The Arena Opera Festival has confirmed the dates, operas, and stellar casts as originally scheduled, starting with the return of Riccardo Muti, 41 years after his only appearance on the Arena's podium.
In compliance with the Covid-19 safety measures, Fondazione Arena di Verona will present five new productions that will be less structural and more technological than the more traditional fare the Arena is famous for, with video projections covering large areas of the enormous space.
The pandemic “therefore becomes an opportunity for interpretative renewal, and bears witness with hard facts to the excellent work by the Arena's various departments, who will show their skills by realizing every new production with great teamwork”.
The casts remain unchanged for Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, Aida, Nabucco, Traviata, Turandot, Verdi's Requiem (18 July), Domingo Opera Night (30 July), Roberto Bolle and Friends (3 August), Jonas Kaufmann Gala Event (17 August) and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (22 August), with an impressive array of first-rate voices.
|The protagonists of the 98th Arena di Verona Opera Festival: Riccardo Muti, Roberto Alagna, Marcelo Álvarez, Roberto Aronica, Anna Maria Chiuri, Jorge de León, Plácido Domingo, Amartuvshin Enkhbat, Yusif Eyvazov, Aida Garifullina, Alberto Gazale, Vittorio Grigolo, Saioa Hernández, Maida Hundeling, Ruth Iniesta, Murat Karahan, Jonas Kaufmann, Aleksandra Kurzak, Ambrogio Maestri, Angela Meade, Francesco Meli, Chris Merritt, Anna Netrebko, Lisette Oropesa, Ailyn Pérez, Michele Pertusi, George Petean, Olesya Petrova, Simone Piazzola, Saimir Pirgu, Anna Pirozzi, Anita Rachvelishvili, Marina Rebeka, Katia Ricciarelli, Luca Salsi, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Valeria Sepe, María José Siri, Rafał Siwek, Carlo Ventre, Sonya Yoncheva, Elena Zilio…|
The stage, which was placed in the centre of the ‘stalls' area last summer, will return to its original position and there will be a leitmotif to these new projects.
Verona's Mayor and President of Fondazione Arena di Verona, Federico Sboarina, says,
After exactly a year from the first lockdown, the situation is still very serious. There is a lack of certainty regarding the future and what we shall experience in the coming weeks and months. However, like last year, even if with even greater difficulties due to a year of crisis, Fondazione Arena is ready to start again.
For the special 2020 edition, an incredible effort was required, postponing until this year the festival that had been programmed prior to the pandemic. A year ago, we were convinced that the emergency would have ended by the summer of 2021, but on the contrary, we still have to cope with an equally complicated situation. Nevertheless, as promised, this year we shall do what we said to ensure the lights go up on the Arena's stage. A challenge we want to win with innovation, extraordinary commitment and the courage that distinguishes us and enabled us to turn on the music even in the horrible Covid year.
General Manager and Artistic Director, Cecilia Gasdia, adds,
Our priority during these last very difficult 13 months was to safeguard culture, music, art, theatre, the Arena's international image and the work, by both Fondazione Arena staff and the large community of artists and freelance workers, who are the greatest assets of every theatre throughout the world. I felt the responsibility of bringing to life artistic seasons that conferred further quality to the Arena's touch and imprint, in spite of the hundreds of difficulties, to carry a legacy of esteem and prestige unscathed towards the future.
This year more than ever before, being General Manager for me means being the “helmsman” of a community that is both local and international, including numerous spectators from all over the world who have trusted us, continuing to purchase tickets, in spite of the world's great uncertainties.
The participation of great couples on stage as well as in life has been confirmed, from Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, who, following the extraordinary experience in 2019, return for three performances of Turandot, to Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak, together for a very rare performance in both the roles of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. Also to be remembered is the debut of Jonas Kaufmann and the welcome return of stars Plácido Domingo and Roberto Bolle. There is also the return of Katia Ricciarelli in the role of Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana.
As well as these events, already programmed for 2020 and rescheduled in 2021, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the world premiere at Cairo Opera House in 1871, Fondazione Arena has added an inauguration with Aida, the Arena audiences' most popular opera, with Riccardo Muti. The cast of the two evenings (19 and 22 June) features soprano Sonya Yoncheva making her debut as Aida, Francesco Meli as Radamès, Anita Rachvelishvili as Amneris and Riccardo Zanellato as Ramfis.
Another tribute to Giuseppe Verdi, on the 120th anniversary of his death, is his Requiem conducted by Speranza Scappucci, making her Arena debut. Other conductors for this year are Marco Armiliato, Daniel Oren, Francesco Ivan Ciampa and Jader Bignamini, as well as debuts by Diego Matheuz and Jochen Rieder.
Top photo: Roberto Bolle, Arena di Verona, photo by Andrej Uspenski
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.