I don’t really do opera but tracking down the BBC’s opening credits for their Italia ’90 coverage the other day I found myself watching a lot of clips online. It took me back to one of the best cultural experiences I’ve ever had, and one of only two times I’ve seen opera live: a performance at the Arena di Verona back in 2001 when I was on holiday with the family. The Arena is a Roman amphitheatre and the performance started at dusk. On entry everyone in the audience is given a candle, so when you take your seat you look out across this glorious vista of ancient stone glimmering with little yellow flames – it’s kind of amazing. The crowd really gets into the opera, applauding all the arias and often getting the performers to do encores in the middle of the performance. It was Rigoletto, and the standout bit for me was the duet “Si, vendetta” between Rigoletto and his daughter Gilda. Amazingly, I managed to track down a clip of that duet (with encore!) from a production of Rigoletto at the Arena. It seems incredibly unlikely given that it’s almost exactly ten years since I saw it, but the actors and the production look pretty much identical to what I saw back in ’01. That could just be wishful thinking, but whatever. Hope you enjoy; I’m just gonna sit here and watch it again.

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