««Come and rejoice with us!». Soprano Cecilia Gasdia, superintendent and artistic director of the Foundation since 2018, mentions the triumphal march of theAida presenting the 2023 edition of theArena di Verona Opera Festival. Not just any quote (Aida is the queen, the symbol par excellence of the representations in the Roman amphitheater) for not just any edition: the oldest opera festival in the world celebrates 100 yearsbeing born on August 10, 1913 on the initiative of Veronese tenor Giovanni Zenatello and by the impresario Ottone Rovato. Inaugural title? Aida, ça va sans dire… Which in turn, a century ago, was chosen to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the author, Giuseppe Verdi.

    “La traviata” at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival.

    There will also be Bubbles

    Cecilia Gasdia – who has always played at home at the Arena festival, not only because she was born in Verona, but because here she made her debut first as an extra, then as an artist in the choir, finally as a protagonist – starts by illustrating the special events. There will be five: Bubbles & Friends (which the star brought here for the first time in 2012), recitals by Jonas Kaufmann, Juan Diego Flórez and Plácido Domingo with the extraordinary participation of Josè Carreras (remember the Three Tenors?). A participation, that of the Spanish tenor and baritone, which is somewhat surprising after the allegations of sexual harassment and after last year’s flops in the Arena both as a singer and as an orchestra conductor. «The commitment with him had already been made two years ago» says sincerely Stefano Trespidi, deputy artistic director of the Arena di Verona Foundationbefore charitably blaming the failures on the heat and humidity…

    Maria Callas made her debut here

    The flagship of the “extras”, according to Gasdia, is thehe participation for the first time of the choir and orchestra of Stairsdirected by Riccardo Chailly: the green concert on August 31st it will mark for them the beginning of the European tour. «We used to be called “La Scala in the summer”: when the theaters closed for holidays, the major performers came to perform here» recalls the soprano, who adds a few anecdotes on the glorious history of this festival: «Maria Callas (whose birth centenary occurs, ed) debuted here in 1947 in The Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli. She had arrived very poor with a cardboard suitcase: her incredible debut marked the beginning of her ascent. Then she also married a Veronese… ».

    Set-up records

    Jonas Kaufmann and Ludovic Tézier, on stage at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival.

    For the Arena di Verona Opera Festival 2023 the number of operas rises from the traditional five to eight productions instead of 5, and the titles have been chosen from the most acclaimed ones of the last 50 years. Obviously Aida, but in the new production by Stefano Poda. Director Marco Armiliato, protagonists will be Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov. In the role of the princess, given that there will be 13 performances, they will alternate with the Russian soprano Anna Pirozzi (who will also be seen in Abigaille from Nabucco), Maria José Siri and the young Monica Conesa.

    They will follow from June 23 the Carmen by Bizet (directed by Frank Zeffirelli, on the podium Daniel Oren, who has reached his 38-year uninterrupted career in the Arena); from 24 June The Barber of Seville by Rossini second Hugo de Ana; from July 1st on Rigoletto with the absolute debut of Eyvazov in the role of the Duke of Mantua (“He is a dramatic tenor but has an elastic voice” Gasdia guarantees).

    And again: from 8 July The Traviata by Verdi second Zeffirelli with the delightful Lisette Oropesa, who will alternate with Nadine Sierra and, for the last performance, with Netrebko, for whom the role of Violetta has always been a strong point. From July 15th Nabucco by Verdi, directed by Gianfranco de Bosio; from 29 July Tuscany by Puccini in the preparation of de Ana. From 12 August Madame Butterfly by PucciniStill by Zeffirelli.

    More stars than in the sky

    Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, loyal guests of the Arena di Verona Opera Festival (photo Julian Hargreaves).

    Truly impressive is the number of opera stars who will take turns on stage. Think of your favorite artist, and there probably is. In addition to the already mentioned (Kaufmann, Flórez, Netrebko), the catalog of stars is this: Piotr Beczala, Benjamin Bernheim, Javier Camarena, Aida Garifullina, Asmik Grigorian, Roberto Alagna, Eleonora Buratto, Freddie De Tommaso, ElīnaGaranča, Vittorio Grigolo, Korchak, Luca Micheletti, Piero Pretti, Sondra Radvanovsky, Luca Salsi , Erwin Schrott, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Marina Viotti, Sonya Yoncheva. And they didn’t end there..

    Anna Netrebko and Yusif Evyazov, united in lyricism and style (pop)

    350 thousand spectators

    Lisette Oropesa protagonist at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival (photo Crystal Green).

    The goal of the centenary edition festival is to surpass the more than satisfactory result of 2022, going from 350,000 to 400,000 spectators. «50 percent are represented by foreign tourists: of these, 85 percent comes from Germany and Austria» Gasdia explained to iO Woman. «There are 13,576 seats available and there are tickets for all budgets, from €18.50 upwards». Six hundred million euros are the induced activities generated in the 70 days of the demonstration, which mobilizes 1400 workers.

    Romantic curiosity

    Luca Micheletti will be at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival (photo Fabio Anselmini).

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    A very, very romantic curiosity: the inaugural and last performance of the astray they will see on stage i first dancers of the Teatro alla Scala who right here became the protagonists of an episode that went viral: during the Bubbles & Friends Timofei Andrijashenko asked to marry his colleague Nicoletta Manni. And they lived happily ever after.