Monday, June 22, 2009


This weekend we took a brief trip to visit two cities in northern Italy. We started off in Verona, the city of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, as well as an important Roman city. The weather was quite agreeable -- it had rained on the drive, but was sunny and warm when we got to the sightseeing part, and we enjoyed walking around the historical city center. One of our first stops was the Basilica di San Zeno, dedicated to Verona's patron saint (and the location of his embalmed body). This was a nicely frescoed Romanesque church with some great stonework on the facade, and an elaborate set of bronze doors with biblical scenes (they especially seemed to like the parts with beheadings). After that we walked towards the Roman Arena, an imposing sight even today, and picked up our tickets for that night's performance. Further sights included Juliet's house (with balcony), the Piazza delle Erbe, and the Duomo.
After killing a bit of time, we headed back towards the arena in order to line up for seats. Since we had gotten the cheapest seats on the stone steps, we got there a little before 7:30, when the gates opened, but there was already quite a long line. Luckily, we were prepared for the arena experience and had brought our own cushions, and some picnic food for dinner. The opera, "Aida" began at around 9:15 and lasted until after 1am. By this time it was quite cool, and there was a bit of wind the whole time, so the jackets we had brought with us were necessary. But to get to the main event... the opera was fantastic. We were sitting quite high up straight across from the stage, and you could still hear the singing as clear as in an indoor theater (sure, it wasn't as loud, and every now and then the wind would blow in the wrong direction), which was amazing, as nothing was amplified. It surely helped that the singers were excellent. Fabio Armiliato as Radames and Daniela Dessì as Aida were world-class and both had powerful voices. The triumphal march was as grand as could be expected from this traditional 1913 production. I was impressed by this evening and would certainly recommend seeing an opera there.

No comments: