I finally got to enjoy a night at the opera last week. La Traviata was playing the final week of its run. I am not an opera connoisseur — you can tell by how long it took me to get to a show — and loved the entire experience. This opera’s production, directed by Sofia Coppola, was stupendous, from the performances to the Valentino costumes. But the artists couldn’t outshine the other star of the evening, the Opera House itself. You have to go!
The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is yet another place I’d walked by many times but never visited (perhaps as a kid, but if I can’t remember it, it doesn’t count). It’s a classically beautiful theater in every way, with its marvelous dome and spectacular chandelier…
… and a surround of little logias under arches, in red and gold.
As I’ve written before, in Rome, history is always present, and the Opera House is no exception. One clue is the royal opera box.
Another clue is the prominent coat of arms.
And, an inscription on the proscenium that reads, “Vittorio Emanuele III Rege, Benito Mussolini Duce, Lodovicus Spada Potenziani, Romae Gubernator Restituit MCMXXVIII—VI.”
Victor Emanuele III, who abdicated in 1946, was the last king of Italy. The third name on the inscription belonged to an Italian nobleman who served as the Governor of Rome. And, obviously, there’s also the dictator Benito Mussolini. That’s why the date in the inscription is strange. While “MCMXXVIII” tells us the date of the inscription was 1928, it’s the “- VI” that stands out. It refers to the sixth year after the Fascist’s March on Rome of 1922. So as I sit in this lovely theater in 2017, the WWII Rome of my father is still alive. And in Rome, history never goes away.