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Opera & Ballet in Copenhagen - Mozart, R. Strauss, Debussy and the Royal Danish Ballet

Two performances at Copenhagen’s extraordinary Opera House (2005): Mozart’s Idomeneo and Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss.

One ballet: Blixen at the Old Stage (1874) to music by Debussy.

Private tours of the Opera House and the court theatre at the Christiansborg Palace.

A walk with a local guide and free time for the city’s outstanding museums.


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Scandinavia has long played a distinguished role in the history of music. Denmark has intensified its commitment to this heritage and increasingly offers world-class standards of music, as well as one of the most exciting new opera houses created in recent years – indeed Henning Larsen’s dazzling creation is one of the best equipped in the world.

Copenhagen is a strikingly attractive capital, and a relatively small one. It is an exciting hub of contemporary culture and design with a wealth of museums and art galleries, palaces and theatres. These range from the court theatre at the Christiansborg Palace to the Peacock theatre staging commedia-dell’arte-inspired pantomimes in the pleasure gardens of Tivoli.

The Royal Danish Ballet, founded in 1784, is not only one of the longest established dance companies in the world but also one of the most enjoyable of those performing today. It combines a rich heritage repertory with contemporary creativity. We see a performance based on the captivating life story of one of Denmark’s greatest writers at the recently refurbished Old Stage, choreographed by one of the company’s principal dancers.

The tour’s operatic offerings are rooted in Greek myth and legend. The first is Mozart’s Idomeneo. Premiered two days after his 25th birthday, this early work (his first major opera) features some of Mozart’s most imaginative and emotional music. The second is Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. Inventive and playful, comedy and love collide in a passionate performance as rich with farce as it is with tragedy.

Day 1

Fly at c. 10.00am from London Heathrow to Copenhagen (Scandinavian Airlines). A visit to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, the magnificent benefaction of a brewer, it has collections of Mediterranean antiquities, particularly Roman portrait sculpture, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Golden Age paintings and much else besides. There is time to settle into the hotel before dinner.

Day 2

Start with a lecture on this evening’s performance. A walk passes the Amalienborg, an ensemble of 1750s palaces, the English church, Gefion Fountain, the Little Mermaid, bastions of the Kastellet and (across the water) the opera house. In the afternoon travel by coach for the opportunity to visit one of the city’s finest art collections (self-guided): the Statens Museum for Kunst, the National Gallery of Denmark, which holds an extensive selection of Danish art from the Golden Age to the present day and a fine collection of European Old Masters. Coach back to the hotel for some free time before dinner and an evening ballet at the Old Stage: Blixen to music by Debussy. Choreography by Gregory Dean of The Royal Danish Ballet, Robert Houssart (conductor), The Royal Danish Orchestra.

Day 3

Lecture on the evening’s opera. Cross the water by boat for a private tour of the beautiful Operaen (Copenhagen Opera House), built 2000–2005 to the designs of Henning Larsen and others.. Free afternoon. The National Museum is recommended (artefacts prehistoric to contemporary, Vikings the highlight) or one of the city’s many other museums and galleries (the tour includes a card granting free admission). An evening opera at the Copenhagen Opera House: Idomeneo (W.A. Mozart), Robert Carsen (conductor), The Royal Danish Orchestra and Choir, Niels Jørgen Riis (Idomeneo), Gert Henning-Jensen (Idamante), Sine Bundgaard (Elettra), Margaux de Valensart (Ilia), Michael Kristensen (Arbace), Morten Staugaard (Voice of the Oralce).

Day 4

The morning is free. We suggest a visit to the Rosenborg Palace, a fully furnished royal residence from the 17th century. An afternoon lecture precedes a guided tour of the court theatre at the Christiansborg Palace. Dinner before an evening opera at the Copenhagen Opera House: Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss), Alexander Vedernikov (conductor), Katie Mitchell (director), The Royal Danish Orchestra and Choir, Ann Petersen (Ariadne), Daniel Johansson (Bacchus), Heather Engebretson (Zerbinetta), Elisabeth Jansson (Composer), Michael Kraus (Music Master), Jens Christian Tvilum (Dance Master), Joakim Larsson (Wig Maker), Palle Knudsen (Harlequin).

Day 5

The morning is free. Fly to London Heathrow, arriving at c. 5.30pm.

Price – per person

Two sharing: £2,710 or £2,580 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,120 or £2,990 without flights.


Flights (economy class) with Scandinavian Airlines (aircraft: Airbus A320); coach or boat for excursions as specified in the itinerary; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 3 dinners with wine, water and coffee; all admissions (120-hour Copenhagen Card); all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.


Tickets for 3 performances are included, costing c. £270. At the time of going to print not all tickets were confirmed.


Phoenix Copenhagen: a traditional 4-star hotel close to the Amalienborg Palace.

How strenuous?

We reach the opera house by coach and by boat. Participants need to be fit enough to manage this, the city walks and to cope easily with stair climbing. Average distance by coach per day: 5 miles.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Group size

Between 10 and 22 participants.

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.