The Italian opera, recently recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, was celebrated in its most iconic home and the world’s biggest open theater: the Arena di Verona. The 101st Arena di Verona Opera Festival began last night, Friday, June 7, with La Grande Opera Italiana Patrimonio dell’Umanità (The Great Italian Opera, a UNESCO World Heritage). This unforgettable night featured the most beautiful pages of opera performed by today’s greatest artists.

The ceremony was attended by important authorities, including President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, emphasizing its significance.

An evening of stars

Many prominent talents, including Maestro Riccardo Muti, étoile dancers Roberto Bolle and Nicoletta Manni, and Anna Netrebko, appeared on the same stage in an evening hosted by Alberto Angela, Cristiana Capotondi, and Luca Zingaretti. The ensemble included a grand orchestra of 160 members and a choir of 300 artists from Italian lyrical and symphonic foundations.

Riccardo Muti and an extraordinary concert

The evening opened with performances of symphonies and choruses from the operas Guglielmo Tell, Norma, Macbeth, Nabucco, Manon Lescaut, and Mefistofele in the world’s largest open-air theater. Maestro Riccardo Muti, a global symbol of Italian brilliance, directed the orchestra.

A tribute to the composers who made Opera history

The second half of the evening honored famous composers who elevated the art of opera, including Georges Bizet, Gioachino Rossini, Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Umberto Giordano, and Pietro Mascagni.

Anna Netrebko charmed the audience as Tosca, Eleonora Buratto offered a perfect version of “Un bel dì vedremo” from Madama Butterfly, Rosa Feola captivated with “Tu che di gel sei cinta” from Turandot, and Vittorio Grigolo delighted with the legendary “Nessun Dorma” (Turandot). Grigolo andFeola also captivated the crowd with “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (La Traviata), while Jonas Kaufmann delivered the iconic “E lucevan le stelle” (Tosca).

The evening saw numerous artists who moved the audience, filling the Arena di Verona: Juan Diego Flórez, Aigul Akhmetshina, Sofia Koberidze, Daniela Cappiello, Nicola Alaimo, Gianluca Buratto, Juliana Grigoryan, Brian Jagde, Francesco Meli, Jessica Pratt, Galeano Salas, Luca Salsi, Matteo Macchioni, Mariangela Sicilia, and Ludovic Tézier, under the direction of young conductor Francesco Ivan Ciampa.

Grand dance performances

An innovative set design, created by Fondazione Arena di Verona and Filippo Tonon, housed the orchestra and choir on stage and transformed the pit into a new scenic space for another Italian excellence: dance. Massimiliano Volpini created two original choreographies, which were performed for the first time last night by étoiles Roberto Bolle and Nicoletta Manni.

The two La Scala di Milano étoiles performed a pas de deux on the notes of Madama Butterfly, followed by Bolle’s solo on Cavalleria Rusticana to the music of great masters like Giacomo Puccini, whose centenary is being commemorated this year. The event also included 50 dancers from the Fondazione Arena ballet company.

Photo Credits: Quirinale