Aida is the principal opera of the Arena Festival. It inaugurated the opera season at the Verona Arena backing 1913. Since then 41 different productions have followed one another with a total of 397 performances. Almost 6 million people have seen the Verdi masterpiece: a record figure which highlights the importance of the Arena at the world level and greatness of Giuseppe Verdi´s art…


On our short visit to the Arena, the Aida crews were busy setting up their stage for their performance this season… But we are yet to witness the great performance in the great venue…


The orgin of opera in the Arena

In the summer of 1913 the veronese tenor Giovanni Zenatello decided that Verona should celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi. He came up with the idea of staging a grand opera performance in the Arena. The tenor, his wife mezzo soprano Maria Gay, two veronese friends, the chorus master Ferruccio Cusinati and the theater impresario Ottone Rovato all thought that Aida, Verdi´s most spectacular opera, would be the ideal one to set against the backdrop of the grandiose Arena. In order to test the accoustics, Tullio Serafin was invited to listen to the sound of a violin, an oboe and a flute. It proved to be perfect – the notes did not dispel at all in the air, rather, the sound ran through the auditorium as clearly as it did in an indoor theater.


The cast of the first Aida included the best artists of the time: Radames was Zenatello himself, Aida was Ester Mazzoleni, Amneris was Maria Gay, Tullio Serafin held the podium. The young veronese architect, Ettore Fagiuoli, designed the sets. The result was wonderful for the few elements he placedon the huge stage did not hinder the sight of the ancient Roman steps.


This Aida was one of the most important events on theinternational scene of the early 20th century. Thousands of spectators from all around the world flocked to Verona. Critics, journalists, musician, writers such as Puccini, Boito, Mascagni, Pizzetti, Zandonai, Gorkij and Kafka sat among the audience. The leading international newspapers wrote about the event which was a huge success: the greatest outdoor opera season in the world was born. Today, 88 years from the debut, the Arena hosts over 500 thousand persons each summer for various productions spanning about 50 evenings.