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Fondazione Arena di Verona
The Arena di Verona Foundation was founded in 1998 following the transformation (sanctioned by Legislative Decree) of the autonomous Italian opera bodies into foundations governed by private law. The Foundation organizes and manages the Summer Opera Festival at the Verona Arena and the Artistic Season of the Philharmonic Theater in the winter.

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Philharmonic Theater

The Opera Festival at the Verona Arena saw the light on August 10, 1913, with the first performance of Aida wanted by the Veronese tenor Giovanni Zenatello and the theatrical impresario Ottone Rovato to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi.

Under the wand of Tullio Serafin, Ester Mazzoleni played the role of Aida, Maria Gay that of Amneris, Radames was played by Zenatello himself, Ramfis by Mansueto Gaudio and Amonasro by Giuseppe Danise.

It was a triumphal success: thousands of spectators flocked to Verona from all over Italy and the world, Americans, Argentines, English, French, Russians, Germans, Dutch, Spaniards. Attended the 'first' critics, journalists, musicians, including Puccini, Boito, Mascagni, Pizzetti, Zandonai; among the writers sat in the audience Maxim Gorky is Franz Kafka.

The greatest open-air opera season in the world was born, which for over a hundred years (except for two brief interruptions during the great wars) every summer transforms the Roman amphitheater into a gigantic opera house with the most sumptuous and spectacular on the international scene.

The theatrical organization of the Arenian seasons underwent numerous transformations: initially managed by various private individuals - including Zenatello and the musical publisher Sonzogno - from 1930 it passed to the Verona Fair Authority, then to the Municipal Entertainment Authority, until its creation in 1936 ofAutonomous Lyric Show Arena of Verona (Lyrical Ente Arena di Verona). The Autonomous Body managed the performances from then until 1998, when by Legislative Decree, as well as all the other Italian opera bodies, it was transformed into a foundation under private law, giving life to the current Fondazione Arena di Verona.

The Fondazione Arena di Verona currently organizes and manages the Arena Opera Festival and the winter season at the Philharmonic Theater - started in 1976 - which includes symphonic concerts, opera and ballet performances.


The Arena

The Verona Arena, built in 30 d. C., is one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters. The construction, with an elliptical plan, with a cavea formed by 45 steps, has a maximum size (major axis x minor axis) of 152.43 mx 123.23 m, or 520 x 420 Roman feet, while the internal oval (l 'arena proper) measures 75.68 mx 44.43 m, or 250 x 150 Roman feet, with a ratio between major and minor axis of 5 to 3. Dimensions that place the Verona Arena in eighth place among all the Roman amphitheaters and the fourth among those existing in Italy.

Subject of restorations and conservative interventions since 1200, the Arena over the centuries hosted shows of all kinds, from ancient gladiator fights to tournaments and 'jousting' (the first documented dates back to 1590, the last, in honor of the Prince elector of Bavaria, to 1716), duels, ballets, circus and prose shows, and not infrequently, bullfights (one of them was also attended by Napoleon in 1805). In the nineteenth century horse riding competitions and velocipedistic competitions, acrobatic gymnastic exercises, comedy and bingo games, and balloon ascension shows were much appreciated.

The Arena Opera Festival, which reached the 98th in 2021. Season 107 years after the first edition, enjoys worldwide resonance for the charm of the monumental place, the spectacular set-ups and the quality of the performers.

The Arena di Verona Foundation offers an average of 50 evenings every summer with various productions and special events that attract over 400,000 spectators. Extraordinary numbers: 30,000 effective seats, 1260 on average people at work each season, including 80 singers, 160 orchestra professors, 158 choir artists, 32 minor choir artists, 15 collaborating masters, 54 dancers, 30 mimes and acrobats, 200 extras, 25 child extras, 5 stage managers, 4 assistant directors, 70 stage technicians, 22 electricians, 60 seamstresses and dressmakers, 4 people in the Costume Department, 23 make-up artists and hairdressers, 4500 costumes and 325 hours of make-up, 48 set builders, 10 maintenance technicians, 12 instrument holders, 143 room masks, 48 backstage masks, 60 administrative employees.

