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.
Despite being a quintessential Italian operatic composer, Giacomo Puccini, who was usually drawn to exotic subjects, set very few of his operas in Italy. One major exception is Tosca, with it time- and site-specific settings in Rome. His second great success, Tosca was premiered in Rome just two weeks into the 20th century, and in many ways it is a ‘modern’ work.
But the most harmonically daring of all Puccini’s operas is Turandot, left unfinished at the time of his death in 1924. It again exemplifies Puccini’s fascination with the exotic – Ancient China, in this instance – and is seen by many as representing the end of Italian opera as a popular art form.
This tour allows us to experience both Denmark’s musical excellence – in Henning Larsen’s dazzling opera house, one of the best equipped in the world – and explore one of northern Europe’s most beautiful cities; Copenhagen is an exciting hub of contemporary culture and design, with a string of world-class art collections and museums.
Fly at c. 2.00pm from London Heathrow to Copenhagen (Scandinavian Airlines). There is time to settle into the hotel before dinner.
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. Dinner before the performance at the Copenhagen Opera House: Turandot (Giacomo Puccini), Alexander Vedernikov (conductor), Lorenzo Fioroni (director), The Royal Danish Orchestra and Choir, Ann Petersen/Katrin Kapplusch (Princess Turandot), Sung Kyu Park (Prince Calàf), Sine Bundgaard (Liù), Sten Byriel (Timur), Palle Knudsen (Ping), Gert Henning-Jensen (Pang), Jens Christian Tvilum (Pong), Simon Duus (A Mandarin).
Lecture on the evening’s opera. Cross the water by boat for a private tour of the opera house. 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). Dinner at the Copenhagen Opera House before an evening opera: Tosca (Giacomo Puccini), Jun Märkl/Robert Houssart (conductor), Peter Langdal (director), The Royal Danish Orchestra and Choir, Maria Pia Piscitelli (Floria Tosca), Niels Jørgen Riis (Mario Cavaradossi), Jens Søndergaard (Baron Scarpia), Kyungil Ko (Cesare Angelotti), Sten Byriel (A Sacristan), Jens Christian Tvilum (Spoletta), Martin Vilbrand (Sciarrione).
In the morning we suggest a visit to the Rosenborg Palace, royal residence from the 17th century, or one of the city’s many museums. Fly to London Heathrow, arriving at c. 5.30pm.
Dr John Allison
Editor of Opera magazine and music critic for The Daily Telegraph. He was born in South Africa and completed his PhD degree while playing the piano and working as assistant organist at Cape Town cathedral. Since moving to London in 1989 he has written for publications around the world, authored two books, contributed chapters to several other volumes and served on the juries of many international competitions. He has also held positions as music critic on The Sunday Telegraph and the Times.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,160 or £1,990 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,470 or £2,300 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 (72-hour Copenhagen Card); all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Tickets for 2 operas are included, costing c. £215.
Phoenix Copenhagen: a traditional 4-star hotel close to the Amalienborg Palace.
We reach the opera house on foot 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.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.