Rigoletto – From Sunday 2 to Tuesday 18
Rome’s national opera company, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, presents show-stopping Verdi masterwork, Rigoletto. The dramatic grand opera features widely recognizable arias, such as La Donna è Mobile and Caro Nome, making it an ideal entrée for non-opera-connoisseurs. The story of a cursed jester, his beautiful and naïve daughter, a cruel, womanizing nobleman, and a feckless assassin makes for an evening of music and theater that will at once enchant you and chill you to the bone.
Whisky Night – Sunday 2
Kick off the holiday season in Scottish style (while warming up from the inside out) at A Tutti Torbati, an evening dedicated to everything whisky, organized by the Spirit of Scotland. The event takes place at the glamorous Chorus Café, where from 3pm to midnight, you can sample hundreds of different varieties of whisky, including many rare collector’s vintages. In addition, whisky-based cocktails are whipped up before your eyes and nibbles are provided by Maritozzo Rosso, an eatery specializing in Roman street food. It’s an unmissable event for anyone passionate about Single Malt.
Via della Conciliazione, 4. Free entrance. romawhiskyfestival.it
100 Nativity Scenes – Friday 7
Little-known fact: the nativity scene has its origins in medieval Italy, and according to legend, it was St. Francis of Assisi who created the very first one. As a result, nativity scenes are a vital part of the Christmas tradition in Italy, and even more important than Christmas trees in most homes. Now in its 43rd year, annual exhibition 100 Presepi presents 100 (or more!) intricate and handmade nativity scenes from all 20 Italian regions, and many countries around the world. This year, for the first time, the exhibit will take place just outside St. Peter’s Square, making it an excellent stop after visiting the Vatican. Free entrance. Sala San Pio X.
Via della Conciliazione, 7. 100presepi.it
Immaculate Conception – Saturday 8
For your chance to see the Pope up close and personal, stop by Piazza Mignanelli (just around the corner from the Spanish Steps) on this date. On occasion of the anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed in 1854, every year Rome’s fire department places a wreath of flowers on the statue of the Virgin atop the towering column dedicated to the dogma at 7:30am. At 4pm the same day, Pope Francis shows up to venerate the statue accompanied by a massive crowd.
St. Lucy’s Day – Monday 10
According to tradition, St. Lucy brought food to Christians hiding in the catacombs in 3rd-century Rome, wearing a wreath of candles on her head to light her way. In Scandinavian countries, this festivity has come to represent the light that Christmas will bring to the long, dark winter ahead. Rome’s Swedish community marks the day with a reenactment in front of one of the city’s most arresting monuments. Stop by Piazza di Pietra at 7pm for a small procession of the Stockholm Youth Chorus, complete with Swedish Christmas carols and generous helpings of gingerbread cookies and mulled wine.
Russian Masterpieces – Wednesday 19
There’s nothing like a little Russian classical music to get you into the holiday spirit. Tchaikovsky is on show at this one-night-only performance by the renowned Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Russian superstar pianist Denis Matsuev joins the orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Vladimir Fedoseev for an interpretation of the timeless Concerto for Piano, n.1. The Nutcracker Suite and Capriccio Italiano round out the bill.
Santa Cecilia at the Auditorium PDM.