Aida - Verona Arena 2020

The ‘Queen’ of the Arena di Verona’s Opera titles Aida, will be staged from June 20th 2020, in 16 performances with the impressive production created in 2002 by the genius of Franco Zeffirelli, who recreates an ancient Egypt that is magnificent and multi-coloured, thanks also to the iconic costumes created by Anna Anni, on a set dominated by a huge golden pyramid, expressly conceived and designed for the Arena’s wide spaces.

 

ACT I

There is wind of war in Memphis. Ramfis, the High Priest and secret power of the State, informs Radames, captain of the guards, that the Ethiopians are about to invade Egypt. The idea of a war stimulates Radames, a man of ambition and courage. He hopes the god Isis will appoint him supreme commander of the army. He dreams of glory, and everything seems possible. War, for him, is also an occasion to appear valiant before the eyes of the woman he secretly loves: Aida, an Ethiopian slave in the service of Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter.

The Egyptian princess is also in love with Radames. Intuitive by nature, though, she immediately suspects she has a rival in this slave but prefers to conceal her jealousy with double cunning. Meanwhile, Aida’s heart is heavy with anxiety: her country is at war, yet at the same time, a love links her to a new world.

A fanfare sounds and a majestic choral scene overrides individual conflicts and aspirations. The leaders of the State meet to plan a war strategy. The King and Ramfis stand out as personalities who have no individual identity, personifying a power which crushes anyone who stands in their way.

After a messenger arrives to confirm that the Ethiopians have invaded under the leadership of King Amonasro, the Pharaoh announces that the Oracle has chosen Radames to be commander-in-chief.

Everyone is thrilled and urges him to return home victorious. Aida, in private, grieves: she hopes Radames will be victorious but at the same time, wants her father, Amonasro to destroy the Egyptian troops. Desperate, full of repressed anxiety, she prays to the gods for mercy.

The rite of investiture as commander-in-chief takes place in the Temple of Vulcan. Against a background of singing and dancing, a silver veil is placed on Radames’s head while Ramfis hands him the consecrated sword. The commander-in-chief has received a blessing, hence it is a just war

albeit set on destruction.


ACT II

Amneris is in her apartment preparing for Radames’s triumphant return. Her double-cross with Aida proceeds astutely. She is friendly to her but leads their conversation to the issue most dear to her, putting the slave’s feelings to the test: Radames, she informs her with studied indifference, has been killed in battle. Aida’s desperation at hearing this news now confirms Amneris’s suspicions. She reveals the deception and admits the truth: Radames is alive, but she, too, is in love with him. Furious, the Pharaoh’s daughter threatens revenge.

In Scene 2 private fates are forgotten as marches, dances, hymns and fanfares welcome the victorious army at Thebes. Radames enters at the end of the triumphal procession. The King promises to grant all Radames’s wishes. The Ethiopian prisoners file past, too and Aida recognizes one of them, her father Amonasro dressed as a simple officer who speaks on behalf of all the hostages, asking for clemency. Ramfis invites the King to show no pity while Radames requests that the prisoners be granted life and freedom. The King reaches a compromise: Aida and Amonasro will remain hostages in Egypt as guarantors of peace, all the others will be released. The marriage of Amneris to the triumphant Radames is announced. In an atmosphere of general repudiation, Amonasro meditates revenge. Aida and Radames are desperate. With private sentiments and great collective emotions manipulated and organized according to a fanatical ritual, any kind of conciliation is impossible.


ACT III

At night, on the banks of the Nile, Amneris goes into the temple of Isis to pray. It is the eve of her wedding. Aida also arrives, secretly: she has an appointment with Radames. Filled with anxiety and nostalgia, Aida evokes the wide open spaces of her homeland, sings her love for her lost country, symbol of a promised happiness that has vanished.

Amonasro appears unexpectedly, and organizes an ambush against the Egyptian army. He has realised that Aida and Radames are linked and he takes advantage of his daughter’s feelings to work out a strategy. With deceptive sweetness, he promises her return home, glory and love but he poses a condition: her loved one must divulge the route of the Egyptian troops. Aida tries to oppose this but her father’s curse and her sense of guilt should her people be massacred lead her to giving in. Plagiarised, Aida faces the meeting with her loved one, explaining the reasons for which the only solution possible is her escape. She manages to convince him, using seduction and sensuality. Radames reveals the military plans she wants but Amonasro, inopportunely, appears and reveals his identity, frustrating everyone.

The situation worsens. Amneris, who has overheard the conversation, comes out of the temple, crying of betrayal. Amonasro hurls himself at her to kill her, but Radames blocks him, hands over his sword to Ramfis and has himself arrested. Aida flees with her father. Her dream of love is now shattered forever, on the banks of the Nile.


ACT IV

In a room of the King’s palace, Amneris is now in despair. Her pride hurt, she is torn between

anger and love, between her wish to save Radames or to ruin him. In the end she decides to save him. She has him brought before her and begs him to prove his innocence: she will ask the King for mercy.

Radames refuses, claiming he has betrayed unintentionally and, having lost Aida, says he would prefer to die. He resists Amneris’s flattery, even when she reveals that Aida is still alive and she promises to save him if he renounces his love for the slave girl.

