We finally bought tickets to attend the opera at the Verona Arena and I couldn’t contain my excitement as this also means finally getting the chance to spend a few hours exploring lovely Verona. What makes this year particularly special, as Swide described, was that “celebrating its 100 years of prestigious event, Arena di Verona, is preparing for one hell of a year”.
And the icing on top – we got tickets for Verdi’s “Aida”, which is known for its extravagant stage productions. Attending an opera in a Roman amphitheater that dates back thousands of years was a surreal experience, and add the grandiose production of Aida with props, horses and hundreds of cast members, it made for an unforgettable evening.
The schedule for next year’s opera, the 92th edition, from 20th June to 7th September 2014 is out and if you purchase the tickets before December 24th, it will be at a special price. Here are 5 tips to attending the opera.
1. Buying tickets
Cheapest tickets on the stone steps costs €22 and if you want to splurge, the most expensive seats (poltronissima gold) go for €188.
Should you decide to get the cheapest tickets, which are on the stone steps and unreserved, it’s on a first-come first-serve basis, so head there early. Tickets which costs €26 are also in this area and unreserved but more centrally located. After that, the price jumps to €80. Here’s a good description of the various seating position in the Verona Arena on TickItaly.
If we had to do it again, we’d buy the €80 tickets. Why? It’s not that the stone steps were uncomfortable, renting cushions would have solved that problem, but not having a back rest made it unbearable. The first couple of hours were fine but Aida, with the intermissions and all, lasted four hours.
2. Doing your homework
You would get more out of the performance if you read beforehand what the opera is about. Italy Magazine gave great advice that:
To fully enjoy your evening do some homework before going to Verona. Look for a book or go online to find out about the plot and the main features of the opera you are planning to see.
We even printed the libretto (text) only to realize that without a handheld/portable reading light, it would be impossible to read. Fortunately, we had a copy on the smartphone and with the brightness dimmed, we referred to that.
On the topic of lights, allow me to digress for a moment. If you have tickets for the unreserved seats, as you enter the Arena you will find an unmarked box tucked away in a corner with a birthday-cake type candle in a clear plastic package. There are free so pick one up as these will be lit before the opera begins. It is meant to celebrate the time when the Arena had no electricity and the candles lit up the scenery.
That evening when the candles were lit, it was a pretty magical scene. And since the Verona Arena was celebrating its 100th anniversary, we also sang “Tanti Auguri” (Happy Birthday).
3. Bringing your own food and drinks
The rules and regulations state that you can’t bring your own food and drinks. It’s as valid as saying you can’t double park in Rome. I’m sure you get my point. Everyone, from what I could discern in the unreserved area, brought food but us!
Don’t get carried away by bringing a picnic basket but a panino and a bottle of water would serve you – at least your stomach – well! During intermission, food and drinks are sold and as you would expect, they don’t come cheap.
It states that the opera starts at 9pm but expect speeches and delays which means it will start at 9.15pm and in our case, it didn’t finish until after 1.00am. Considering this, a bite would come in handy.
4. Dress code
It’s summer so dress casually and more importantly, comfortably. I’d advise you to bring a light cardigan/pullover as it gets chilly at night. For those who have tickets for either the poltrone or poltronissime, where you’re on the arena floor, you’re requested to dress “elegantly”. We did see that it was a black tie event and ladies were in evening dresses.
5. Dining after the opera
We were starving. I stubbornly refused to buy food inside the Verona Arena despite the signs of protest from my stomach. I didn’t want to get ripped off and after the opera, I was desperately looking for a place to eat.
There were some restaurants still opened on Piazza Bra, but knew they would be targeted for the opera crowd. Taking our chances, we made our way to our bed and breakfast with the hope that we would come across a place to eat.
Luck was on our side, and while many places were already closed, we found Cappa Cafe that served drinks and light snacks. There was a good crowd hanging outside and figured that was a good sign. It has a nice ambiance and the menu offers a good variety.
Have you attended the opera at the Verona Arena? What was your experience like and would tips would you share?