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.
The Theater an der Wien was built by the impresario who first staged Mozart’s Magic Flute, Emanuel Schikenader, in 1801.
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.2.15pm 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 imperial apartments. Evening opera at the Staatsoper: La Bohème (Giacomo Puccini), Speranza Scappucci (conductor), Jean-François Borras (Rodolfo), Anita Hartig (Mimì), Alessio Arduini (Marcello), Valentina Naforniţa (Musetta).
The daily talk precedes a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of the world’s greatest art galleries. Then walk through a series of gardens to a restaurant for lunch. Free time afterwards, or visit an apartment lived in by Beethoven. An evening at the Staatsoper: Otello (Giuseppe Verdi), Dan Ettinger (conductor), Roberto Alagna (Otello), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Iago), Alexandru Moisiuc (Lodovico), Aleksandra Kurzak (Desdemona).
A morning walk through the centre of the inner city includes the Stephansdom, the great Gothic cathedral, the Baroque church of St Peter and an apartment where Mozart lived. There is some free time before a late-afternoon talk, an early dinner and an evening performance at the Theater an der Wien: Fidelio (Beethoven, concert performance), Giovanni Antonini (conductor), Annette Dasch (Leonore), Klaus Florian Vogt (Florestan), Regula Mühlemann (Marzelline), Sebastian Holecek (Don Pizarro), Stefan Cerny (Rocco), Patrick Grahl (Jaquino), Matthias Winckhler (Don Fernando), Kammerorchester Basel, Gaechinger Cantorey.
The final morning is free before the journey to the airport. The flight to Heathrow arrives at c.4.00pm.
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: £2,440 or £2,260 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,710 or £2,530 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 lunch and 3 dinners with wine; all admissions to museums and sites; all gratuities for restaurant staff, drivers, guides; all airport and state taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Tickets (first category) for 3 operas are included, costing c. £425. Tickets have been requested and are due to be confirmed in Autumn 2017.
Hotel Bristol: a 5-star hotel in a superb location on the Ringstrasse near the opera house, traditionally furnished and decorated.
There is quite a lot of walking on this tour, mainly through the town 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 FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
'The lecturer was truly a reference in musical knowledge and the tour manager managed the reservations everywhere in a wonderful and efficient way.'
'The itinerary was exciting, providing much of interest in Vienna coupled with four very different operas.'