For the last two nights we have been have been in Verona, Italy, not New Jersey, a medium-sized city about an hour from Venice that is rich, storied and wonderful.
We centered our trip, really, around Verona, for here, for 100 years, they have a summer festival of Opera, held in a first Century Roman arena, the third largest surviving Roman arena after the Collosseum and El Djem, in Tunisia.
Saturday night, we saw "Turandot," by Puccini which, to my mind, is highlighted by perhaps the greatest aria ever sung, Nessun Dorma. It was also directed by Zefferelli, which didn't hurt. Last night we saw an over-blown production of "Aida," a modern version with storm-troopers, prisoners of war, mechanical camels, elephants and horses, and weird soldiers on segways.
Sitting on a balmy evening under the stars and hearing Opera in a Roman arena, well, it beats seeing Meat Loaf in the Meadowlands.
It's also interesting to hear and see the panoply of people and languages that fill the arena--each night the place had about 10,000 in attendance.
There are no planes that fly overhead to mar the sanctity of the performance. And Italians are reverent toward their Opera. Even the roar of motorcyclists disappeared once the music started.
When the music was up and the whole magillah was on, the stars came out, tiny and unassertive against a velvet sky. That was, nearly, perfection. The apogee of art, of engineering and of nature.
Not bad for a kid from Yonkers.