Italy has a wealth of beautiful, historic opera houses, many still serving as theaters. Opera fans should try to visit at least one opera house and enjoy a live performance in Italy (buy tickets ahead). The opera season is generally October through March or April but outdoor performances are held in the summer. Opera houses hold theater and dance performances at other times of the year, too.
Here are top opera houses and theaters in Italy and a couple of summer opera festivals.
Milan's famous opera house, Teatro Alla Scala, reopened in December, 2004 after an extensive renovation. It has a bookshop, bar, and history museum, too. The original opera house, designed by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, opened in 1778 and many famous operas were first performed here. La Scala was badly bombed during World War II but reopened in 1946 and quickly regained its reputation as a top Italian opera house.
Tickets for Teatro alla Scala performances from Select Italy.
La Fenice (the Phoenix) in Venice, is one of the most famous theaters in Europe. La Fenice first opened in 1792 but was twice badly damaged by fire. It has recently been renovated and reopened. La Fenice is in Venice's San Marco Sestiere (see Venice Sestiere map)
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The Teatro San Carlo in Naples is the oldest opera house in Italy, founded in 1737. Some of the first ballet productions were also performed here during the opera intermissions. Opera, ballet, and short comic opera are still performed at Teatro San Carlo. A museum is in the planning stage.
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Teatro Massimo in Palermo is the foremost opera house in Sicily as well as one of the finest in Europe. Its opening in 1897 signaled the beginning of Palermo's belle epoque. Year-round performances include opera, ballet, and music.
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Bologna's opera house is one of the top theaters in Italy and also one of the oldest. It is a stunning example of 18th century baroque architecture. Located in the heart of Bologna's historic district, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna holds opera, musical, and symphony performances.
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Built in 1829, Parma's neo-classical theater is rich in gold and stucco work. The theater holds opera, dance, and drama performances as well as concerts and special events.
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Teatro Verdi in Pisa is one of the most beautiful theaters in central Italy. The 900-seat auditorium, inaugurated in 1867, has a beautiful ceiling fresco and today houses opera, dance, and drama performances.
Turin's prominent opera house, in Piazza Castello, was rebuilt in 1973. The original 19th century theater was destroyed by fire in 1936. It is a popular spot for musicals and plays as well as opera.
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Rome has a beautiful opera house and holds many classical dance concerts and opera performances. In the summer, opera and dance performances are held in the ancient Baths of Caracalla, a spectacular setting for opera under the stars.
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10. Arena di Verona
Although not an opera house, another fantastic historic setting for opera is the Arena di Verona, a restored Roman arena. The open-air opera season starts in June but there are sometimes other performances during the year.
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