Opera in Bologna on the Rise: Treat Yourself at Hotel Corona d’Oro

By James Monroe Števko

Stepping off the smooth high-speed train, Italy’s Frecciarossa, I began my journey to the city center, preparing for Teatro Comunale di Bologna’s opening night of “La Voix Humaine” and an Italian favorite, “Cavalleria Rusticana.”

Italian Hospitality 

An important evening at the opera lies ahead, and this divo has high expectations for my hotel stay. Luggage in tow in the cool and fresh morning air, I embark on my journey to check into Hotel Corona d’Oro, in the heart of the city.

Wasting no time at all after turning the corner from the Central Train Station, I’m greeted with the 14th century Castello di Galliera and a majestic 19th-century staircase leading to the Napoleonic Parco della Montagnola. In that moment, I realize what a treasure I’ve arrived in.

In true Bolognese fashion, I already find myself passing through stretches of grand, stone porticoes. These passageways, with towering columns and vaulted ceilings, measure out in total to 24 miles, making it Bologna’s reigning architectural form.

Before I knew it, I was halted at the feet of the famously leaning Due Torri (two towers) dating to the 12th century. With such a view, I was hesitant to stop my sight-seeing, but it was time for check-in. Turning down a charming side-street, I arrive at the 4-star, luxury boutique hotel, Hotel Corona d’Oro.

The facade, coated with balconies and shutters, revealed a glorious white and cream lounge, doused in sunlight from the retractable glass cupola overhead. It was obvious that this hotel was a piece of history itself, and the inviting Italian receptionists didn’t hold back their excitement when the opportunity came to educate me on its history.

The teasing labyrinth of marble stairs that winds through the hotel of 30 rooms, 3 of which are suites, takes you on a journey from Medieval, Renaissance and Art Nouveau periods, all under one roof!

My luggage arrived in my room via the staff and now I was ready to prep for an Italian spring evening at the Teatro Comunale.

With a subtle background of music playing throughout this UNESCO ‘City of Music’ hotel, I was ready to dive into the vast bathtub, surrounded by glimmering stainless steel and deep salmon-colored marble. The complimentary bath salts were going to be great after a day of walking Bologna’s winding streets.

Popping open the minibar’s champagne for opening night, I gazed out my window at the Medieval portico, still with original wood, and gazed at other surrounding shuttered windows.

Hotel Corona d’Oro lies in the dead center of the city, making a trip to the opera especially convenient. Within a few minutes down Via Zamboni, with the city’s nightlife picking up pace, I arrived at what has to be one of the most beautiful opera houses in existence.

Teatro Comunale di Bologna

The house first opened in 1763 with Gluck’s “Il trionfo de Clelia,” written expressly for the occasion. As one enters the auditorium, they’ll find themselves in a horseshoe consisting of 99 boxes of cream and gold with a floor of sage, velvet seats; all which is lit with numerous gold sconces, jutting from the walls like glittering antlers.

While it seems the company has undergone years of crisis from years of negotiations and cutbacks, Teatro Comunale di Bologna is making an obvious comeback, providing world class singers and winning rave reviews. And this opening night was no different, starring Anna Caterina Antonacci in the lead of “la Voix Humaine” and Marco Berti in “Cavalleria Rusticana.” This season’s earlier production of Massanet’s “Werther” also garnered the same high acclaim with tenor Juan Diego Flórez.

Following a successful performance with standing ovation the bubbling audience, many donning some dazzling gowns and fine cloth suits for the occasion, headed to the Foyer di Rossini, whose doors open out onto a balcony open to the stars. The center of the room is home to a long buffet of quiches, pasta, seafood and desserts. Champagne in hand on this romantic, Italian night, I took in the sight of the neighboring Oratory of Saints Cecilia and Valeriano while meeting the evening’s cast.

The Evening

Leaving behind this opulent house, I trace my steps back to Hotel Corona d’Oro, through porticoes that still hum with evening festivities. My french-sized (wider than the standard) single bed beckons me. I pamper myself with the comfortable robe and incredibly soft luxury towels thinking ahead to the complimentary breakfast, which comprised of much more than you might expect in a Europe. Dreams of eggs, bacon, pastries and fruit urged me to quickly get to bed to enjoy my favorite meal after a night of restful sleep on this class-act mattress.

Before checking out, I was pleased to meet with the friendly hotel management, who were excited to announce they are currently in the running for the Condé Nast Collection Award of 2018. With Corona d’Oro’s luxurious stylings in a city as rich as Bologna and steps from all of the city’s trademark sights, they are fierce competition for the prize.

Opera’s legendary Teatro alla Scala is so near that missing a trip to Teatro Comunale would be a mistake. And with elegance and service fit for a diva (or divo) a stay at Hotel Corona d’Oro is a perfect match.

What music lovers can look forward to in Bologna:

In addition to thriving Italian opera, the city is home to an annual, Summer Jazz Festival, and the city’s tourism office, have arranged multiple music-related tours, including baroque concerts with aperitif. The city also houses the International Museum of Library of Music at the Palazzo Sanguinetti. And for audiences interested in summer events the Teatro Comunale di Bologna is now teaming up with the Festival Verdi di Parma e Busseto.

Getting to Bologna:

While visiting Milan or Florence, consider a trip to Bologna as it is an easy ride away with the high-speed train, Frecciarosa, which is a treat itself. The train glides you into Bologna in only 60 minutes from Milan or 27 minutes from Florence.

Bologna Airport, just outside the city, is easily accessible via public transportation.