The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is back with its summer edition. But this year the open-air performances won’t be held at the Terme di Caracalla, instead, they will take place in the stunning Circo Massimo from July 16th to August 13th.
Circus Maximus is the biggest sports stadium ever built. Just think it could hold almost three hundred and eighty thousand visitors with free access to races. Almost four times bigger than the biggest stadium today, an incredible number.
Its structures couldn’t have been much different from our horse racing tracks. Imagine watching a chariot race surrounded by the cheering and clapping of thousands of people, betting huge fortunes on the races, eating, arguing and cheering their champions on just like modern fans. Excitement, risk and tension were vital ingredients of the race.
Four teams (the factions) took part in each race, each with an identifying colour; they were so popular and important that they ended up becoming actual political parties. Classical races were those with the drivers, called “charioteers”, were hired and sold to other teams for sums much like those spent today to buy sports champions. Prizes were magnificent. Diocles, the greatest Roman charioteer, stopped racing when his riches amounted to the equivalent of 7 million euros today.