fact that it diluted the wine! Our menfolk hastily ran for shelter, but our posh frocks and high-heels made escape on the slippery stone steps an impossibility. We sat it out in true British fashion!
Once the storm had passed, and whilst they were sponging down the stage I made a quick dash for our hotel room and a dry pair of jeans and a sweater, and the performance went ahead just an hour behind schedule.
Tips for the Opera
1. It starts late – 9 pm in the summer – and can last 3 – 4 hours. The time will fly by, but eat first unless you are happy for it to be a very late night.
2. The stone seats are more comfortable than you would imagine, and add hugely to the character, so I would definitely go for these again, but, they are not reserved. The best seats are those immediately below the walkway. As no-one is allowed to sit on the walkway you can use it as a backrest – on the normal steps people’s legs get in the way. You will need cushions, so take patio chair cushions from home if you have luggage space. Otherwise we bought cushion pads sold outside for E3 – 4 depending upon the night of the week. They were better than they looked, and we bought an extra as a backrest. You can also rent cushions in the arena. Finally, the front facing edge of the steps are a bit rough, so long-ish skirts or trousers are more comfortable provided the fabric won’t snag.
3. Food (on a par with British Rail) and drink (on a par with Fortnums) is available in the arena, so although we smuggled in some water we didn’t take anything else.
4. The stone seats have soaked up the sun all day and it is like sitting on an Aga as they gently radiate the heat back out all evening. However once it gets to midnight you might need a light cardigan or jacket.
If you are happy to make a long night of it there is no shortage of places to eat and drink after the performance. We were happy to stagger across the square to our beds!
Click here to read my blog on how to spend A Weekend in Verona.