by Bob & Nancy Bestor
We spent a week in Verona this past summer, and of the many sites and events on our must-do list, I was most looking forward to seeing the opera Aida at the outdoor Roman arena. The amphitheatre, built in AD 30, seats more than 15,000 people.
We had tickets for the cheap seats (about $28 euros each), packed in shoulder to shoulder with others right on the stone benches of the amphitheatre. The arena was full, with well-to-do opera aficionados on the red-carpeted floor of the amphitheatre, dressed to the nines, and the riff raff, sitting in shorts and other casual clothes, filling the benches all the way to the top around the arena. After being herded into the low price section like cattle, we settled in to our not so comfortable “seats” to await the start of the 9:15 evening show. At the last minute, Sarah and I had to bail out on the show, but Bob and Emily remained. This is their story. ~ Nancy
Let’s just say that my musical tastes lean a little less…..cultured. With virtually no prior opera experience we had done our homework and knew two important things: Aida dies in the end and the opera is four acts long.
But even our untrained ears, from the very first notes, knew that this was a special performance. First off remember that the venue is an outdoor two-thousand-year-old stadium that seats 15,000. Yet the opera was performed without the aid of a modern sound system. No microphones, no speakers, no megaphones, no pre-recorded music, etc. And yet there we sat, well into the cheap seats dozens of rows up, and both the orchestra and the singers came through clear as a bell.