Were you born in 1913? Well, not only have you led a long and hopefully happy life, you now have the opportunity to take advantage of seeing an Opera performance at the Verona Opera Arena absolutely FREE. The Arena is enjoying its 100th year and would like you to join them in their celebrations whilst they once again fill the ancient and atmospheric amphitheatre with sublime music. This celebration coincides with the bicentenary of the birth of Verdi and the schedule will include stagings of some of his greatest works, including Nabucco and Rigoletto.
Frenchman Joseph Caprari was the first to take advantage of the offer, enjoying a free performance of Aida
OK, lets see if we can tempt you: here is a summary (in laymans terms), of Verdis’ Operas available this
This is the most popular and well known Opera offered. Aida, an Ethiopian princess, is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radamès, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. He does not know that she is the daughter of the Ethiopian king. To complicate the story further, Radamès is loved by the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris, although he does not return her feelings.
The story takes place in the time of the Pharaohs, with Egypt and Ethiopia at war but alongside runs this beautiful love story, with lovers, betrayal, trust and redemption
Nabucco is the opera which is considered to have permanently established Verdi's reputation as a composer. He commented that "this is the opera with which my artistic career really begins. And though I had many difficulties to fight against, it is certain that Nabucco was born under a lucky star.
It follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered, and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco. The historical events are used as background for a romantic
and political plot. The best-known number from the opera is the "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves," - "Fly, thought, on golden wings," a chorus which is regularly given an encore.
This story is very similar to one of my favourite films, Pretty Woman. The character of Vivan in the film is an old, Hollywood staple — the "hooker with a heart of gold. "Verdi's La Traviata is the story of Violetta Valery, a glamorous Parisian courtesan. Both Violeta and Vivian meet up with just the right guy — and they both have to think seriously about the difference between their place in polite society, and that of their new illicit affairs.
Vivian, in true Hollywood style, is swept away by her new lover, amidst the promise of a brand new life of luxury and bliss. And if Verdi had lived in a different era, when operas nearly always had happy endings, Violetta might have done just as well.
Vivid characters and lively music have made Rigoletto a long-time favourite of both performers and audiences, second only to Aïda among Verdi's works.
Rigolettos tragic story revolves around the lecherous Duke of Mantua and is set in the 16th Century. The story is built around the Dukes bitter hunch-backed court jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto's beautiful daughter Gilda. The womanising Duke approaches Gilda and declares his love for her, she too discovers a passion for him.
Rigoletto then hires an assassin, Sparafucile to kill the duke, but the assassins sister Maddalena, convinces her brother to murder a random victim instead. Knowing she will be murdered, Gilda appears
in disguise, is stabbed, stuffed in a sack and delivered to Rigoletto in place of the Dukes body. At the last minute, the horrified hunchback opens the sack and discovers his daughter, who whispers
her last words of love for the duke and dies.
None of the Operas have quite the happy ending we are used to in 21st Century dramatisations but they are certainly powerful and leave you wanting more.