Italy is the Opera's ancestral home and still one of the best places in the world to see performances of this art, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a classical music enthusiast to appreciate its superb opera houses: their fine architecture, amazing interiors and inspiring histories make these theaters a worthwhile visit for any discerning traveler. Few know, for example, that the first indoor theatre in masonry in the world was built in the little town of Vicenza, between 1580 and 1585: the Olympic Theatre, a real hidden gem of the Veneto region, created by a maestro – the architect Andrea Palladio. Its intimate, magical atmosphere and its interiors made of wood, stucco and plaster enchant everyone who set foot inside.
As the Opera was born, in the early 17th-century, the composers were under the sponsorship of nobles: the Euridice by Jacopo Peri - the first opera to survive until today - was performed at the wedding of Henry IV of France to Marie de Medici, no less! This is why the theatres built to house operas were designed to be upper-class meeting places, that reflected a status of opulence and luxury: red velvet, precious chandeliers, gold leaf decorations. Still today, in such an elegant atmosphere, it’s like being catapulted into a different dimension; and it would be a shame not to enjoy the opportunity to attend a performance. A night at the opera, in a grand Opera House, is a once in a lifetime experience. Not by chance “opera” literally means "work" in Italian: a single performance involves orchestras, solo and choral singers, actors, dancers, scenery and costumes all in one stage. The result is a joy for eyes, ears and soul.
The greatest Italian opera houses offers a rich choice of operatic seasons throughout most of the year. Here we have selected six important dates for the 2017 season, one show per month -from February to July- in six different Italian cities. They are very well known operas, featuring several memorable arias that can affect us in a way that other music can't. This is a unique tour around the temples of Music!
1 - Bellini’s Norma in Palermo
Let’s start from the Southern Italy, with the Teatro Massimo, in the gorgeous Sicilian town of Palermo. Here, from 19th to 28th February 2017, will be on stage the Norma, lyric tragedy in two acts (music by Vincenzo Bellini). The theatre was opened in 1867 and its horseshoe-shaped auditorium hosts up to 1300 people in the stalls, five floors of boxes and a gallery. It is dominated by the so-called "symbolic wheel" that forms its ceiling and resembles a wide flower with eleven petals; they can be opened to let the hot air flow out: an original and striking cooling system!
2 - Puccini’s Bohème in Parma
The town of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region hosts the Teatro Regio, one of the prime opera venues in Italy. Here from 10th to 19th March 2017 will be on stage La Bohème, opera in 4 acts (music by Giacomo Puccini). Built in the neo-classical style, the Theatre opened in 1829 and right from its inauguration has been a protagonist of the crucial changes which affected melodrama during the XIX and XX centuries, from the end of the period of Rossini to the triumph of the Verdi repertoire, to appreciation of the French and German experience, to the extreme evolution in terms of realism of Italian opera with Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Puccini.
3 - Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra in Milan
This is a very special date, being the 200th anniversary of the premiere of this masterpiece by Gioachino Rossini at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In 1817 the success was so enormous that at every moment the audiences stood up en masse to cover Rossini in acclaim. Two hundred years later, from 12nd April to 7th May 2017, La Gazza Ladra (“The Thieving Magpie”) come back to the stage where it was first performed, staging by the Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores, at his debut at La Scala. As for the theatre… when you say “opera”, you say “Teatro alla Scala”. It’s the most important and celebrated opera house in the world: sheer emotion!
4 - Mozart’s Magic Flute in Turin
The Teatro Regio of Turin, capital of the Piedmont region, has a long and fascinating history that began with its construction in 1740. It is hosted in a complex and historically stratified building, where the Baroque roots of the old theatre, the audacious modern architecture and the most advanced technology all come together. Here, from 16th to 28th May 2017 will be on stage The Magic Flute, opera in two acts (music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).
5 - Rossini’s Barber of Seville, in Venice
One of the many great treasures of Venice is La Fenice Opera House. With its gilded auditorium and exquisite artwork and carvings, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Here, from 23rd May to 6th June will be on stage the most popular of Rossini’s comic operas: The Barber of Seville. Inaugurated in 1792, La Fenice was destined to become throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the theatre of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. It has become a true legend: the embodiment of the symbol of the phoenix, the mythical bird which is always reborn from its ashes. It happened in 1836, with the first fire, and with the even more dramatic one in December 1996.
6 - Arena Opera Festival in Verona
It is not every day that you can attend a performance sitting on 2,000 years of history! This is possible in the lovely historic town of Verona, in the Veneto region. Its most important monument is the Roman amphitheatre dating back I century AD, called simply “the Arena”. During Roman times it was used for spectacles of gladiator fighting; in Medieval times and until the mid eighteenths century, for games and tournaments. From 1913, the Arena has evolved into the first true and most important open-air opera theatre in the world. Here, during the summer months (from 23rd June to 26th August) takes place the Arena Opera Festival. Several operas are scheduled, including Verdi’s masterpieces Aida, Nabucco and Rigoletto.
For help planning and customize the most memorable Italian tours, search no further. Contact us for more information about our authentic experiences, tailor made for you.by Arianna on Jan 4, 2017