On 10th August 1913 the Verona Arena became the permanent location for an Opera Festival. That was when the brilliant history of the Orchestra and its conductors began. This, the most evocative podium of the world, has been occupied musicians that have differed widely in training, culture and style. They have also included three composers who were also conductors: Pietro Mascagni who conducted The Little Marat in 1921, Riccardo Zandonai who conducted Romeo and Juliette in 1939, and Mikis Theodorakis who conducted Zorba the Greek in 1988. However, it was Tullio Serafin with an historic Aida who inaugurated the Opera Festival in the Arena in 1913.
The other conductors who have led the Arena Orchestra include Sergio Failoni, Antonino Votto, Gino Marinuzzi, Vittorio Gui, Franco Capuana, Francesco Molinari Pradelli, Rudolf Kempe, Argeo Quadri, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Lovro von Matacic, Elihau Inbal, Nello Santi, Peter Maag, Giuseppe Patanè, Michel Plasson, Anton Guadagno, Yuri Ahronovitch, Donato Renzetti, Andrea Battistoni, Gustav Kuhn, Daniel Oren, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Georges Prêtre. To conduct from the podium of the Arena has always been and remains a unique honour and a demanding task. It is also an emotion that can never become a habit. In 1975, with the opening of the philharmonic theatre of Verona, the Orchestra of the Arena added another important series of engagements to its professional performances. Since then it has shown its excellence also in an indoor theatre, with three seasons to which enthusiasts can subscribe (opera, symphonic and ballet) and a far ranging programme with a repertoire from the baroque to the romantic and to the contemporary. The activity of the artistic groups in the Region is also intense.
Last but not least in importance are the foreign tours: in 1982 and 1984 in Vienna with Aida; in 1986 again in Vienna with The Troubadour; in 1987 in Luxor, Egypt, with Aida; in 1989 in Tokyo with Aida and in 1991 again in Tokyo with The Troubadour; in 1994 in Frankfurt with Nabucco; in 1995 again in Frankfurt with La Boheme; in 1995 in Vienna and Zurich with Nabucco; in 1996 in Berlin with Nabucco again and Aida performed at the Westfalenhalle of Dortmund in 1997; in Beijing in 2000 with Tosca; in February 2010, at the Tokyo International Forum Hall with Aida and a Gala performance with Plácido Domingo. In 2011 the Orchestra of the Verona Arena was invited to the 26th Music Biennale of Zagreb and played at the prestigious Masada - Dead Sea and Jerusalem Opera Festival with an Opera Gala at Jerusalem and a performance of Verdi's Requiem at Masada.
In October it played for a grandiose Troubadour by Puccini, directed by Franco Zeffirelli at the Royal Opera House of Muscat, capital of the sultanate of Oman.