Featuring an unprecedented and captivating line-up, the Verona Arena Opera Festival celebrates its 100-year anniversary with eight beloved operas performed in the iconic Roman amphitheatre. From 16 June to 9 September 2023, this grand stage will present 49 extraordinary performances in less than three months, each showcasing a stellar cast of renowned artists. The festival programme includes two new productions, six historic sets, four gala evenings, and an exceptional symphony concert.

Kicking off the festival on Friday, 16 June, is a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, the Arena’s signature opera. This remarkable performance will be broadcast live by RAI and will star the unmatched Anna Netrebko in the title role, alongside tenor Yusif Eyvazov as Radamès. The direction, sets, and costumes have been masterfully created by the internationally acclaimed Stefano Poda, who will be making his debut at the Arena. His innovative interpretation of Aidaoffers a fresh perspective on Verdi’s timeless masterpiece. Conductor Marco Armiliato will take the podium for this monumental premiere. The following day, on Saturday, 17 June, Maria Jose Siri will take the stage in another highly anticipated “premiere” production, as the Ethiopian Princess.

After more than two decades, the Festival is proud to present a second new production. Award-winning actor and director Antonio Albanese brings his unique vision to Verdi’s Rigoletto, which will be performed from Saturday, 1 July, for four evenings. This captivating production features a stellar line-up of some of the world’s finest baritones portraying the iconic court jester: Roman Burdenko, Ludovic Tézier, Luca Salsi, and Amartuvshin Enkhbat. Other notable performers include tenors Juan Diego Flórez and Piotr Beczała, in addition to soprano Nadine Sierra. Albanese’s interpretation pays homage to the great Italian neorealist cinema of the 1950s, offering a fresh and compelling take on this classic opera. 

Audiences will also have the opportunity to enjoy six historic productions that have left an indelible mark on the Arena Festival’s history. These include Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (from 24 June) and Puccini’s Tosca (from 29 July), both directed by Hugo de Ana. Gianfranco de Bosio’s monumental staging of Verdi’s Nabucco (from 15 July) and Franco Zeffirelli’s cherished interpretations of Bizet’s Carmen (from 23 June), Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (from 12 Aug), and Verdi’s La Traviata (from 8 July) will bring the Festival’s rich heritage to life. La Traviata will also mark Anna Netrebko’s farewell to the role of Violetta on the evening of Saturday, 9 September, and will feature La Scala’s principal dancers Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko – who exchanged their wedding vows on stage in Verona in 2022 – in the first and last performances. 

In addition to these spectacular performances, the festival presents four gala evenings and an extraordinary symphony concert. The renowned “Roberto Bolle and Friends” event (19 July) will captivate audiences, along with three performances tailored to the talents of three exceptional artists: Juan Diego Flórez in his Verona Arena debut (23 July), Plácido Domingo paying tribute to the Festival on this special occasion (6 August), and Jonas Kaufmann’s grand return (20 August). 31 August will mark a historic moment at Verona Arena as the highly anticipated guests, Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus from Milan, led by the acclaimed conductor Riccardo Chailly, will take the stage for the very first time.

The international roster includes esteemed artists such as Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov, Anita Rachvelishvili, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, Roman Burdenko, Ludovic Tézier, Francesco Meli, Vittorio Grigolo, Juan Diego Flórez, Lisette Oropesa, Aleksandra Kurzak, Luca Salsi, Roberto Alagna, Amartuvshin Enkhbat, Nadine Sierra, Piotr Beczała, Sonya Yoncheva, Plácido Domingo, Gregory Kunde, Jonas Kaufmann, Maria José Siri, Asmik Grigorian, and Luca Micheletti. 

Reflecting on the momentous occasion of the Festival’s 100th edition, Cecilia Gasdia, General Manager and Artistic Director of the Fondazione Arena di Verona, stated, “We are working tirelessly alongside our team of offices, artistic talents, and technical staff to bring you a summer filled with art, music, and beauty. This creative journey feels like a culmination of five years of hard work, evoking a sense of exhilarating creativity. Music has always been an important part of my life, initially as a pianist and later as an opera singer. It brings me immense joy and emotion to witness Verona, my beloved city, coming to life as a magnet for the finest voices in the world”.

Stefano Trespidi, Deputy Artistic Director, stated that, “This unparalleled and exceptional line-up comprising eight operas and five galas specially designed for the Festival’s 100th Edition makes the 2023 season programme remarkably diverse. Undoubtedly, Verona Arena possesses the unique ability to showcase celebrated visionaries, who take turns in the same production. Every performance shines like a precious gem, and each evening is a unique experience, brimming with exceptional artistic and emotional significance”.

The 100th Edition of Verona Arena Festival is proudly organised with the double patronage of the Ministry of Culture and the Veneto Region.

The exceptional nature of this special edition is also reflected in the support received from private sponsors. Long-standing partners are joined by several new brands. Among our historical sponsors, the Fondazione Arena di Verona would first and foremost like to thank UniCredit, which whom we have collaborated for more than 25 years, along with Calzedonia, Pastificio Rana, Volkswagen Group Italia, DB Bahn, and RTL 102.5. Joining the cohort of official sponsors this year are Metinvest/Saving Lives, and Genny, which will provide new uniforms for our front-of-house team, and Müller, which will fund accessibility projects for people with disabilities. Our official partners also include historical brands such as Veronafiere, Air Dolomiti, A4 Holding, Casa Sartori, SABA Italia, SDG Group, and Cultural Partner Palazzo Maffei, joined by Acqua Dolomia, Sanagol and Mantova Village. We also extend our gratitude to the businesses, individuals, and professional associations who make up the 67 Columns Membership for Verona Arena, founded by Gianluca Rana from Pastificio Rana, and Sandro Veronesi, patron of the Calzedonia Group, which is now in its third year.

Carla Monni