Journey from Bilbao to Barcelona with opera aficionado Mairi Nicolson to uncover the best of opera, art and cuisine that Spain has to offer.
In Bilbao, enjoy among the best seats in the house for Puccini’s La Bohème and attend a specially curated private opera recital. Visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum and marvel at its impressive architecture and extensive collection of contemporary art.
Then, in Madrid attend opera and zarzuela performances and enjoy visits to some of the art museums and galleries for which Madrid is renowned.
Finally, in Barcelona attend opera performances including Beethoven’s Fidelio performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, Handel’s Tolomeo by the Kammerorchester Basel and Il Giardino Armonico, and Rossini’s La Cenerentola.
Arrive in Bilbao on suggested flights and make your own 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), private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
At 16:00, attend a welcome briefing by your tour leader Mairi Nicolson, followed by a special welcome dinner.
Then, walk to the Palacio Euskalduna for a performance by the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa.
This morning, visit Bilbao’s celebrated Guggenheim Museum, designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry. Rising from the banks of the Nervión behind stunning sails of titanium, the museum has emphatically put the city on Europe’s cultural map. The museum has an impressive contemporary sculpture collection and is host to significant contemporary art exhibitions.
Then, enjoy a tour focusing on the food and culinary heritage of the Basque Country including pintxos – culinary bites which range from simple bread and topping combinations to miniature haute cuisine creations.
This evening, attend a performance of Puccini’s La Bohème directed by Italian baritone Leo Nucci with soprano Miren Urbieta-Vega in the role of Mimi, soprano Marina Monzó as Musetta and baritone Manel Esteve as Marcello.
This morning, visit the city’s Museo de Bellas Artes, which has a fine collection of old masters paintings, Spanish impressionists, and modern and contemporary Basque art.
The afternoon is at leisure to continue your exploration of Bilbao at your own pace.
Tonight, attend a private opera recital exclusively crafted for our group, featuring a program with a distinct Spanish theme, followed by dinner.
Depart Bilbao and travel to Madrid via Spain’s prestigious Ribera del Duero wine region. Known locally as “Tinto Fino”, the Ribera del Duero Tempranillo is considered the purest expression of Spain’s most well-known grape.
In the late afternoon, arrive in Madrid and spend the evening at leisure.
Following a morning talk by Mairi, visit the lesser known yet excellent Cerralbo Museum, located in a seventeenth-century mansion decorated with Neo-Baroque and Rococo elements. The collection comprises of over 50,000 objects owned by the Marquis of Cerralbo, including paintings, sculptures, antiques, weapons, tapestry and archaeological objects.
This evening, revel in a performance of La Verbena de la Paloma at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid’s home of zarzuela, an indigenous Spanish form of opera and dance. This zarzuela includes a libretto written by Ricardo De la Vega and music by Tomás Bretón.
In the morning, visit the newly-opened Royal Collections Gallery, one of the most important museum projects in Spain in recent decades. Built in a new wing of the Royal Palace complex, this remarkable museum features an extensive collection of paintings, tapestries, sculptures, decorative art pieces, armoury and sumptuous royal furniture collected by Spanish monarchs over five centuries.
Tonight, enjoy a performance of Wagner’s majestic comedy-drama Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Teatro Real. Under the baton of Pablo Heras-Casado and co-produced with the Royal Danish Opera of Copenhagen, the cast includes baritone Gerald Finley as Hans Sachs and bass Jongmin Park as Veit Pogner.
Today, enjoy some time at leisure to explore Madrid at your own pace.
This evening, return to the Teatro Real for a unique recital featuring acclaimed Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, performing works by Wagner, including Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, Das Liebesmahl der Apostel and the final scene of Götterdämmerung.
This morning, check out of the hotel and travel by high-speed train to Barcelona (train included in tour price).
Tonight, enjoy a semi-staged performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Beethoven’s only opera, this groundbreaking production is performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of internationally-renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel. American bass-baritone sings the role of Don Fernando and compatriot Tamara Wilson sings the role of Leonore.
Following a morning talk, visit the emblematic Palau de la Musica. Discover this resplendent UNESCO World Heritage-listed opera hall with its rich architecture and décor. From the elegant foyer and the main staircase, discover the Lluís Millet Hall, an intermission hall dedicated to nature, and the majestic Concert Hall with its emblematic colourful glass skylight.
In the evening, return to the Gran Teatre del Liceu for a performance of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti and produced by Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, tenor Javier Camarena plays the role of Don Ramiro, bass-baritone Carlos Chausson as Don Magnifico and mezzo-soprano Gaelle Arquez as Angelina.
This morning, visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, located in the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc Hill. Discover the outstanding Romanesque and Gothic art collections, as well as Catalan art from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Tonight, revel in a special production of Handel’s Tolomeo performed by the Kammerorchester Basel and Il Giardino Armonico at the iconic Palau de la Musica. Conducted by Giovanni Antonini, the cast stars famous Argentine countertenor Franco Fagioli.
Today, enjoy a day trip to the stately inland city of Girona, considered the centre of Catalan culture. The fortified city was built and re-built by the Iberians, the Romans and the Catalans. Discover the fascinating historic structures in the old town, including the imposing cathedral.
Visit the impressive and well-maintained Jewish Quarter – Girona’s Jewish population was the second largest in Catalonia, after Barcelona – and see the city’s Banys Arabs (Arab Baths).
Following a morning talk, enjoy some time at leisure to explore Barcelona at your own pace before a special farewell lunch with Mairi and fellow travellers.
Tonight, attend a new performance of Verdi’s Messa di Requiem. With the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ludovic Morlot, this production features Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka, Israeli mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham, Italian tenor Francesco Pio Galasso and Ukrainian bass Dmitry Belosselskiy.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
For those returning home today, make your way to Barcelona 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 a private airport transfer, 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)
Final payment due
19 March 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including drinks with meals
- Category 1 (or best available) tickets for all included performances
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Mairi Nicolson
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person) in certain hotels
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, minibar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Bilbao – Melia Bilbao*****
Madrid – Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques*****
Barcelona – The One Barcelona*****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: OA2402
Fitness level: Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airlines: Qatar/Emirates
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 Spain.
Download booking form here.