Opéra à la française
Pack your bags for a fortnight of grand opera and music in the cultural centres of France, in the glorious northern summer.
In the company of classical music broadcaster Christopher Lawrence, begin in Paris for performances by the Paris National Opera of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Verdi’s Il trovatore, Donizetti’s comic Don Pasquale and a recital by Polish tenor Piotr Beczala. Travel onward to stately Lyon for Mozart’s magnificent Don Giovanni by the Lyon Opera.
Continue south to the heart of Provence for three full days of sumptuous opera, recitals and chamber music at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, whose 2018 programme includes Henry Purcell’s mighty Dido and Aeneas, Mozart’s musical genius The Magic Flute, Sergei Prokofiev’s dramatic The Fiery Angel, Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (directed by Katie Mitchell).
Suggested departure from Australia or New Zealand in the afternoon on Emirates flights to Paris via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Overnight in flight.
Arrive in Paris in the early afternoon and check in to the hotel. In the early evening, join Christopher and fellow opera lovers for a welcome briefing and an introduction to tomorrow night’s performance of Boris Godunov, followed by a special welcome dinner.
After breakfast, depart for a walking tour of the Marais Quarter in the centre of Paris, where Mediæval Paris abuts pre-Revolutionary buildings and streets. Starting from the St Paul Church, stroll to the Place des Vosges, the centre of the Marais neighbourhood during the Renaissance, and then pass by magnificent private mansions.
Enjoy free time for lunch and a leisurely afternoon in the Marais Quarter, or take a walk along the banks of the River Seine. The right bank of the Seine was historically associated with luxury, power and commerce, while the left bank was the traditional home of students and intellectuals.
In the evening, attend a performance of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Opéra Bastille. Conducted by Damian Iorio, the opera stars the Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as Tsar Boris Godunov, Evdokia Malevskaya as his son Fyodor and the Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan as his daughter Kseniya.
In the morning, enjoy a pre-performance talk by Christopher on the next two days’ performances.
Lunch and the afternoon are at leisure to explore the charming city of Paris on your own, including the latest museums, galleries and exhibitions.
In the evening, return to the Opéra Bastille for Verdi’s ever-popular Il trovatore, under the baton of Maurizio Benini. Serbian baritone Željko Lučić plays the Conte di Luna, tenor Marcelo Alvarez is Manrico the Troubador and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky plays Leonora, the noblewoman caught between the two.
This morning, visit the Palais Garnier, resplendent with rich architecture and décor, including an exclusive backstage tour only available for private groups such as ours. From the majestic auditorium of the Grand Escalier (Main Staircase) to the lounges and the foyers, admire the abundant paintings and sculptures of this incredible palace and discover some of its mysteries and incredible stories.
Afterwards, enjoy free time to stroll along the grand Parisian boulevards, perhaps visiting the Louvre Museum, Place Vendôme or the Tuileries Gardens.
In the evening, return to the Palais Garnier for a recital by Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and French pianist Sarah Tysman.
After breakfast, explore the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Opened in late 2014 and designed by Frank Gehry. The foundation is a private cultural initiative whose aim is to promote and support contemporary artistic creation for a wide French and international audience.
Enjoy lunch at fine Paris restaurant, return to the hotel for the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, attend Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale at the Palais Garnier. Conducted by Evelino Pidò, the cast features Michele Pertusi as Don Pasquale, French baritone Florian Sempey as Dottor Malatesta, American tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Ernesto and soprano Nadine Sierra as Norina.
Check out of the hotel and depart Paris for Beaune, one of the main cities of the Burgundy region. Enjoy lunch in Beaune before continuing to Lyon, the ‘Food Capital of the World’.
Arrive in Lyon in the late afternoon and check in to the hotel. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
Following a talk on tonight’s performance, explore Lyon with a walking tour of the Mediæval and Renaissance district of Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), whose remarkable preservation has seen it inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Walk through the narrow cobbled alleyways and the famous traboules (passageways) that reveal superbly renovated architectural treasures.
Enjoy lunch in one of the city’s famous bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants), before free time in the afternoon.
