Bucket List Entry #7: Opera in Verona, Italy #Opera #Aida #Verdi #Verona #Italy #Big5oh #bucketlist #travel #wanderlust


In the summer of 1992, my friend Lisa and I spent a month inter-railing around Europe, as lots of students do. We spent most of the first half of the month in Italy, travelling first to Milan, then on to Florence and Verona, Venice, Rome and Rimini.


Many people will know that Verona is largely famous for two things, being the setting of Romeo and Juliet and for its first century Roman amphitheatre, the Arena di Verona. It is one of the best preserved structures of its kind and is still in use today, including for an internationally renowned opera festival held each summer.


Back in 1992, I was captivated by the idea of watching opera out in the open air in a Roman amphitheatre but the tickets were horrendously expensive for two students travelling on a budget, especially at the beginning of their trip, and Lisa put the kibosh on us attending a performance while we were there (rightly so). We did later get to see a performance of La Boheme at the Vienna State Opera house for a massive 50 pence each by standing in the gods, and it was marvellous, but my heart has yearned ever since to return to Verona and see an opera performance in that magnificent arena. It was my very first bucket list item.


Fast forward twenty-eight years and my ambition has not diminished. But now, with a little more disposable income and a fiftieth birthday fast approaching, I am hoping that by dropping subtle (and no so subtle, ie basically spelling it out and telling my cousin to keep reminding him) hints to the Irishman that I would really LOVE to go to the opera in Verona for my big birthday trip, I will finally be able to tick this one off a mere thirty years after it became the start of my bucket list.

My fantasy of how this experience will go is quite specific. It will be a warm summer evening, I will be wearing a beautiful, floaty dress and pretty sandals. We will have been for a delicious meal in an authentic Italian trattoria, and the opera will be Verdi’s Aida. No other opera will do the trick, it has to be Aida. The thought of the Egyptian costumes and the dramatic scenery against that magnificent backdrop and the notes of the Triumphal March from Act II floating up into the dark sky makes me shiver down to my toes.

Now, if this dream-come-true visit to the opera in Verona happened to be followed up with a couple of days in Venice (when we weren’t staying in a youth hostel and it wasn’t raining) that would be the icing on the cake, but the opera is the important part. So now I’ve spelt it out. Niall, if you are reading this, no excuses. You’ve got two years to plan it and make the fantasy of a twenty-year-old impoverished student a reality.

Remember Vegas? Over to you. x

One thought on “Bucket List Entry #7: Opera in Verona, Italy #Opera #Aida #Verdi #Verona #Italy #Big5oh #bucketlist #travel #wanderlust

  1. Alan Glover

    I was in Verona in 1992! Specifically to go to the opera. We saw Aida on the day we arrived which was a mistake as we had a 04:30 departure from home to get there and we caved in and left around 01:00 the next morning with the final act still in progress. The highlight though was La Boheme. The stage set was just a large building centre stage through which all performers appeared and departed. Each act the building rotated 90 degrees to present a new scene. Vladimir Chernov sang Marcello and the moment in the second act when he can sulk no longer and declares his love for Musetta was completely heartstopping.
    The whole experience was quite amazing and exhausting – we had unnumbered seats (not terribly expensive as I remember) on the stone arena, so you arrived around 6PM to claim your spot for a 9:00 start (which was often late) you couldn’t sit down for the first couple of hours because the stone had been absorbing heat all day and was too hot to touch. Experienced members of the audience brought their own thick cushions. Vendors selling Birra, Cola, Fanta sang out their wares in operatic style – great atmosphere. You could hire cushions for a fee and were asked not to throw them at the stage at the end – which everybody did anyway. The other opera we saw was Nabucco which I found rather tedious except for the Chorus of the Hebrew slaves which you probably know is a kind of unofficial national anthem. The tenor said we will all sing this together first and then we will do it again for you. So we all sang and when it was over they started up again and we all sang it again! Great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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