Radames is taken back to prison. The priests come to give their verdict. Ramfis’s accusations can be heard in the distance, in contrast with the silence of the accused followed by the diatribe of the holy ministers. The sentence arrives quickly: Radames is guilty and will be buried alive. Amneris seeks to save him, but her intervention is of no use in the light of the cruelty of the priests, the real bearers of power. Not even the Pharaoh’s daughter can oppose the repressive apparatus of the State, the implacable mechanisms of military and religious organisation.

In the Temple of Vulcan, the priests bury Radames under a tombstone. Aida, however, is already hiding there, having entered the crypt secretly, to die alongside her beloved. He is desperate; she sees the angel of death approaching and with it, eternal joy. The temple is now invaded by light

and a defeated Amneris prays for peace. A single, sinister note sounds repeatedly. In the obscure underground where they are buried, Aida and Radames are immersed in a sea of musical light, heralding another world beyond this where they will enjoy the happiness that has been denied them on Earth.
 

Program and cast

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Verona Arena

The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy built in 30 AD. It is still in use today and is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.

 

Amphitheatre

The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The ludi (shows and games) staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places, often far away, to witness them. The amphitheatre could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times.

The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure's outer ring, except for the so-called "ala", the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings. Nevertheless it impressed medieval visitors to the city, one of whom considered it to have been a labyrinth, without ingress or egress. Ciriaco d'Ancona was filled with admiration for the way it had been built and Giovanni Antonio Panteo's civic panegyric De laudibus veronae, 1483, remarked that it struck the viewer as a construction that was more than human.

 

Musical theatre

 

The first interventions to recover the arena's function as a theatre began during the Renaissance. Some operatic performances were later mounted in the building during the 1850s, owing to its outstanding acoustics.

And in 1913, operatic performances in the arena commenced in earnest due to the zeal and initiative of the Italian operatenor Giovanni Zenatello and the impresario Ottone Rovato. The first 20th-century operatic production at the arena, a staging of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, took place on 10 August of that year, to mark the birth of Verdi 100 years before in 1813. Musical luminaries such as Puccini and Mascagni were in attendance. Since then, summer seasons of opera have been mounted continually at the arena, except in 1915–18 and 1940–45, when Europe was convulsed in war.

Nowadays, at least four productions (sometimes up to six) are mounted each year between June and August. During the winter months, the local opera and ballet companies perform at the L'Accademia Filarmonica.

Modern-day travellers are advised that admission tickets to sit on the arena's stone steps are much cheaper to buy than tickets giving access to the padded chairs available on lower levels. Candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena.

Every year over 500,000 people see productions of the popular operas in this arena.[3] Once capable of housing 20,000 patrons per performance (now limited to 15,000 because of safety reasons), the arena has featured many of world's most notable opera singers. In the post-World War II era, they have included Giuseppe Di Stefano, Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi and Renata Tebaldi among other names. A number of conductors have appeared there, too. The official arena shop has historical recordings made by some of them available for sale.

The opera productions in the Verona Arena had not used any microphones or loudspeakers until an electronic sound reinforcement system was installed in 2011.

 

How to reach Verona

 

By Car
Verona is easily reached by taking:
- the A4 Motorway SERENISSIMA, Milan-Venice, exit Verona Sud.
- or by taking the A22 Motorway Brennero-Modena, followed by the A4 Motorway Milan-Venice, direction Venice, exit Verona Sud.
Then follow the signs for all directions ('tutte le direzioni) followed by the signs for the city centre. 
Approximative distances from Verona by Motorways:
Vicenza km 51 Venezia km 114 Florence km 230 
Brescia km 68 Bologna km 142 Rome km 600 
Padova km 84 Bolzano km 157 Naples km 800 
Trento km 103 Milan km 161 

By Bus
The city centre is linked to the surrounding towns and villages, as well as Lake Garda, by a public transport bus service (the buses are blue in colour) which can be accessed at the bus station, situated directly opposite the train station (APTV Service). Click here for timetables and routes. 


By Train
The main railway station is VERONA PORTA NUOVA, which is the crossroads of both the Milan - Venice line and the Brennero - Rome line. 
There are direct trains and InterCity trains from all the main railway stations in the north of Italy throughout the day. 
Duration of trip : from Padua 40 minutes; from Vicenza 30 minutes; from Venice 1½ hours; from Milan 2 hours and from Rome 5 hours. 
City buses can be taken from the train station to the city centre and arrive in Piazza Bra, the central square where the Arena Amphitheatre is found. 
The Bus numbers are 11, 12, 13, 14, 72 and 73. 

By Plane
Verona's international Airport Catullo in Villafranca is situated approximately 10 km S-W of the city centre. 
There is a shuttle bus service to and from the airport approximately every 20 minutes from 06.10 to 23.30. 
The airport bus terminal is outside Porta Nuova Railway Station. 
Brescia Montichiari Airport which is situated approximately 52 kilometres from Verona, is also linked to Verona Porta Nuova Train station by a shuttle bus which runs approximately twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Again the bus terminal is outside Porta Nuova Railway Station. 

 

Parking  - Getting by car and parking next to the Arena
 

From highway A4 or A22 get the exit for Verona Sud.
Follow the signal “tutte le direzioni” (all directions) and then Verona city centre. 

Parking Arena
Via M.Bentegodi,8 - Verona - 37122

Parking Arsenale
Piazza Arsenale,8 - Verona - 37126

Parking Isolo
Via Ponte Pignolo, 6/c - Verona - 37129

Parking Polo Zanotto
Viale Università,4 - Verona - 37129

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