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ROME (Reuters Life!) - Verona will open its 87th Opera Festival on Friday, a summer-long event with five operas and a special evening for tenor Placido Domingo, celebrating 40 years since his debut in the northern Italian town's arena.
The summer season begins with George Bizet's "Carmen," which has already been represented 189 times in 20 different editions in the oval Roman amphitheatre, built in 30 A.D.
This production of Carmen will be the re-edition of the 1995 Franco Zeffirelli version, with renewed sets.
Other operas during the June 19 - August 30 festival include Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida," Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot" and "Tosca," and "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" by Gioachino Rossini.
On July 24, Spaniard Domingo will lead a gala evening -- the 40th anniversary of when he first sang in the city of Romeo and Juliet fame. It will include the last acts of "Othello," "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Carmen."
Domingo debuted at the Verona Arena in the summer of 1969, with "Turandot" and "Don Carlo."
"He nostalgically recalls singing the famous aria 'Nessun dorma' while looking up at the sky enlightened by the silvery moon, his thought was that only a few days before a man had landed there for the first time," the festival's website said.
Domingo will also act as conductor by opening the festival with the first four performances of "Carmen."
Verona's arena has a unique location. Its huge performance space allows for hundreds of singers, dancers and extras.
And under a star-studded sky and open to the soft evening breeze, spectators enjoy a different feel to indoor opera houses like Milan's regal La Scala, with its red cushions and balconies.
Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Paul Casciato