Christmas in Germany
Celebrate fine opera and music in the historic opera houses and concert halls of Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and Leipzig during the colourful Christmas season.
Begin in Hamburg, where the historic red-brick industrial warehouses contrast with the striking glass façade of the Elbphilharmonie overlooking the harbour.
Then, travel south to Saxony for performances at Dresden’s 19th century Semperoper and Leipzig, home to great composers such as Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Mahler.
In Berlin, attend opera and orchestral performances by world-leading musicians at the Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper and Berlin Philharmonie.
Depart Australia or New Zealand in the evening on suggested Emirates flights to Hamburg via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Arrive in Hamburg in the afternoon on suggested flights and make your own way to the hotel.
This evening join your tour leader, Scott Curry, and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and light supper at the hotel before attending a performance of Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the historic Hamburg State Opera. Renowned director and stage design duo Renaud Doucet and André Barbe adapt the Cinderella tale, with Annalisa Stroppa playing the role of Angelina and Don Ramiro performed by Xabier Anduaga.
Begin the day with a talk by Scott on the coming days’ performances. Then explore the Hanseatic port city of Hamburg with a visit to the Composers Quarter, where six dedicated museums bring to life the city’s rich musical traditions. From the newly opened exhibition on Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, to Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, this metropolis of music tells a diverse history, from Baroque to the early modern age. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant followed by the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, return to the Hamburg State Opera for a performance of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt. Klaus Florian Vogt, renowned Wagnerian tenor, teeters between madness and reality in the role of Paul, and acclaimed soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin is Marietta.
Begin the day with a visit to the pinnacle of architectural design, the Elbphilharmonie. The superimposed, shimmering glass structure overlooks the River Elbe and features state-of-the-art philharmonic and chamber music halls. Enjoy a private guided tour beginning at the Kaispeicher warehouse through the Plaza and finishing in the Grand Hall.
In the evening, return to the Elbphilharmonie for a performance by the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra conducted by Pinchas Steinberg.
Antonín Dvorák: Carnival Overture, Op. 92
Bedrich Smetana: “Má Vlast” (My Country) – Cycle of Symphonic Poems
Today, travel to Dresden, capital of Saxony, and famed for its 700-year musical history. The River Elbe divides the city into the Altstadt and the Neustadt with restored Baroque architecture stencilling an ornate skyline. Enjoy the festive spirit at the Striezelmarkt, Germany’s oldest Christmas market, with the central square ablaze with lights and the air filled with the scent of cinnamon apples. The Pyramidenfest, a giant advent pyramid from the Ore Mountains, towers over the array of food and handicraft stalls.
In the evening, attend a performance by the Staatskapelle Dresden at the Semperoper conducted by Christian Thielemann.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 1 in C major op. 21
Symphony No. 2 in D major op. 36
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major op. 55 Eroica
Begin the day with a talk by Scott about the performances to be attended over the coming days. Then, visit the Staatliche Kuntsammlungen Dresden housing the historic Green Vault, which boasts one of the world’s largest collections of abundant royal treasures, objects d’art and cabinets of curiosity.
This evening, return to the Semperoper for a performance of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, conducted by Stefano Ranzani and Finnish soprano Tuuli Takala singing the role of Lucia.
This morning visit Lohengrin House in the nearby town of Graupa, where Wagner sketched the opera, Lohengrin, during the summer of 1846. Reconstructed in the style of a 19th century farmhouse, the home’s collection encompasses theatre programs, first editions of Wagner’s books and instruments that were played under Wagner’s direction. Experience the tranquil riverbanks and surrounding nature that Wagner drew inspiration from for Lohengrin’s famous overture.
This evening, enjoy a performance entitled La Dolce Vita by Concerto Melante, musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic playing on historic instruments, in the beautiful Frauenkirche. Rebuilt after the war-time destruction of Dresden, the Church’s characteristic stone-bell dome now stands apart of the city’s skyline as an international symbol of reconciliation.
violin and conductor, Raimar Orlovsky
Concerto Ripieno for strings in G minor RV 156
Concerto for 2 violins in A minor RV 522
Concerto for two violins in A major RV 519
Concerto for four violins in E minor RV 550
Sonata à 5 con concertino
Concerto for four violins in D major
Sonata à 5 con 4 Violini obligati
Concerto for four violins in B flat major
Sonata à quattro for strings No. 2 in F major
Sonata à quattro for strings No. 9 in D minor
Sonata à quattro for strings No. 12 La Follia in G minor
Concerto for four violins in A minor
Depart Dresden and travel to Leipzig, ‘the city of music’. The city’s prestigious musical history tells stories of composers including Bach, Telemann, Mendelssohn, the Schumanns, Wagner, Mahler, Lortzing and Eisler.