Tonight, attend Mozart’s comic drama Don Giovanni at the Lyon Opera, conducted by Stefano Montanari. The amorous Don Giovanni is played by bass-baritone Philippe Sly, and the cast is rounded out by Italian soprano Eleonora Buratto as Donna Anna, French tenor Julien Behr as Don Ottavio and mezzo-soprano Antoinette Dennefeld as Donna Elvira.
After breakfast, journey north of Lyon to the world famous Beaujolais viticultural region, with more than 18,000 hectares of vines under cultivation. Continuing an ancient history of vine growing, the first vineyards were planted by the Romans in what was then the province of Gallia Lugudinensis (Lyonnaise Gaul).
Travel to a selection of vineyards passing through the magnificent summertime countryside that forms a perfect complement to fine wine.
Return to Lyon in the late afternoon before an evening at leisure.
Check out of the hotel and depart Lyon for Aix-en-Provence, stopping for lunch in the lovely city of Orange, situated in the rugged and dramatically beautiful region of Vaucluse.
In the late afternoon, arrive in the delightful university city of Aix-en-Provence.
In the evening, attend the first of four performances as part of the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Henry Purcell’s masterpiece of baroque music Dido and Aeneas. The masterpiece of baroque music is conducted by the former artist of the Aix-en-Provence Academy Vincent Huguet, with Kelebogile Pearl Besong as Dido, Sophia Burgos as Belinda and Tobias Greenhalgh as Aeneas.
The Aix-en-Provence Festival
The annual Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence presents a programme of magnificent operatic performances, enriched with orchestral, chamber and solo music. The first festival took place in July 1948, only 3 years after the conclusion of World War II, in an attempt to give a new artistic ambition to war-ravaged France. Founded by philanthropist Comptesse Lily Pastré and for several decades directed by ‘Le Magicien d’Aix’, impressario Gabriel Dussurget, the festival has become one of the world’s great celebrations of opera and classical music.
Following a talk this morning by Christopher on the upcoming performances, enjoy a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence. Stroll along the bustling Cours Mirabeau and walk through the 17th century Mazarin Quarter, discovering the many squares embellished by stately fountains and the extraordinary heritage of over 140 private mansions from the 17th and 18th centuries. Conclude with a guided tour of the Granet Museum, featuring paintings by the likes of Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck, Paul Cézanne and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
The afternoon and evening are at leisure to enjoy some of the events and atmosphere of France’s exuberant national holiday, Bastille Day.
This evening, enjoy Mozart’s musical genius opera The Magic Flute. Conducted by Simon Mc Burney, this production stars Stanilas de Barbeyrac as Tamino, Mari Eriksmoen as Pamina and Dimitry Ivashchenko as Sarastro.
The morning and afternoon are at leisure to enjoy the delights of Aix-en-Provence at your own pace. Why not take a Sunday constitutional and then sit down to an elegant brunch in town?
In the evening, attend Sergei Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, considered as one of the composer’s largest and most controversial works. Conducted by Mariusz Trelinski, the dramatic opera features Ausrine Stundyte as Renata and Scott Hendricks as Ruprecht.
After a talk by Christopher on this evening’s performance, journey into the countryside surrounding Aix-en-Provence for a day at the winery Château La Coste. This extraordinary estate combines fine wine, contemporary art and architecture, and verdant gardens in an enchanting Provençal landscape. Enjoy a view over the vineyards from the Tadao Ando Art Centre, and explore the cuverie designed by Jean Nouvel. Taste a range of fine wines, and sample Provençal cuisine over a farewell lunch.
In the evening, attend our final performance at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Richard Strauss’s late Romantic comedy Ariadne auf Naxos. This superb production, staged by Katie Mitchell and conducted by Marc Albrecht, features Eric Cutler as Bacchus and Lise Davidsen as Ariadne and Sabine Devieilhe as Zerbinetta.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
For those returning home today, suggested flights from Nice airport from mid-afternoon onwards on Emirates flights via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
04 May 2018
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 to visit France.
Tour price includes
- Premium (category 1) tickets to all performances in Paris, Lyon and Aix-en-Provence Festival
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Pre-performance talks by your tour leader, Christopher Lawrence
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure.
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contract Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Paris – Marriott Opera Ambassador ****
Lyon – Hotel Carlton (MGallery by Sofitel) ****
Aix-en-Provence – Grand Hôtel Roi René ****
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted