Not content with being the most important city in the history of western music, Vienna continues to nurture an exceptionally active cultural life of a high level of excellence. Music and opera are cherished (and paid for) by government and citizens perhaps more than anywhere else in the world.
Vienna is notoriously wedded to tradition, and Staatsoper productions are generally not what could be called progressive by standards prevalent in the German-speaking world. But stagecraft, stage design and dramatic portrayal are of the highest order, and the house continues to attract the world’s finest singers and conductors. And of course it enjoys the supreme skills and sumptuous sound of the Vienna Philharmonic, the orchestra in residence. Highly sophisticated audiences and critics give no quarter to complacency or laziness; opera at the Staatsoper is a fairly safe bet.
Each day there is a session of talks and discussions about the evening’s opera. There are also guided tours on foot to a choice selection of Vienna’s art and architecture and musical heritage, but also plenty of free time for rest, recuperation and preparation for the next performance.
Fly at c. 12.30pm from London Heathrow to Vienna (British Airways). Arrive at the hotel in time to settle in before dinner.
A talk on the music is followed by a visit to the Hofburg, the sprawling Habsburg palace where we see inter alia the splendid library hall and the imperial apartments. Free afternoon. Evening opera at the Staatsoper: The Magic Flute (Mozart), Adam Fischer (conductor), Moshe Leiser, Patrice Caurier (directors), René Pape (Sarastro), Long Long (Tamino), Sabine Devieilhe (Queen of the Night), Regula Mühlemann (Pamina), Andrè Schuen (Papageno).
The daily talk precedes a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of the world’s greatest art galleries. Free afternoon. An evening at the Staatsoper: Die Walküre (Wagner), Adam Fischer (conductor), Sven-Eric Bechtolf (director), Andreas Schager (Siegmund), Mika Kares (Hunding), Günther Groissböck (Wotan), Camilla Nylund (Sieglinde), Martina Serafin (Brünnhilde), Okka von der Damerau (Fricka).
A morning walk through the centre of the inner city includes the Stephansdom, the great Gothic cathedral and the Baroque church of St Peter. After lunch there is free time followed by an evening at the Staatsoper: Faust (Gounod), Bertrand de Billy (conductor)
Frank Castorf (director), Juan Diego Flórez (Faust), Nicole Car (Marguerite), Adam Palka (Méphistopélès), Boris Prygl (Valentin), Peter Kellner (Wagner), Virginie Verrez (Siébel), Monika Bohinec (Marthe).
Journey to the airport. The flight to Heathrow arrives at c. 1.00pm.
Writer, lecturer and broadcaster specialising in Wagner. He is founder/editor of The Wagner Journal and author of eight books on Wagner including The Wagner Compendium and Richard Wagner: The Sorcerer of Bayreuth. He is Chief Critic for the Evening Standard. He has also acted as dramaturgical adviser at opera houses internationally.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,910 or £2,780 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,270 or £3,140 without flights.
Air travel (economy class) on scheduled British Airways flights (Airbus A320); private coach for airport transfers and some travel by tram; breakfasts, 1 lunches and 2 dinners with wine, interval drinks and interval fingerfood at 1 performance; all admissions to museums and sites; all gratuities for restaurant staff, drivers, guides; all airport and state taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Tickets for 3 operas are included, costing c. £620. Tickets are confirmed in the autumn.
Hotel Bristol: a 5-star hotel in a superb location on the Ringstrasse near the opera house, traditionally furnished and decorated. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
There is quite a lot of walking on this tour, mainly through the city centre where vehicular access is limited. Average distance by coach per day: 5 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'Travelling with Martin Randall is always a pleasure – no worries about transport, food, tickets for museums etc. The lecturers always greatly add to the pleasure and understanding of the tours.'
'Excellent lecturer – greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the operas we attended.'
'As always with Martin Randall, a completely lovely, almost effortless (for us), happy experience.'