Country House Opera and Gardens
Attend the first week of the BBC Proms followed by a leisurely journey through the beautiful English countryside, famous for its gardens, stately homes and ‘country house opera’.
Begin in London with summer evenings at the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall and Opera Holland Park. Then, enjoy a week’s tour across the south of England for stylish evenings of opera and music at West Green House Opera in Hampshire and Glyndebourne Festival Opera in East Sussex.
By day you will explore the grand country homes, glorious gardens, historic towns and attractions of these two much-coveted counties of England. Then, glam it up (black tie de rigeur) for elegant opera evenings and exclusive dinners.
Arrive in London and check-in to your hotel. This evening, join Nicholas Selman and fellow travellers for an early
dinner, followed by the first of your BBC Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall – featuring the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with Principal Conductor Thomas Søndergård, and brilliant young Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov.
Sibelius – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105
Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93
Following a morning talk on the BBC Proms and Opera Holland Park performances, begin your London stay with a visit to Kenwood House, which has recently reopened after complete refurbishment. Set on the edge of Hampstead Heath and surrounded by tranquil landscaped gardens, Kenwood House is a fine example of a neo-classical villa set in acres of lush parklands with glorious views over the city of London. This elegant Robert Adam designed villa houses some of the finest artworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough. Mid-afternoon return to your hotel.
This evening attend the second of your BBC Proms concerts. Violinist Nicola Benedetti joins Thomas Søndergård and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as they continue their exploration of music by Shostakovich and Sibelius.
Sibelius – Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
Shostakovich – symphonic poem October
Spend the morning in the exclusive Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Begin with a visit to Leighton House Museum, the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). One of the most remarkable buildings of the nineteenth century, Leighton House Museum contains a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries.
Continue to the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanic garden, founded in 1673, for training apothecaries. Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden houses a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants within its sheltering walls.
Tonight, enjoy a performance of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová at Opera Holland Park, London’s much loved summer opera company which performs under a spectacular canopy to the back-drop of Holland House, in Holland Park, west London. Janáček’s extraordinary masterpiece, Kat’á Kabanová, makes a welcome return to Opera Holland Park this season in Olivia Fuch’s highly regarded 2009 production to be conducted by Sian Edwards with Julia Sporsén as Kát’a Kabanová , Anne Mason as Kabanicha and Peter Hoare as Boris.
Begin your discovery of the great country houses and gardens of Britain with a day trip along the Thames to historic Cliveden. Today a luxury hotel, for more than 300 years Cliveden was home to dukes, earls, viscounts and for a while a prince. A glittering hub of society, Cliveden hosted exclusive parties and political gatherings, later becoming infamously associated with the Profumo Affair. Set high above the Thames with far-reaching views, Cliveden’s grand house, impressive gardens and majestic woodlands capture the grandeur of a bygone age.
Check-out and departure from London for Kew Gardens. After a morning guided visit and break for lunch on your own continue to your country house hotel near Basingstoke in the heart of Hampshire.
This morning you will visit Hinton Ampner, an elegant country house with an outstanding collection of furniture, paintings and objets d’art. After a fire in 1960, the house was remodelled by the owner, Ralph Dutton, the eighth and last Lord Sherborne, who was also responsible for the design of the gardens, widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of 20th century design. Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the historic city of Winchester, England’s ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great. Visit Winchester Cathedral, Europe’s longest medieval cathedral with more than 1000 years of history and the burial place of Jane Austen. Late afternoon return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Following a morning talk on this evening’s performance, visit Jane Austen’s House Museum in nearby Chawton village. From 1809 until 1817, Jane Austen lived here and produced all her novels, revising all previous drafts, including Pride and Prejudice, and writing her three later novels, including Emma, in their entirety. 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen who was so deeply inspired by the people and places of Hampshire.
This evening, attend Verdi’s A Masked Ball at West Green House Opera. Before the performance, enjoy a stroll and dinner in the gardens. Created by acclaimed garden designer and writer, Marylyn Abbott and situated in picturesque North Hampshire, the gardens are a blend of traditional style with contemporary design and have recently been dubbed ‘one of the Twenty Best Great British Gardens to visit” by The Times.
Depart Hampshire for a leisurely day’s drive across the south of England.
En route stop for a visit to Petworth House and Park, located in the South Downs. The vast late 17th-century mansion Petworth House is set in a beautiful 283-hectare (700-acre) deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings.
Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Constable, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
Late afternoon arrival at your hotel in East Sussex.
Begin your exploration of the gardens of East Sussex with a visit to Wakehurst, the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Set in 465 acres of country estate with ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands and an Elizabethan mansion, Wakehurst is renowned for the Kew Millennium Seed Bank, the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world.
Mid-afternoon, depart for an evening at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, near Lewes. The curtain rose on the first performance of the Opera Festival at Glyndebourne on 28th May, 1934. It was the culmination of one man’s obsession with the idea of presenting ‘not the best we can do, but the best that can be done anywhere’. Since then, John Christie’s vision, shared by his opera singer wife Audrey Mildmay, has developed into one of the world’s most revered opera houses.
Tonight, enjoy a performance of of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti, the cast includes Renato Girolami (Don Pasquale), Lisette Oropesa (Norina), Andrew Stenson (Ernesto) and Andrey Zhilikhovsky (Dr Malatesta). Inspired by Les liaisons dangereuses, Mariame Clément’s colourful production is set in the opera’s original 18th-century milieu, echoing the elegance of Donizetti’s music.
Spend the day exploring two of Britain’s finest gardens – Pashley Manor and Great Dixter.
Begin in the traditional splendour of Pashley Manor, a quintessential English garden which offers a sumptuous blend of romantic landscaping, imaginative plantings and fine old trees, fountains, springs and large ponds.
After lunch at the Garden Room Café continue to Great Dixter, the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd. It was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is an historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.
This morning visit nearby Charleston, the home and country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury group. The interior was painted by the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and together with their collection forms a unique example of their decorative style.
This evening, return to Glyndebourne Festival Opera for Richard Strauss’s late-Romantic comedy Ariadne auf Naxos. Conducted by Cornelius Meister, Katharina Thoma’s imaginative production stars Thomas Allen (Music Master), Lise Davidsen (Ariadne), Angela Brower (Composer), Erin Morley (Zerbinetta) and AJ Glueckert (Bacchus).
During the long interval, partake in a Glyndebourne tradition, a fully catered picnic on the lawns.
After a leisurely breakfast, depart the hotel in the later morning. Midday arrival and drop-off in Central London.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
21 May 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for the United Kingdom.
Tour price includes
- Eleven (11) night’s accommodation including full English breakfast (B)
- Transport throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Comprehensive sightseeing and garden visits with local guides including all entrance fees
- Many lunches (L) and / or dinners (D) including wines
- A-reserve tickets for six performances, including:
- Two BBC Proms concerts and one Opera Holland Park performance (London)
- One opera performance at West Green House Opera
- Two opera performances at Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
- Transfer on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, mini-bar etc.
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (recommended)
London – Royal Garden Hotel
Hampshire – Tylney Hall
East Sussex – Ashdown Park Hotel
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted