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. Long reserved for musicals, it has only in the last few years begun to stage opera again, particularly of the Baroque era.
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. 11.30am 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: Parsifal (Wagner), Valery Gergiev (conductor), Matthias Goerne (Amfortas), René Pape (Gurnemanz), Simon O`Neill (Parsifal), Boaz Daniel (Klingsor), Elena Zhidkova (Kundry).
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. An evening at the Staatsoper: Salome (Richard Strauss), Michael Boder (conductor), Herwig Pecoraro (Herodes), Jane Henschel (Herodias), Gun-Brit Barkmin (Salome), Markus Marquardt (Jochanaan).
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 and an early dinner. Evening at the Staatsoper: Fidelio (Beethoven), Adam Fischer (conductor), Thomas Johannes Mayer (Don Pizarro), Brandon Jovanovich (Florestan), Anne Schwanewilms (Leonore), Lars Woldt (Rocco), Chen Reiss (Marzelline).
The daily talk is followed by a visit to the excellent Museum of Applied Arts, especially rewarding for Secessionist (Art Nouveau) furniture and design. Free time is followed by dinner and an evening at the theatre which was built by Emanuel Schikenader in 1801. Opera at the Theater an der Wien: Rinaldo (Handel), Jean-Christophe Spinosi (conductor), Filippo Mineccia (Rinaldo), Dara Savinova (Goffredo), Ekaterina Bakanova (Almirena), Eric Jurenas (Eustazio), Riccardo Novaro (Argante), Emilie Rose Bry (Armida), Ensemble Matheus (orchestra).
Some free time in the morning before the journey to the airport. The flight to Heathrow arrives at c. 1.30pm.
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.
Specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th century with a wide knowledge of the performing arts. He graduated in Psychology and Art History from Carleton College, Minnesota and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. Since 1987 he has lived in Berlin and has organised and led many academic tours in Germany. Tom has a particular interest in the German and American architectural and artistic modern including the Bauhaus and Expressionism.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £3,270 or £2,960 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,610 or £3,300 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 4 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 4 operas are included, costing c. £740. Tickets are due to be confirmed in Autumn 2018.
Hotel Bristol, Vienna: 5-star hotel in a superb location on the Ringstrasse near the opera house, traditionally furnished and decorated. Single rooms are small doubles with queen size beds.
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.
'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.'