The Arena di Verona is situated on the Piazza Bra and was built in AD 30. At that time this area was outside the city walls, the Emperor Gallienus later extended the walls so to protect the arena. The arena (or Ampitheatre) could seat more than 30,000 spectators who would come from far and wide to see the gladiatorial games, hunts and other spectacular events which ,even in those days were famous. The round facade of the building was originally built from pink and white limestone from Valpolicello but following an earthquake in 1117 which destroyed most of the structure, the stone was quarried for other uses. In size and importance it is only second to the Colosseum and it is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.
Today the Arena is internationally famous for its large-scale opera performances which are staged here for enormous crowds, just as the original Roman games, and on the largest stage in the world. The first attempts at mounting operatic performances here, and bringing the arena back to being as a Theatre, were during the Renaissance era, this was brought about due to its outstanding acoustics. In 1913 the Operas were statred in earnest due to the imagination and energy of the Italian opera tenor Giovanni Zenatello and the impresario Ottone Rovato. The first 20th century opera performed in the Arena was Guiseppe Verdi’s Aida, on the 10 August 1013 which also marked the birth of Verdi 100 yeqrs earlier in 1813. Since this time summer seasons of opera have been held here continuously, with breaks only during the two world wars. There are four productions in the Arena held between June and August.
Modern-day travellers are advised that admission tickets to sit on the arena’s stone steps are much cheaper to buy than tickets giving access to the padded chairs available on lower levels. Candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena which produces some of the most beautiful sights.
In recent times, the arena has also hosted several concerts of international rock and pop bands, among which Pink Floyd, Alicia Keys, One Direction, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, Deep Purple, The Who, Dire Straits, Mike Oldfield, Rod Stewart, Sting, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Björk,Muse, Paul McCartney, and Whitney Houston.
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