What do you talk about on a perfect fall evening, while sitting outside on the Veneto Trattoria patio, sipping a chilled Spritz? Italy and operas, what else?
My international traveling friends described their delightful experience in Verona, Italy. For those of you who don’t know, both Verona and Vicenza, where I come from, are neighboring towns in Northern Italy. Verona is well known to lovers around the world because of Romeo and Juliet. It’s also known to opera lovers thanks to the fabulous shows produced every summer at the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheater in Piazza Bra in Verona, built in the first century.
So my friend describes her teenager’s reaction to the Arena. “He loved the structure itself, not so much the opera.”
I’m not surprised. I grew up on operas. My grandfather took me to see Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Arena, I was nine and I still get goosebumps thinking about it, after all these years. But back then, we didn’t have television, YouTube or other entertaining distractions. Heck, the only movie theater in town was owned by the Catholic Diocese. I’ll let you fill in the rest on that subject.
I remember the first time I took my younger son to see his first opera, La Boheme, one of my favorites. We saw this superb production in Orange County, California. The fabulous snowy vignettes had me all choked up and quietly crying. The final scene approached and Mimi appeared on her death bed singing to Rodolfo about the first time they met, and I’m sobbing away, mascara running down my cheeks…my kid asks, “Why are you crying?”
“Because,” sob, “she’s dying.” Sob.
“If she’s dying why is she singing so loud?”