From chariot races to opera: Rome reinvents the Circus Maximus

Rome holds summer opera festival in 2,800-year-old Roman arena.

Rome's Circus Maximus, the ancient chariot racing arena, is preparing to welcome the city's summer opera festival, organised by Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, for the first time.

Workers are putting the final touches to a giant stage and a high raised stand with seating for a maximum of 1,400 audience members, all of whose seats are spaced wide apart to allow for social distancing.

Rome’s opera house technical director, Francesco Arena, told Reuters news agency that the Circus Maximus is "returning in a way to its origins" by transforming itself "from a circus to a theatre, an opera house in this case."

The opera festival under the stars will open on 16 July with a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto, conducted by Daniele Gatti, which will be broadcast on Italy's RAI 5 television channel.

Photo: Yasuko Kageyama / TOR. Rigoletto with Roberto Frontali and Gilda Rosa Feola.

The programme includes The Barber of Seville (22 July-13 Aug) and The Merry Widow (31 July-12 Aug), both of which will be conducted by Stefano Montanari.

Opera fans can also to look forward to Le Quattro Stagioni, a ballet based on Vivaldi's Four Seasons (25 July-3 Aug), and Omaggio a Roma, with stars Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov (6-9 Aug).

Rome's summer opera season normally takes place at the Baths of Caracalla - since 1937 - but the historic venue was ruled out definitively for being "incompatible" with Italy's covid-19 social distancing rules.

For full details about the summer 2020 opera season, including tickets, see Teatro dell'Opera di Roma website.

Cover photo: Kimberly Ross / Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

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Address Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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From chariot races to opera: Rome reinvents the Circus Maximus

Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy