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Opera in Brno & Prague - Janáček, Smetana, Verdi & Puccini

Operas by Puccini, Verdi, Smetana and Janáček and a concert with Smetana’s Má Vlast.

Two cities of exceptional beauty and interest.

Led by musicologist Professor Jan Smaczny who gives talks on the performances.

Visits and walks with a local guide.

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Prague and Brno are two of the great operatic capitals of Europe. Prague is celebrated for the enthusiasm with which Mozart’s operas were received during his lifetime as well as for the pioneering works of Smetana and Dvořák which founded the Czech operatic tradition. Prominent among the city’s architectural riches are the 18th-century Estates theatre (where Don Giovanni was premiered and Weber and Mahler conducted) and the National Theatre of a hundred years later, a shrine to the nation standing proudly on the banks of the Vltava. Three of the operas are performed in this sumptuous building.

The tour starts in Brno, second city of the Czech Republic and capital of Moravia, a highly attractive place which enjoys a rich cultural scene, though is neglected by tourists. Here in the 1960s Janáček Theatre we see Tosca, Puccini’s melodramatic masterpiece.

Our first performance in Prague is of Smetana’s Má vlast (My Country). This cycle of symphonic poems celebrating the landscape, mythology and history of Bohemia is a national touchstone, and its performance at the start of the Prague Spring Festival which we attend is always an emotional and inspiring occasion.

The first performance in Prague is the first of Verdi’s three Shakespeare operas, the thrilling and visceral Macbeth, now regarded as one of his greatest earlier masterpieces. Epic, touching and often hilarious, Janáček’s The Excursions of Mr Brouček follows the adventures of Brouček on his travels to the Moon and back in time to fifteenth-century Prague. Our final opera is Smetana’s ravishingly beautiful Dalibor, the composer’s own favourite.

Day 1

Brno. Fly at c. 10.00am from Heathrow to Vienna and drive to Brno, arriving in time for dinner. First of two nights in Brno.

Day 2

Brno. The present capital of Moravia, Brno has a wealth of Gothic and Baroque churches, and fine architecture of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. A walk and excursion in the morning includes a visit by special arrangement  to the Villa Tugendhadt, a major work by Mies van der Rohe (subject to confirmation). Free afternoon. Opera at the Janáček Theatre: Tosca (Puccini), Jakub Klecker (conductor), Jiří Heřman (director), Orchestra of the Janacek Theatre Brno, cast to be confirmed.

Day 3

Brno, Prague. Drive to Prague (c. 130 miles on motorway), arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon there is a guided tour of the Estates Theatre, one of the finest of Europe’s surviving 18th-century opera houses. Concert at the Obecní dům: Má vlast (Smetana), Semyon Bychkov (conductor), Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. First of four nights in Prague.

Day 4

Prague. Morning walk through the Old Town, a dense maze of streets and squares with buildings of all ages and an exceptionally lovely main square. Return to the Obecní dům (‘Municipal House’) to see the glorious suite of assembly rooms created 1904–12. Free afternoon. Opera at the National Theatre: Macbeth (Verdi), Jiří Štrunc (conductor), cast to be confirmed.

Day 5

Prague. Prague Castle is an extensive hilltop complex, residence of Dukes and Kings of Bohemia and now of the president. The Old Royal Palace rises from Romanesque through Gothic to Renaissance, the chief glory being the extraordinary 1490s vaulting of the Great Hall. There follows a wonderful sequence of halls not open to the public, dating from the 1570s to the 1930s (state occasions permitting). The Gothic cathedral is richly embellished with chapels, tombs, altarpieces and stained glass. Free afternoon. Opera at the National Theatre: The Excursions of Mr Brouček (Janáček), Jaroslav Kyzlink (conductor), cast to be confirmed.

Day 6

Prague. Walk across the 14th-century Charles Bridge, the greatest such structure in Europe, to the ‘Lesser Town’. See St Nicholas, one of the finest Baroque churches in Central Europe, and the collection of musical instruments in the Czech Museum of Music. Opera at the National Theatre: Dalibor (Smetana), cast to be confirmed.

Day 7

Prague. Strahov Monastery has commanding views over Prague and two magnificent library halls, which we enter by special arrangement. A final walk passes the formidable bulk of the Černín Palace and the delightful façade of the Loreto Church. Fly to London Heathrow, arriving at c. 2.45pm.

Price – per person

Two sharing: £3,230 or £3,060 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,660 or £3,490 without flights.


Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus A320); private coach for airport transfers and excursions; hotel accommodation as described below; 4 dinners and 1 lunch with wine;  all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and Czech guide-interpreter.


Tickets (top category) to 4 operas and 1 concert are included, costing c. £300. Tickets are confirmed in December 2019.


Grandezza Hotel, Brno: a boutique hotel, the Grandezza Hotel is located in the heart of Brno’s historic centre The Green Market. Hotel ParisPrague: a 5-star hotel built in 1904 that retains the Art Nouveau theme throughout. Comfortable and elegant but not fussy with a good restaurant and café­. Very well located in the Old Town close to Obecní dům (Municipal House). Single rooms are doubles for sole use.

How strenuous?

There is quite a lot of walking, much of it on roughly paved streets, some on inclines. The tour would not be suitable for anyone with difficulties with everyday walking and stair-climbing.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Group size

Between 10 and 21 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.