ICONIC OPERA HOUSES OF EUROPE
May 2019

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ICONIC OPERA HOUSES OF EUROPE

Seventeen days; two countries; five of Europe’s great cultural centres; seven operas, two concerts and a ballet: this springtime itinerary promises to be an opera-lover’s delight. And where better to begin our tour of Iconic Opera Houses of Europe than Paris? The Palais Garnier and Opéra de la Bastille exemplify what is best about Paris – they celebrate tradition and embrace the new. Tchaikovsky and Puccini headline our operatic pleasures in Paris and, along with Britten, set the tone of the tour. The rich diversity of masterpieces includes an exciting new opera co-production by Covent Garden with the Opéra de Lyon. Milan’s famed La Scala offers Mozart and a recital by Australia’s newest international soprano sensation. Venice adds more Puccini as well as Verdi at the stunning La Fenice, and then, before the summer heat sets in, Rome presents a dramatic finale by Prokofiev. Enhancing the experience, there is a scenic and relaxing rail journey between each city, visits to historic sites and the chance to sample regional cuisines and wines in the company of like-minded travellers hungry to explore the arts in all their glory.

YOUR TOUR LEADER: Dr Robert Mitchell is a veteran of almost 5,000 performances in over 120 operas. His Opera Australia debut was in the opening season of the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and most recently he sang The Captain in the world premiere of Kate Miller-Heidke’s opera The Rabbits for the Perth, Melbourne (2015) and Sydney (2016) Festivals and in Brisbane. Beyond his chorus duties Robert has performed a wide range of roles in operas including L’incoronazione di Poppea, The Eighth Wonder, Lulu, Carmen and Les contes d’Hoffmann, He has also been a soloist for the Sydney and Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festivals, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Chamber Soloists of Sydney and the Warringah and Wollongong Symphonies. Robert holds a Diploma of Music Education, Master of Creative Arts (University of Wollongong) and PhD (University of Sydney), has taught at Macquarie and Western Sydney Universities and is chairman of the OA Benevolent Fund. Robert regularly gives talks to music interest groups and has previously led music and opera tours to Hamburg and Berlin for Ring cycles and locally for orchestral and chamber music.

DETAILED ITINERARY

SUN 12 MAY     ARRIVE PARIS

After settling into our centrally located four-star hotel, join your fellow music-loving travellers for a welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant. (Meals in flight, D)

MON 13 MAY     PARIS

The day starts with a two-hour walking tour of the historic Marais quarter with a local guide. After an afternoon at leisure we set out for the iconic Palais Garnier for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s last opera, the one-act Iolanta, followed by his delightful ballet Nutcracker. (B)

TUE 14 MAY     PARIS

In the morning we visit the Musée Jacquemart-André with its jaw-dropping collection of art and furniture displayed in the home’s original sumptuous surroundings. The museum’s elegant coffee house is perfect for morning tea or an early lunch. After a short walk to the Metro we head for the Opéra Bastille for a tour of the impressively large backstage, which will make anyone familiar with the backstage of the Sydney Opera House weep with envy.
After the tour there is the option of a stroll nearby in the world’s first elevated linear park, Coulée verte René-Dumont, which was one of the inspirations for New York’s High Line. The evening is at leisure. (B)

WED 15 MAY     PARIS

This morning we visit yet another boutique museum housed in a former private mansion built during the Second Empire: the stunning Musée Nissim de Camondo, which is dedicated to French decorative arts of the second half of the eighteenth century. After an afternoon at leisure, we set out in time for a wander around the Parc de la Villette, site of the former Paris abattoirs and now Paris’ largest concentration of cultural venues. We dine at the in-house restaurant Le Balcon before our concert at the Philharmonie, Paris’s newest concert venue, where Daniel Harding conducts the Orchestre de Paris in Britten’s moving War Requiem. (B,D)

THU 16 MAY     PARIS

Today is yours to enjoy the Paris experience of your choice, whether in the Louvre, the Luxembourg Gardens or doing some shopping at Galleries Lafayette. But leave some energy for the evening’s performance at l’Opéra de la Bastille: Tosca with the legendary Jonas Kaufmann and the stunning Anja Harteros, who was the first German to win the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. (B)

FRI 17 MAY     PARIS – LYON

After transferring to the Gare de Lyon, we speed our way on a TGV to the capital city of France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, which sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers and is one of France’s most important food and wine districts. Once we are settled into our four-star hotel, time permitting, we make our way on foot and funicular railway to the ‘upside-down elephant’: the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Spectacular mosaics line the walls and ceilings of the church whose site affords panoramic views of the old city below. Group dinner suggestion: Georges Blanc’s brasserie Le Splendid. (B,D)

