There were three intermissions during the Aida performance, two during Carmen and one during Madama Butterfly.
Before each intermission (‘interval’ to you) there is a ritual in which the singers take their bows from the center of the stage, then all walk over to the right side and bow again, then back to the center for more bows, and then the same on the left, which is where they finally exit.
When this ritual is over the floodlights go on and the air is immediately filled with eager young voices calling “Gelati! Ice Cream!”
One night some of the people behind me were annoyed about this, calling it a “Stilbruch” (they were Germans, obviously), but I find it just one more charming aspect of a night at the Arena.
Here one of the ice cream girls (in a yellow T-shirt) was talking with an usher (in a blue blouse). From what I understood of their conversation, it had to do with the necessity of holding the ice cream box on or above her head part of the time so she could get through the crowds.
There were several young black women selling ice cream in the Arena. In this photo the numbered seats below are still empty, because they haven’t even opened up those gates yet. (They don’t have to, because the numbered seats are reserved, so these people can take their time and have a leisurely supper or aperitivo before entering the Arena.)
Here one of the ice cream girls is hastening to get out of the way as the floodlights start to dim and the spectators light their candles.
My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2018.
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4 thoughts on “The ice cream girls”
You can’t beat an Italian ice cream
What a delight to hear of this custom at an opera! Lex and I tried to share a packet of M&M’s at the Ahmanson Theatre one night and got a tongue lashing from one of the ushers. – Geez!
This is only because it’s an outdoor venue. At a normal opera house you have to finish eating your ice cream (or whatever) in the lobby before returning to your seat.
Then Sir, I would prefer the outdoor venue because the origins of the opera were in the marketplace among the peasants. 🙂