Arriving on time -- even though the show began a few minutes late -- we searched for the usher roaming somewhere in the hallway. Once found, he fished for a key and then led us to Lilliputian double doors, which he unlocked. We entered the box, left our coats on one of the hooks, passed through velvet red drapery, and sat down on two lonely wooden chairs. With balcony seating, the ceiling fresco was almost in arm's length reach.
I had vertigo before the show began. (It's high up there.) Beneath us, six to eight Italians crunched together in their lower box seats, continuing their chatter long after the singers came on stage. Mirrors along the walls of their boxes reminded us that the Teatro San Carlo was built during the Bourbon period when the King sat in his royal box in the center.
The mirrors allowed audiences to view both the show and the King at the same time. The balcony boxes, however, didn't have mirrors, thereby keeping the riff-raff (like us) from having such an honor. When the lights dimmed and the production began, we hung our bodies over the velvet parapet in order to see most of the stage.
Hasmik Papian, an Armenian opera singer, played the role of Floria Tosca. Keeping her residence in Vienna, she performs world-wide and yesterday she graced Naples with her outstanding voice. After dramatically killing the sadistic Baron Scarpia, then watching the execution of her hapless lover Mario Cavaradossi, Tosca jumped off a bridge and the music ended with emotional force. The audience went wild with applause and shouted "Brava!"
To purchase tickets, I suggest you go directly to the box office during the weekday. You can also take guided tours of the theater. Pictures of the stage aren't allowed, but I was able to take a few images of the lush seating and the actors giving their bows to roaring applause:
As an additional treat, after the show we walked along the bustling streets of night time Naples. On Sunday afternoons Neapolitans stay at home to eat with their families. Once darkness hits, they take their children and stroll through piazzas and town centers en masse. Stores, outside vendors, restaurants, and caffe's light up the streets and the crowds feel festive.Last night, I withstood more than three hours of stiletto heels and balcony seating at the Teatro San Carlo in order to enjoy the five o'clock opening show of Giacomo Puccini's La Tosca.