Tenor Andrea Bocelli has been starring in the first production of an operetta at Verona's Arena, a place so far exclusively devoted to world famous mega-scale productions of operas. Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow opened July 10 and ends its extended run Aug. 27. The open air venue seats 15,000.
Bocelli became a superstar overnight after the international release of "Time to Say Goodbye," his successful duet with Sarah Brightman, and sold millions of records worldwide since. His performance in Lehar's operetta will be quite peculiar: instead of playing the initially announced role of Earl Danilowitsch, he will be appearing in the middle of Act Two to perform three famous arias by Giuseppe Verdi and Franz Lehar which are in no way connected to the original score of the show.
The Verona production of The Merry Widow is directed by Beni Montresor, who also designed sets and costumes. Other cast members include the popular television star Fabrizio Frizzi and opera singer Cecilia Gasdia.
The additional performances of The Merry Widow are scheduled on July 14, 22 and 31 and on Aug. 6, 19 and 27. Tickets run from 28,000 Italian Lire ($14.70) to 290,000 Italian lire ($152.60) and are available at the Arena box office at (011) 39 8005151 or online at the Arena di Verona website.
-- By Stefano Curti