SAT 18 MAY     LYON

We start the day with a walking tour of Lyon’s historic quarter and enjoy lunch at Les Halle Bocuse, followed by the Tour Gastronomique. The evening takes us to George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love & Violence at the Opéra Nouvel, which was built in 1831 and renovated and enlarged in 1985, and is described as ‘an architectural tour de force, in which the past has been successfully wedded to the future.’ Lyon is one of eight major opera houses presenting the original production of Benjamin’s powerful and thought-provoking 80-minute opera. It was inspired by Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II and had its world premiere in 2018 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to great acclaim. (B)

SUN 19 MAY     LYON – MILAN

After breakfast and check-out we head for La Part-Dieu station for the day’s scenic rail journey to operatic Mecca: Milan.
Once settled into our hotel and unpacked, we meet for an aperitif at the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, whose discrete elegance puts every other shopping arcade to shame, and then we continue on to dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

MON 20 MAY     MILAN

In the morning we take the local tram to the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper.’ The evening sees us at the Teatro alla Scala with one of Australia’s latest international opera stars Jessica Pratt in a recital of works by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Arditi and Richard Strauss, accompanied by Vincenzo Scalera. (B)

TUE 21 MAY     MILAN

After breakfast we visit the fascinating museum of the Teatro alla Scala that houses portraits of legendary singers of the past, some of their possessions, composers’ and singers’ busts, including a brilliant head of Nijinsky, a plaster cast of Chopin’s left hand, and operatic artefacts and posters. The afternoon and evening are free for you to visit some of Milan’s important galleries, such as the Pinecoteca di Brera and the Museo del Novecento. (B)

WED 22 MAY     MILAN

The day begins with a guided tour of the great Duomo, including views from the terraces, then after a coffee stop we walk to the Castello Sforzesco, where Michaelangelo’s final and unfinished ‘Pieta’ stands. In the evening we make our second visit to La Scala for a new production of Mozart’s Idomeneo by acclaimed German director Matthias Hartmann. (B)

THU 23 MAY     MILAN – VENICE

This morning we take the 2 ½-hour train trip from the imposing Milan Centrale and head for a three-night stay in Venice – ‘la Serenissima’. The evening sees us at Venice’s iconic La Fenice for a performance of Aida in a reproduction of a traditional staging by the late director Mauro Bolognini, who was known for his masterly handling of period subject matter. (B)

FRI 24 MAY     VENICE

This morning a vaporetto speeds us to the Isola San Giorgio Maggiore with its imposing tower that affords 360-degree panoramic views of Venice, and La Giudecca, another island, which boasts the famous Palladian church of Il Redentore. Following an afternoon at leisure we return to La Fenice for a performance of Puccini’s final opera, Turandot, with a stellar cast including acclaimed Ukranian soprano Oksana Dyka. (B)

SAT 25 MAY     VENICE

Richard Wagner is the focus of this morning’s tour. The great composer died in the 16th-century palazzo Ca’ Vendramin Calergi on the Grand Canal, which is now the Venice Casino with rooms set aside for the Museum run by the Wagner Society. It contains one of the best collections of documents and memorabilia relating to the composer. After lunch there is the option to continue with a guided ‘Music in Venice’ tour that visits significant sites related to the likes of Albinoni, the librettist Goldoni and Mozart. We visit the church where Monteverdi is buried, Venice’s oldest theatre, San Cassian, and the Malibran theatre, as well as the new museum in the Conservatory. Evening at leisure. (B,D)

SUN 26 MAY     VENICE – ROME

Our train this morning departs for the final destination in our itinerary, Rome – the Eternal City. Following check in at our hotel, the rest of the day is at leisure, with an optional dinner at a local restaurant. (B)

MON 27 MAY     ROME

Today begins with the Tosca tour, during which we visit the locations of the opera’s three acts: the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, the Palazzo Farnese and the imposing Castel Sant’Angelo. In the afternoon there will be a chance to see Rome from a different angle during a Tiber river cruise. This evening will be spent at an early farewell dinner. (B,D)

TUE 28 MAY     ROME

Take your time today to do some shopping and/or explore those of Rome’s many historical sites that are on your ‘to see’ wish list before meeting at the hotel to set out for the Teatro Costanzi, home of the Rome Opera. The Fiery Angel, the powerful fifth of Prokofiev’s nine completed operas, concludes the music program for the tour. Sung in Russian, the performance is presented with both Italian and English surtitles. (B)

WED 29 MAY     DEPART ROME

Our farewells done, guests arrange their individual departures.

