Verona Arena.

Halliday - - Verona, Italy -

There’s a 2000-year-old stone colos­seum in the cen­tre of Verona that’s still in full work­ing or­der; Home­bush, I’m look­ing at you. Adele, Bruce Spring­steen, Ra­dio­head, One Di­rec­tion and Deep Pur­ple have all per­formed here, though most com­monly it houses per­for­mances of the grand­est of Ital­ian op­eras. On press trips I gen­er­ally turn off my brain and go through the mo­tions of go­ing where I’m told, when I’m told. The sched­ule said we’d at­tend the opera Aida at the open-air Verona Arena. Hope it doesn’t rain, I thought. Must re­mem­ber to pack a jumper, I noted later. With our tick­ets checked, we went through se­cu­rity, and then stepped down into the stone bow­els of this epi­cally sto­ried build­ing. The place seats 15,000 peo­ple, and peo­ple bus­tled ev­ery­where. Then the most fe­ro­cious shiver went down my spine. Gla­di­a­tors also once shiv­ered in these un­der­ground cor­ri­dors. Broth­els op­er­ated from the hid­den rooms within. The stone walls are bulky and cold; you feel lost, cold, fright­ened, in­trigued and ex­cited all at once. Then the trum­pets started and ev­ery­one shooshed, and an­other world of en­ter­tain­ment took over. I tried to count the num­ber of peo­ple on stage in the cast of Aida at one point and lost count at 300. As the cool kids say: mind, blown.

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