Which city symbolizes more classical music and opera than Vienna and Rome? During our stay in the Roman capital, and even if we are not music lovers, we absolutely wanted to attend an opera.
We did this experience in the Church of Saint Paul in the Walls. Find out more about this church, its operas and our (very mixed) opinion.
History and description of the church of San Paolo Entro le Mura
The church of San Paolo Entro le Mura is an episcopal church. It is one of the few Christian and non-Catholic buildings in Rome.
Its construction began in 1873. With its discreet entrance on a main street, it is not impressive from the outside. The interior is more beautiful, even if in the middle of the Roman basilicas, it is difficult to surprise the visitor.
The interior is composed of 3 naves. The mosaics and stained-glass windows are the elements that first catch your eye.
The opera takes place at the back of the church on a barely elevated stage. The singers are in the center, while the musicians are on the side of the stage.
If you are looking for information about the church, do not confuse it with the Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura, which is a major basilica in Rome, much more majestic and belonging to the Catholic cult.
Where is the Church of Saint Paul within the Walls in Rome?
The exact address of the church is Via Nazionale, 16a, 00184 Roma. This is not a street with many tourist attractions, but it does have many hotels and stores. At the end of the street, you have the exceptional Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri.
The street is close to the historical center of Rome. By the way, after the opera, we walked to the Colosseum for a night tour of the famous “via dei Fori Imperiali”.
Which operas are performed in the Church of St. Paul in the Walls?
Concerts and operas are very common in the Church of San Paolo Entro le Mura. During our stay, it was possible to attend:
- La Traviata by Verdi
- 4 Seasons by Vivaldi
- A concert of 3 tenors called “I Tre Tenori: Nessun Dorma”
- A concert with the most famous songs of classical music.
The operas are held daily in the summer and during periods of high tourist traffic. There are also special concerts on important dates such as New Year’s Eve.
How much does it cost to attend a concert in the church of San Paolo Entro le Mura?
For our concert, there were three prices available:
- VIP, ticket with access to the best seats: €50.
- Front seat, ticket for the front rows: €35.
- Amphitheater, ticket for the back row: €25.
Our Experience: Verdi’s Traviata at the church of San Paolo Entro le Mura
We attended Verdi’s Traviata at the end of May.
We arrived early and waited in the street for the doors to open. Coming early is not a bad idea because your seats are not numbered. If you arrive last, you will have the seats away from the stage.
But in any case, you could be disappointed. In fact, the “front seats” start at the 4th row and go up to about 10th. The real front seats are the VIP seats…
Therefore, we paid for front seats and ended up in the sixth row, on one side and more than tightly packed since we were 7 people in a row made for 6… The stage is not elevated, so you don’t see the protagonists completely.
As for the seating, it is not very comfortable since you are on a wooden church bench covered with a small cushion. After an hour, your buttocks begin to claim a departure…
The church, like all churches, has no air conditioning. The heat becomes stifling when it is hot outside. After the second act, the audience, including us, became less and less comfortable and tried to use its brochure as a fan.
Even without being right in front of the stage, the acoustics were very good. We could hear the musicians and singers well. If you have seats at the back of the church, it must not be that good.
The welcome is nice. Everyone we met was smiling, friendly and helpful.
The other strength is the location of the opera. The church is beautiful. So, the waiting time before the opera starts is not a problem since you can admire the building.
As for the quality of the opera, I can’t really judge given my poor knowledge of this style of music. Let’s rather say that we enjoyed it without being captivated. And since we don’t speak Italian and the theatricality of such an opera is limited, we had to go online after the performance to understand the story in concrete terms.
Let’s finish with another inconvenience that is difficult for the organizer to control: the other spectators. We were in an audience that included a lot of old tourists, and good manners seemed to be lacking in some of them. Between the phones raised above the head to film the scene (which is forbidden by the organizer), the incessant discussions or the changes of seats during an act, you must be patient and calm to concentrate only on the music…
- The place: the church is beautiful
- The welcome of the staff
- The price
- The acoustics when you are in the first half of the church (beyond that, it becomes a weak point)
- The front seat tickets for an off-center seat in the 6th row
- The benches are not comfortable
- The stifling heat in hot weather
(depending on the performance) spectators not respecting the artists and the rest of the audience
Other places to attend an opera in Rome
The church of San Paolo Entro le Mura is obviously not the only place in Rome where you can see an opera.
You also have:
- The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
- The Opera da Camera di Roma
- The Teatro Salone Margherita
- The Terme di Caracalla (only in summer)
We have not seen any of these places, so we cannot give an opinion.