The Music Trail that winds across the city maintains a modern-day connection to the legacy the composers, visionaries and musicians have given to the progressive city.
Enjoy a guided tour and private concert at, Schumann House and discover how Robert Schumann, widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic Era, and his wife, Clara, influenced each other artistically. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Tonight, enjoy a performance by the Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons, in celebration of Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg’s 100th anniversary.
Modest Mussorgsky: Dawn on the Moskva River – Prelude to the opera Khovanshchina (adaptation by Dmitri Shostakovich)
Mieczysław Weinberg: Concerto for trumpet and orchestra in B flat major op. 94
Peter Tchaikovsky: 4th Symphony in F minor op. 36
After a morning talk by Scott, set out for a guided tour of the Bach Museum and St Thomas Church. Johann Sebastian Bach worked in the 12th Century Lutheran Thomaskirche as a cantor for over twenty-five years and it is the place where Bach is now entombed. The striking stained glass windows illustrate scenes dedicated to both Bach and Mendelssohn. Meanwhile, the Bach Museum details significant points from the composer’s life, from the organ he played to his characteristic signature so well recognised in his scores.
This evening, attend two performances. First, enjoy an organ recital by Michael Schönheit in the Great Hall of the Gewandhaus, performing musical works by JS Bach, Walther, Sweelinck and Böhm.
Then, return to the Thomaskirche for a concert of Christmas carols performed by the acclaimed St Thomas choir conducted by the Thomaskantor, Gotthold Schwarz.
This morning, visit the former house of Felix Mendelssohn. Unlike his contemporaries, Mendelssohn not only composed but was an esteemed conductor and pianist. Continue to the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts, home to the Museum of Musical Instruments with over 5,000 musical instruments from Europe and around the world.
Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, return to the Opera House for a performance of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West accompanied by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and directed by Ulf Schirmer.
This morning, travel north to the state of Brandenburg, to Germany’s capital, Berlin. As the city prepares for Christmas Eve, embrace the final days of Advent at the city’s renowned Christmas markets.
Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before going to the Berlin Philharmonie for a concert performance of the complete ballet music of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty performed by the prestigious Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.
In the morning, join Scott for a talk followed by the day at leisure. Then, in the evening, embrace a true German-style Christmas Eve as you join Scott and fellow travellers for a special Christmas Eve dinner.
This morning, acknowledge the centenary of the Bauhaus architectural style in Germany with a seminal exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie located in the creative district of Kreuzberg. Although the Bauhaus school existed in Germany for only 14 years, it is considered the 20th century’s most influential school of architecture, design and art. The exhibition brings together over 700 exhibits from international collections to demonstrate the extent of the Bauhaus legacy.
This evening, attend a performance of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with Thomas Blondelle performing the role of Gabriel von Eisenstein and Rachel Willis-Sørensen singing the role of Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde.
In the morning, visit the Charlottenburg Palace and delight in the splendour of the Rococo period. Berlin’s most magnificent palace was home to Sophie Charlotte, the first Queen consort in Prussia. She was a great appreciator of the arts and an accomplished harpsichord and Italian opera singer in her own right. Visit the ornate Porcelain Cabinet in the Old Palace, reopened in 2017 and displaying over 2,700 examples of fine Hohenzollern Porcelain. Then enjoy a special farewell lunch with Scott and fellow travellers.
This evening, attend a performance of Puccini’s La Bohéme at the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden with Eleonora Buratto performing the role of Mimi, Elsa Dreisig as Musetta and Benjamin Bernheim as Rodolfo.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Check out of the hotel and make your way to Berlin Airport for suggested late-morning flights to Australia or New Zealand on Emirates via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
14 October 2019
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels 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 Germany.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located five-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner); wines with meals
- Category 1 tickets for all included performances
- Lectures and talks by your tour leader, Scott Curry
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- 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, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
Hamburg – Renaissance Hamburg Hotel *****
Dresden – Hilton Dresden ****+
Leipzig – Steigenberger GrandHotel Handelshof *****
Berlin – Regent Berlin *****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.