The Rome Opera House is fast becoming the cultural pride of the City of Rome, thanks to prudent management under Managing Director Carlo Fuortes, ex-director of Rome’s Parco della Musica. This coupled with innovative programs aimed at bringing opera to wider audiences (Opera Camion), and to younger audiences (Fabbrica Young Artists Program, and Rush to the Opera).
So if you’re looking for something special to do in Rome you just might want to head to the Rome Opera House for an opera. There is a whole host of not just operas but musicals, concerts and theater.
The quintessential Christmas opera, the Nutcracker, showed from December 4th until December 15th at the Teatro Nazionale. And then on New Year’s eve Swan Lake opened at the Teatro Costanzi and ran through January 8. The rest of the season was full of wonderful scheduled performances ranging from Giacomo Puccini‘s Tosca to Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass. Unfortunately due to Covid the season was cut short, but as of September the opera house is up and running again, albeit with a modified schedule.
Here’s how to purchase tickets!
This magnificent chandelier in the center of the hall has 27,000 crystals! Once every 10 years the chandelier is cleaned, at a cost of about €15,000.
Once summer rolls around performances move to the Baths of Caracalla outdoor theater. Some of the outstanding 2021 performances here will include an Andrea Bocelli concert, a Cat Stevens concert plus some wonderful operas.
The Rome Opera House – Teatro dell’Opera di Roma - is right in the center of Rome just off the Via Nazionale. It was first known as the Teatro Costanzi named after its designer and builder, Domenico Costanzi. It first opened in November 1880 with a Gioachino Rossini opera performance, Semiramide.
This side entrance to the Opera House used to be the main entrance when it was first built.
A little known fact is that there is an underground passageway that runs from the Hotel Quirinale on Via Nazionale directly into the Rome Opera House that can be used by visiting performers.
The Rome Opera House has undergone a number of renovations over the years, but its one outstanding feature since day one has been the fabulous acoustics. The Milanese architect Sfondini, an expert in theater design and renovation, focused special attention on the acoustics and designed the interior as a resonance chamber in a horseshoe shape. Originally the Rome Opera House had a seating capacity of 2212 but following various renovations over the years it now seats 1600. Yet despite the renovations the outstanding feature of the Rome Opera House still remains its acoustics, and acoustically it holds its own against the best auditoriums worldwide.
The Opera House stage is on a slight incline so that viewers can see every detail including the feet of the dancers and performers.
There are over 70,000 costumes stored at the Opera House, and sometimes they are reused. In this hallway near the bar costumes are displayed on a rotational basis, like the one above.
There is also a small museum within the Opera House that displays the highlights of all its magnificent performances, along with correspondence and photographs of performers and directors, and others who have played a major role in this Opera House.
Check out the Rome Opera Serenades by Night, and a couple other ideas!
Interested in reading about the history of opera in Rome? Here's a wonderful book you're sure to enjoy:
A program from the 1928 season:
The Rome Opera House has had its ups and downs financially over the years but under its current manager, Carlo Fuortes, it’s now returned to profitability and preeminence in the Eternal City.
Fuortes’s expertise is in the performing arts: he was most recently the Managing Director of Rome’s prestigious Parco della Musica Auditorium. One of Fuortes’s initiatives is to involve young people in opera through programs like Rush to the Opera, which allows young people to purchase unsold opera tickets for a fraction of the price. The Fabbrica Young Artists Program helps mentor young people who are aspiring performers, set or costume designers, or musicians.
The views within the Opera House are all magnificent:
Yet another wonderful Rome Opera House initiative is to share the beauty and magic of opera with a more eclectic audience via an Opera Camion - a traveling opera truck. Last season the truck traveled throughout the Eternal City stopping in various piazze to offer performances. Performances are abbreviated - usually one act - and the cast of characters is limited to about five performers. The side of the truck opens up and becomes a delightful stage. The audience is comprised of locals who bring a seat from home or watch standing. The 2019 summer season included the Barber of Seville, and because of Covid the 2020 summer season was pushed back to 2021; one of the two opera performances will probably be Tosca.
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