Italy’s al fresco opera festivals are the perfect excuse for a holiday in the sun.
The sumptuous opera houses in Milan, Naples, Venice and Palermo are without doubt some of the most impressive in Europe but if you want to combine a visit to the opera with a short Spring break or summer holiday, there are some excellent open air options. Between April and October, you can enjoy an al fresco performance in Verona, Macerata, at Tuscany’s Torre del Lago or at the Ravello Music Festival on the Amalfi Coast.
Opera in Verona (24 June-28 August)
With an extraordinary capacity of 14,000, the ancient Roman amphitheatre is as much about the venue and experience as the music. Kicking off in mid-June, the Arena’s 94th season includes performances of Carmen, Aida, La Traviata, Turandot and Il Trovatore. When you are not opera-watching, head to the Corso di Porta Borsari for some retail therapy or explore the nearby towns of Vicenza, Mantua or the southern shores of Lake Garda.
Prices from £690pp B&B for 3 nights at the 5-star Palazzo Victoria, including opera tickets.
L'Arena, Verona: Foto Ennevi, courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona
Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago (15 July-13 August)
With a fabulous setting overlooking the lake, the two-week festival is dedicated to Giacomo Puccini who wrote several of his operas at his lakeside villa in Torre del Lago. One of Italy’s top summer music festivals, the 2016 programme includes some of the great Puccini classics – Tosca, Turandot, Madame Butterfly and La Bohème. Local attractions include the wide, sandy Versilian beaches, the walled city of Lucca and the small town of Pietrasanta with its magnificent piazza and summer-long art installations.
Prices from £550pp, inclusive of car hire and opera tickets, for 3 nights at the Locanda al Colle, an art-filled guesthouse, with a leafy garden, pool and private beach club in Camaiore.
La Locanda al Colle, Camaiore
Ravello Music Festival (April-October)
Set against the impossibly beautiful backdrop of the Amalfi Coast, the Ravello Music Festival features a varied programme of chamber music and piano recitals. Concerts take place either in the gardens of the Villa Rufolo, reputedly Wagner’s inspiration for the enchanted garden in his opera Parsifal, in the villa’s auditorium or in the spectacular Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium in the pretty town of Scala.
Prices from £990 (for 2) per week at La Riva, a one-bedroom apartment with a sweeping panoramic terrace overlooking the Amalfi Coast and steps down to a bathing platform on the waterfront.
Macerata Opera Festival (22 July-13 August)
In the heart of the magnificent Le Marche countryside, the Arena Sferisterio in Macerata showcased its first opera in 1914. Today the spectacular open-air arena is home to an annual three-week festival that attracts some of the world’s leading musicians. The 2016 programme includes performances of Othello, Norma and Il Trovatore.
Prices from £490pp B&B for 3 nights at the Hotel Leone in Montelparo, including car hire, opera tickets and private transfers on the night of the opera. Tucked away in the hilltop town of Montelparo, the 8-bedroom hotel has a pool and restaurant and is within easy reach of the coast and the dramatic mountain ranges of the Sibilini National Park.
Terrace at Hotel Leone, Montelparo