Italy is the home and heart of opera – but if you would rather book to see your dentist or accountant than go to the opera, there is a way you can enjoy opera in Rome in an informal setting without busting the budget or having to wear a bow tie or tiara.
Why should anyone want to go to the opera in Rome?
Opera developed in Italy in the 17th century and so it is part of the cultural heritage of the country – and, like bungee jumping, it is an experience to be tried at least once, just to see if you like it. So where better to see your first opera than in the place of its birth?
For those who have never been to see opera – and perhaps would rather play Grand Theft Auto than sit through the Three Tenors – nothing beats the sound and experience of live music and hearing operatic voices live; especially in an intimate and informal setting, where you have the opportunity to sit close to the musicians and the singers.
Rome has an opera house and theatres – including the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – but opera and classical music concerts are held in a variety of venues all over the city, with both lunchtime and evening performances.
Search for concerts and opera online at Classictic.com, where you can book and print out your tickets. Most events cost between 20-40 euros, with student discounts available.
One of the most informal and acoustically impressive venues is the historic All Saints Anglican Church on the Via del Babuino, just off the Piazza di Spagna. Don’t be put off by the fact the venue is a church – the acoustics are amazing and the orchestra and singers will be almost within touching distance if you sit at the front, so there is a real immediacy to the performance. It is also a very informal atmosphere, with few of the protocols that sometimes deter people from going to see a classical concert or opera. The musicians wander about front-of-house before the concert – and the principals are often on hand at the exit after the show to bid you farewell.
One of the resident companies is the Accademia d’Opera Italiana, which has recently been performing Verdi’s La Traviata and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in repertory. Most of the company members have sung at established opera houses.
La Traviata is the perfect introduction to live opera – there is a hit tune every time the band strikes up and you will have the chance to hear a first-rate company, with stunning performances from the principals. The company also has some accomplished actors among its ranks, so all those rumours you have heard about opera singers not being able to act are simply blown out of the rectory door in this performance.
There is a snippet of La Traviata in the intro to the company’s website and an online CD of the company singing popular arias, including the company’s principal tenors Sandro Ferri singing E Lucevan le Stelle from Tosca and Marco Bianchi singing Nessun Dorma from Turandot – two of the most widely-known operatic arias which you will most likely be familiar with.
Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons is another hit machine – the company’s orchestra is impeccable and you can expect standing ovations and encores at the end of a concert.
There are also classical concerts staged in Rome at the Teatro Olimpico, Teatro Marcello, Teatro Nazionale – and venues which offer music, theatre or dance, such as the Teatro Argentina and Teatro Brancaccio; as well as performances in other church settings such as Chiesa di San Paolo entro le Mura.
Classictic.com will have details of what is scheduled at each venue at the time you are visiting Rome – and there is usually plenty of choice.
So all that remains to say is Toi, toi, toi* – and enjoy!
(*break a leg, in opera speak)