The Opera scene in Rome

A Night at the Opera: Rome's Best Venues

Rome is without doubt, one of the most visited cities in the world. Its history, art and culture attract people from all corners of the globe. Rome’s music, especially its opera – is one of the key attractions offered by the city of seven hills.

In Rome, and in Italy as a whole, opera has been of great importance from the beginning of the 17th  century to the present day. Composers such as Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Puccini and Leoncavallo have contributed to the history of the genre with a range of operas that continue to be well received today, both by audiences and critics alike.

The opera scene in Rome is extensive. Without a doubt, the venue par excellence to see an opera performance is the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Inaugurated in 1880, the theatre, also known as Teatro Costanzi (in honour of Domenico Costanzi who financed its construction), has enjoyed the collaboration of the world’s most eminent conductors, such as Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, Georges Prêtre, Zubin Mehta and the Maestro Riccardo Muti who received the title of ‘honorary conductor for life’ in 2011, among others. It has also welcomed singers of such stature as Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Mario del Monaco, Franco Corelli, Alfredo Kraus, Montserrat Caballé, Joan Sutherland, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Roberto Alagna.

Should you wish to attend an opera performance of the highest calibre, we highly recommend this illustrious opera house. Each season its program includes well-known opera classics such as Aida, Tosca, Rigoletto and La Bohème, as well as other more modern but equally outstanding operas.

However, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is not your only option for opera when in Rome. There are other venues in the city that also host performances of excellent quality, and because they are smaller and simpler in scale, could be considered more romantic and intimate.

Opera in Rome
Photo courtesy: I virtuosi dell’Opera di Eoma

Such is the case with the Teatro Salone Margherita, inaugurated in 1898 and named after Queen Margaret, the wife of Humberto I of Italy. The theatre’s current program offers two great Italian operas, Verdi’s La Traviata and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville – two timeless masterpieces from the world’s operatic repertoire.

In the same vein, other appealing alternatives – and equally recommendable – are events that take place at the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese (Waldensian Evangelical Church), as well as at the Chiesa di San Paolo Entro le Mura (Church of St Paul’s Within the Walls).

Both offer shows which combine opera and ballet in a magical and intimate way. At the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese you have the chance to enjoy Opera e Balletto, with a program that features arias from the most well-known operas (such as Carmen, The Elixir of Life and La Traviata, among others) performed by a tenor, soprano and baritone, with a choreographed routine by ballet dancers. This is a truly fascinating fusion of opera and ballet.

Opera in Rome
– Photos courtesy Associazione Opera in Roma

Another event in a similar style is Three Tenors – Napul’è Opera Arias & Ballet at the church of San Paolo Entro le Mura. The three tenors perform well-known opera arias (from operas such as Tosca, Turandot and Rigoletto), along with some of the most famous traditional Neapolitan songs, including’O sole mio, Funiculì, funiculà and Torna a Surriento, while the ballerinas enchant us with their beautifully choreographed ballet dancing.

Of course, all over Rome you will be able to find all manner of venues where operas or opera arias are performed. However, one needs to distinguish between those venues of high quality (for discerning music lovers), and those that are aimed towards a tourist audience. The theatres mentioned are some of the most prestigious and well known for their superb quality. We recommend them wholeheartedly; should you choose to experience the timeless magic of opera during your stay in Rome.

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