Are you a passionate of the Opera? I am. Actually, I do prefer musicals but, being Italian, Opera is pretty much in my DNA. I was used to buy seasonal tickets for the Operas House of Torino, where I live, but this past year theatres were closed thus I skipped my yearly dose of live music.
A while ago I started thinking about what would be my first travel destination after covid, and I really have plenty of ideas thus I realized I needed some extra resons to allow myself consider or skip a specific destination.
As we do not yet know how and when we will be set free to travel again freely around the globe, it might be possible that my firt travel after covid would be in Europe or within the Mediterranea basin. Therefore, as I visited pretty much all of the continent already, I decided to investigate several destination based on my passion for the Opera.
Have you ever wondered where the scenes of the operas are? Where does those dramatic or comic event take place? I did, and I found 10 places to visit based on the plot of some very popular Operas and some of the least represented worldwide. I have identified 10 cities (actually 11) or geographical areas that in some cases I already know, in some others cases are brand new to me.
So lets’ follow the music and see where the Operas will take us.
Please note this is not a ranking, just a list of cities connected to specific music compositions.
10 – Tosca – Rome – Italy
Tosca is an Opera by the Italian Composer Giacomo Puccini, who, to me, is the link between Opera and Musicals. Most of his works are in between and in my opinion could be performed under both names: Opera and/or Musicals.
First represented at Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14th, 1900, it’s scene includes some of the most impressive places of the City of Romes, such as the Farnese Palace (one of the most beautifully decorated palace in the world), which is nowadays the seat of the French Embassy, as well as Castel Sant’Angelo, a round fortress, formerly the mausoleum of a Roman Emperor and then the prison of the Vatican State.
9 – Carmen – Seville
Written by the French Composer Georges Bizet, this gipsy drama was first represented at Opera Comique in Paris on March 3rd, 1875.
The scene takes place in Andalucia, Spain, within the context of the City of Seville, one of the most impressive cities in the region, together with Cordoba and Granada. The city is home to the second largest Cathedral of Christianity as well as the Alcazar (the Royal Palace) and the Achive of the Indies where the treasures coming in from the Americas were stocked.
8 – Aida – Egypt
This masterpiece by the Italian Composer Giuseppe Verdi, who ranks 1st in the list of the most represented opera Composers on a global scale, was first represented at at the Cairo National Theatre on December 24th, 1871.
The scene takes place in the two former capitals of antique Egypt: Memphis and Thebes, nowadays called Cairo and Luxor. All the major sites of antique Egypt are involved in the scenes, but if you want to understand why the triumphant march of Aida is so monumental, just go see the Pyramids of Giza and the Temples of Luxor, and you wil get and idea of what inspired the Composer.
7 – Cosi fan tutte – Naples
This comic opera by the Austrain Composert Amadeus Mozart was first represented at the Burghtheater of Vienna on January 26th, 1790.
Mozart’s ability with music in undeniable, as well as the quality of its scenes. The events portrayed in the Opera happen in Naples, one of the largest city of Italy. Formerly the capital of a spanish-run kingdom, the city offers some of the most impressive palaces and church in the Country as well as the most tasty pizza. If not for the Opera, just go to Naples to have one.
6 – L’Italiana in Algeri – Algiers
Gioacchino Rossini is one of the most popular Italian composers together with Verdi and Puccini. Most of his Operas are comic. L’Italiana in Algeri is no exception.
Fist represented at Teatro la Fenice in Venice on May 22nd, 1813, the opera displays the misadventure of an Italian women, sent to Algiers to populate the harem of the local Sultan. Stroll around the Casbah of the city, included in the Unesco world heritage, and discover why the markets of the Arab world are so well known.
5 – Boris Godunov – Moscow
One of the least represented Opera on a global scale is Boris Godunov by the Russian Composer Modest Musorskij. First represented at Marinskij Theater of Leningrad (nowadays St. Petersburg) on February 2nd, 1928, this Royal drama takes place in Moscow and portrays some of the most iconic places of the city, including the red square and the Cremlin.
4 – Tristan and Isolde – Cornwall
It is my personal opinion that Richard Wagner wrote the most monumental arias in the history of the Opera (but feel free to disagree). Although most of his works are very long and try very much the ability of a human to stay sat for hours, it pretty much entertain the audience with legends, history and even phylosophy that are embedded into his stories.
Tristand and Isolde, first represented at the Bayern State Opera on june 10th, 1895, is a medieval drama involing two lovers, whose scene is not a city but the whole area of Conrwall, in UK. If you want to skip the crowd but you still want to visit the UK, you may start from this amazing area of the Country which still keeps sort of a dramatic environmental beauty.
3 – Simon Boccanegra – Genova
Althoguh Giuseppe Verdi is the most popualr composer within the world of Opera, not all of his works are represented very often. Audience is globally attracted by his masterpieces such as La Traviata, Aida, Nabucco, Don Carlos.
Simon Boccanegra is one of his least represented compositions. He worte it twice, the second time being juts a revision of the first, thus we have two “premieres” of the same opera: the first one on March 12th, 1857 and the second at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan on March 24th, 1881.
The scene is the city of Genova in Northern Italy (do not mistake it for Geneva, in Switzerland), one of the four medieval Maritime Republics led by a Doge. The whole city centre is protected by Unesco as part of the world heritage. Verdi was not aware, at his time, that the scene of his composition would later on become one of the most highly appreciated city centres in Europe.
2 – Tancredi – Syracuse
Here is another Opera by Gioacchino Rossini, first represented at Teatro la Fenice in Venice on February 6th, 1813.
The scene is the city of Syracuse in Sicily, one of the first Greek colonies in the area, whcih still keeps an amazing atmosphere mixing well it’s greek, roman, renaissant and especially the baroque culture. A visit to Syracuse is a journey through a 3000 years history. If you never had the chance to study the history of the greeks, the romans, the meddile ages, the renaissance and the baroque era, Syracuse will be an open book for you and a summative chance for enhancing your cultural background.
1 – Jerusalem – The Lombards at the first crusade
Jerusalem is an Opera by Giuseppe Verdi, one of those that is not very often staged. There is a story behind as the opera was originally titled “the Lombards at the first crusade”. The National Opera of Paris, asked Verdi to supply a monumental opera, which was the trend of that period, thus he decided to rewrite some sections and to release it under a different name: Jerusalem, first represented in Paris on Novermber 26th, 1847.
I am sure you all have dozens of reasons to go vitis the Holy City and the overall Holy Land, thus you can use Verdi’s opera as an extra.
What about you? Which is the first place you intend to visit when the covid emergency will finish?
Are you giving yourself a reason to pick one place instead of another?