I look forward to meeting you and sharing memorable performances and some wonderful sights during what promises to be a splendid 17 days in the company of like-minded travellers.

~Robert Mitchell

GENERAL INFORMATION AND SPECIAL BOOKING CONDITIONS

TOUR PRICE:
Land Only per person, twin-share $11,940.00
Single Supplement $2,420.00

LAND ONLY TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
• Tickets to 9 performances as per itinerary
• Train from Paris – Lyon, lyon – Milan, Milan – Venice, Venice – Rome
• Twin-share accommodation in comfortable hotels with private facilities
• All city taxes
• Transfers, touring and entry fees as indicated in the itinerary
• Transport in comfortable air conditioned coaches
• Breakfast daily and other meals as indicated in the itinerary
• Service of a Tour Leader throughout the itinerary
• Service of English speaking guides through the itinerary
• All applicable tipping and gratuities for group arrangements
• Alumni Travel tour booklet and wallet

LAND ONLY TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• Return international air travel from Australia to Europe
• Applicable passenger airport taxes
• Meals not listed in itinerary
• Beverages with meals
• Airport to hotel transfers if not travelling on suggested flights
• Visa requirements of the tour member
• Travel Insurance
• Items of personal nature (telephone, laundry, etc)

AIRFARES:
Please contact Tony at Alumni Travel (tony@outandabouttravel.com.au) for the best fares available at the time of booking. Airfares are subject to change up until final payment has been received. Once the ticket is issued, airline cancellation and amendment conditions will apply. If you have additional travel in mind and require an earlier departure there may be a supplement payable.

I’m Interested…How Do I Book?
Fill in the online Booking Form, read and agree with our Terms & Conditions, select your payment option for your deposit of $450.00 per person to Alumni Travel and Submit. Upon receipt of your Booking Form and deposit, you will receive a confirmation of your place in writing.

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT:
The deposit is accepted as a first installment of the tour cost and will be fully refunded if the arrangements can not be confirmed or the tour is cancelled by Alumni Travel. Final payment for the tour needs to be received at least 60 days prior to tour departure. An invoice will be sent to you about a fortnight before the final payment becomes due.

CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS:
Any cancellation from the tour needs to be done in writing. The cancellation date will be taken from the day your written cancellation is received by Alumni Travel. Because of the tour cancellation charges imposed by our various suppliers, the following cancellation charges apply, per person:

Over 60 days $50.00 – Administration Fee
59 – 40 days 25% of tour cost
39 – 10 days 50% of tour cost
Within 10 days 100% of tour cost

If a difference occurs between these cancellation conditions and those imposed by our suppliers, then the conditions of the supplier shall apply.

There is no refund before or after travel has commenced or for any unused portion of the tour, either in regard to the standard group arrangements or separate independent arrangements.

CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS:
Any payments by credit card will be subject to a 2% non-refundable Merchant Administration Fee.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:
It is now standard policy with our company that all our international travellers have some type of international travel insurance, so that you are covered for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. A comprehensive Insurance brochure is available from Alumni Travel. The insurance brochure contains the terms and conditions under which insurance cover will be offered to you.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS:
If you would like Alumni Travel to assist you with any additional arrangements pre or post tour, please contact our office for assistance at time of booking. All arrangements need to be finalised at least 30 days prior to your departure.

AMENDMENTS:
An administration fee of $30.00 per amendment will be charged for any changes made to any reservation within 30 days prior to your departure. Any additional charges imposed by our suppliers will also be payable.

PASSPORT AND VISAS:
It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure that they possess the necessary travel documentation for the tour, such as a valid passport and any required visas. Your passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your journey and have two clear pages for each country to be visited in your journey.

FORCED CANCELLATION:
In the event that passenger numbers do not reach the minimum number of tour participants (approximately 8, excluding the tour leader) required for the tour, it may be necessary to either surcharge or cancel the tour. If such an event does occur, you will be notified at least 60 days prior to the tour departure.

TOUR PRICES:
This tour price has been calculated on the basis of exchange rates and tariffs at time of print and is subject to change up until final payment has been received. At the time of final invoicing (approximately two months prior to the tour departure date), Alumni Travel reserves the right to re-cost the tour based on actual exchange rates. This could mean an increase or decrease to the above listed prices. Should you decide to cancel your arrangements on the basis of a change in the tour price, normal cancellation charges will apply.

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