Aida in Orange

Orange Roman Theatre

Orange in the Rhône Valley is well known for its magnificent Roman Theatre. In the Roman times, days off were spent at the theatre watching farce, song and dance, and occasionally Greek tragedy. It is said to be the best-preserved Roman Amphitheatre with its 36 m high and 103 m wide stage wall still standing.

In 1869, when still under reconstruction, the first modern time performance was staged, initiating the Summer Opera Festival called Chorégies d’Orange.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida was performed on the 2nd and 5th of August in 2017. We were lucky to get tickets in April; there were not that many left at this point! We booked a room at Hôtel Arène, a comfortable hotel in the old town with only about a 5-minute walking distance from the Roman Theatre. We had to book for two nights at a special festival rate. This was not a problem as Orange is in the middle of Côtes du Rhône wine growing area. It is interesting to spend some time visiting the wine shops and vineyards exploring lesser known Côtes du Rhône wines which are difficult to find elsewhere. Having visited Séguret last year, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape previously, we now decided to drive over the Rhône River to explore the wines of the Laudun Chusclan region.

Our visit to Orange coincided with an exceptional heatwave, canicule, with temperatures soaring to 38-39°C in the afternoon. A well air-conditioned hotel room and restaurant were very welcome. We did nevertheless some shopping; cushions were essential! On the day of the opera, we had a light lunch outside under the plane trees before an afternoon nap at our hotel.

The performance started at 21.30 but we were advised to be on venue before 9 PM to find our seats. The weather was now much cooler with some mistral, and even a possibility of thunderstorms was forecasted later that night. Everyone had their fingers crossed that fine weather would last long enough!

Finally, the audience had found their seats, the darkness fell, and exactly at 21.30 the conductor of the orchestra lifted his baton, and the magic of Aida started….


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