English Country House Opera
Enjoy a leisurely summertime journey through the beautiful English countryside, famous for its gardens, stately homes – and ‘country house opera’.
By day, explore grand country homes, glorious gardens and historic towns across the counties of Oxfordshire and East Sussex. Then, glam it up for elegant evenings of fine opera performances and gourmet dinners.
At Glyndebourne, performances include The Merry Widow, Die Zauberflöte and Giulio Cesare.
At Garsington’s opera festival, attend new productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Un giorno di regno, along with a revival of Le nozze di Figaro.
Round off this English opera experience with Così Fan Tutte and Tosca at London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Arrive in London on suggested flights and make your way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), a private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the late-afternoon, join your tour leader Phillip Sametz and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by dinner.
Following a talk by Phillip on the coming days’ performances, benefit from a private, guided tour of the city’s acclaimed Courtauld Gallery, reopened to the public in 2021 after a three-year transformation. The Gallery is located in the magnificent setting of Somerset House and is home to a wealth of 14th- to 20th-century art, including one of the world’s finest Impressionist and post-Impressionist collections.
In the evening, revel in the wit and glamour of Jan Philipp Gloger’s production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte conducted by Alexander Soddy at the Royal Opera House. Tonight’s cast includes South African soprano Golda Schultz and German tenor Daniel Behle.
In the morning, embark on a private, guided tour of the Royal Courts of Justice, home of the judiciary of England and Wales. The ornate Victorian building consists of over one thousand rooms and a 238-foot-long Great Hall.
Return to the Royal Opera House this evening for a performance of Puccini’s Tosca under the baton of Andrea Battistoni with American soprano Angel Blue in the title role.
Depart London for Kew Gardens, which houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world. After a guided visit, enjoy some time at leisure to further explore the gardens at your own pace. The Great Broad Walk Borders and the Rose Garden are not to be missed in the summer.
Continue to the distinguished academic city of Oxford, base for the next four nights.
Begin the day with a pre-performance talk by Phillip. Then, embark on a private walking tour of Oxford including some of its renowned colleges.
In the mid-afternoon, transfer to Garsington Opera at Wormsley Estate, nestled in the lush, green surroundings of the Chiltern Hills. Stroll around the exquisite grounds and Walled Garden before this evening’s visually striking production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Douglas Boyd.
Enjoy a fine gourmet dinner during interval.
This morning, explore Buscot Park, the family home of Lord Faringdon. Previously owned by Australian tycoon Robert Tertius Campbell in the mid-19th century, the 18th-century house is surrounded by an Italianate water garden, designed by Harold Peto. Discover the impressive interiors and furnishings of the home with a guided tour. Amongst the artworks of the Faringdon Collection is Rossetti’s Pandora, Burne-Jones’s series The Legend of Briar Rose and Rembrandt’s Pieter Six.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before returning to Garsington for the revival of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with rising star conductor Tabita Berglund, praised for her visionary and energetic Mozart interpretations.
After a pre-performance talk by Phillip, enjoy a full day at leisure to further explore Oxford at your own pace. You might want to visit the Ashmolean, Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology founded in 1683 and featuring collections ranging from Egyptian mummies and classical sculpture to the Pre-Raphaelites and modern art.
Later in the afternoon, return to Garsington for a new production of Verdi’s rarely performed Un giorno di regno directed by Christopher Alden with the Philharmonia Orchestra led by Tobias Ringborg.
Depart Oxford and travel south-east 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.
Continue to Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, a beautiful 19th-century mansion set in the heart of Ashdown Forest – home for the next four nights.
Enjoy a morning guided tour of Wakehurst, the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Spanning 500 acres, Wakehurst features ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands and an Elizabethan mansion, and is renowned for the Kew Millennium Seed Bank – the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world.
In the 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 28 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’s performance of The Merry Widow is directed by Cal McCrystal in a lavish new staging of Lehár’s sparkling romantic comedy. It features the acclaimed London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of British conductor John Wilson, Australian-American lyric soprano Danielle de Niese in the role of Hanna Glawari, widely admired baritone Thomas Allen as Baron Mirko Zeta and Soraya Mafi as Valencienne.
Dinner will be served in one of Glyndebourne’s several restaurants during interval.
Start the day with a talk by Phillip. Then, explore the sumptuous 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.
This evening, return to Glyndebourne Festival Opera for a visual and musical feast – Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, featuring the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Constantin Trinks, with renowned American tenor Paul Appleby in the role of Tamino and Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov as Papageno.
During interval, partake in a Glyndebourne tradition – a fully catered picnic on the beautiful lawns.
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.
Lunch is at leisure in the quaint market town of Lewes.
Tonight, return to Glyndebourne Festival Opera for the final performance of the tour – Haendel’s Giulio Cesare. Laurence Cummings conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the performance features American rising star Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen in the title role.
During interval, join Phillip and fellow travellers for a farewell dinner at the estate’s Middle & Over Wallop fine dining restaurant.
After a leisurely breakfast, depart the hotel for Chartwell, beloved home of Sir Winston Churchill from 1922 until his death in 1965. Virtually everything has been kept as it was when he lived here including pictures, books, photos, maps, as well as a half-smoked cigar that the World War II prime minister never finished.
Tour arrangements conclude at approximately 4:00pm upon arrival in central London.
For those returning home today, make your way to the airport for suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Deposit per person AUD 4,500
At time of booking
Second payment per person AUD 5,000
Due: 09 January 2024
Due: 09 April 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wines with meals
- Premium category (or best available) tickets to all included performances
- Lectures and talks by your tour leader, Phillip Sametz
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
London – Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel****
Oxford – The Randolph Hotel*****
East Grinstead (near Glyndebourne) – Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: OA2404
Fitness level: Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Qantas
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 the United Kingdom.
Download booking form here.