Scrolling through the annals of the seasons you will find the greatest world-famous artists, singers, dancers, conductors, directors and set designers who have linked their names to the seasons of the Areniano Festival.

To mention Maria Callas, then a rising star, who debuted in the Arena on the evening of August 2, 1947 as Gioconda in the work of Ponchielli, hired by Giovanni Zanellato, founder of the festival who then held the position of artistic director.

The Philharmonic Theater

The Philharmonic Theater is owned byVerona Philharmonic Academy, one of the oldest and most glorious Italian cultural institutions, founded in 1543 with the merger of two pre-existing academies. First musical academy established in Europe, in the eighteenth century on the initiative of the famous scholar Scipione Maffei, he was the architect of the construction of the theater, which quickly became the site of one of the most famous opera seasons in Europe.

Designed by the greatest theatrical architect of the time, Francesco Galli from Bibiena - considered "the universal architect of theaters" such was his fame and skill - the building was erected between 1719 and 1729. The inauguration took place on the evening of January 6, 1732, with the pastoral drama La Fida Ninfa by Antonio Vivaldi , on a libretto by Scipione Maffei.

The theater was destroyed and rebuilt twice, the first following a fire that broke out in 1749 (the new inauguration took place in 1754) and the second due to the dramatic Anglo-American bombings of 23 February 1945. Post-war reconstruction works under the aegis of the Philharmonic Academy they ended only in 1975

Since 1976 the Philharmonic Theater has been the seat of the Verona Arena Foundation's winter season, and since 1990 the Symphonic Festival “Il Settembre dell'Accademia” has been held here annually, promoted by the Accademia Filarmonica as the heart of its musical activity.


The artistic teams of the Arena Foundation:

The Verona Arena Orchestra

The history of the Orchestra begins on 10 August 1913 with the first opera performance in the history of the Arena, the Aida conducted by Tullio Serafin. Subsequently, the most diverse musicians in training, culture and style took turns on the podium. Among them also three conductors-composers, Pietro Mascagni in 1921, Riccardo Zandonai in 1939 and Mikis Theodorakis in 1988.

Among the other conductors who led the Arena Orchestra are Sergio Failoni, Antonino Votto, Gino Marinuzzi, Vittorio Gui, Franco Capuana, Francesco Molinari Pradelli, Rudolf Kempe, Argeo Quadri, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Lovro von Matacic, Elihau Inbal , Nello Santi, Peter Maag, Giuseppe Patanè, Michel Plasson, Anton Guadagno, Yuri Ahronovitch, Donato Renzetti, Andrea Battistoni, Gustav Kuhn, Daniel Oren, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Georges Prêtre.

Also noteworthy are the numerous tours abroad, in Vienna, Luxor, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Zurich, Berlin, Beijing, Zagreb, Jerusalem, Muscat etc.

The Choir of the Arena of Verona

The Choir as well as the Orchestra was born with the beginning of the opera performances in the amphitheater in 1913. Its first conductors were Ferruccio Cusinati and Vittore Veneziani. Subsequently, Giulio Bertola, Corrado Mirandola, Tullio Boni, Aldo Danieli, Armando Tasso, Romano Gandolfi, Marco Faelli, Giovanni Andreoli, Salvo Sgrò took turns up to Vito Lombardi, current Choir Master.

The great historical productions of which the Chorus was an essential protagonist are Aida, Nabucco, La Forza del fate, Othello, Il Trovatore, Carmen, Turandot, La Gioconda, Norma, Mefistofele, Faust, Sansone and Dalila, Boris Godunov. In addition to the fundamental contribution to the operas, the Choir held memorable concerts in the Arena: Verdi's Requiem Mass, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Berlioz's Damnation by Faust, Perosi's The Resurrection of Christ.

Important trips abroad are also worth mentioning, including Berlin, Vienna, Luxor, Tokyo, Beijing, Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich, Hamburg, Muscat.

The Choir also supports the Arena Orchestra in the winter opera and symphonic season at the Philharmonic Theater.

Fondazione Arena di Verona

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