Mar 15 - 29, 2020
15 days
$10,630per person, twin share (land content only). $1,800 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Royna McNamara
Mar 15 - 29, 2020

Tour Leader

Royna McNamara$10,630per person, twin share (land content only). $1,800 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Opera is an iconic Italian art form, and where better to enjoy it than the place of its birth? This 15-day tour takes you to eight performances at historic venues – including La Fenice in Venice, La Scala in Milan, Florence’s Maggio Musicale and the Teatro Regio in Turin. The performances are complemented by visits to the places where the composers lived and worked, allowing you to appreciate the history and the personalities behind the music. Staying in Turin, Milan, Parma, Venice and Florence, this musical journey is rounded out with visits to world-class museums and fine dining.


We are delighted by the line-up of performances. Appropriately for this tour, there is a strong focus on works by Italian composers, performances are led by some renowned conductors, and several internationally famous singers appear.


  • Puccini’s La Bohème at the Teatro Regio di Torino, with Bolshoi star Dinara Alieva as Mimi


  • A new production of Richard Strauss’s Salome, conducted by music director Riccardo Chailly
  • Rossini’s Il turco in Italia at La Scala, with acclaimed soprano Rosa Feola


  • Debussy’s ground-breaking Pelléas et Mélisande at the Teatro Regio


  • A concert of Venetian chamber music performed by the Interpreti Veneziani
  • A new production Bizet’s Carmen at La Fenice, with the well-known Spanish director Calixto Bieito making his directorial debut in Venice


  • Francesco Micheli’s new production of Verdi’s ever-popular La Traviata at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale
  • Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production of Handel’s baroque masterpiece Rinaldo

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–3: In Turin, attend an opera at Teatro Regio and marvel at the Egyptian Museum.

Days 4–6: Travel to Milan, attend two operas at La Scala, and enjoy an excursion to Lake Como.

Days 7–8: Explore Parma, one of Emilia- Romagna’s refined centres and attend an opera at Teatro Regio di Parma.

Days 9–11: Travel to Venice via Mantua, attend a concert of chamber music at the Chiesa di San Vidal and an opera at La Fenice.

Days 12–15: Travel to Florence for two operas at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale, Florence’s premier theatre, with time to sample the city’s artistic glories.

Detailed Itinerary

Start & Finish

The tour begins at Milan’s Malpensa airport and ends at either Pisa or Florence airports. Singapore, Emirates and Qatar offer direct flights into Milan and connecting flights out of Florence or Pisa. Contact us for quotes and bookings.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the letters B, L, D and C for canapés.

Sunday March 15: Arrival

Meet your tour leader and other group members at the arrivals hall at Milan’s Malpensa airport at 2.00pm. (If you are booking your own flights, please book a flight that lands no later than 1.00pm). There is a group transfer to our hotel in Turin, or you may choose to travel independently to the Turin hotel. In the early evening we gather for drinks and canapes at the hotel. Overnight Turin. (B, C)

Monday March 16: Explore Turin

Turin is an elegant city, whose beauty and artistic legacy is only now being fully appreciated. Fortunately it remains off the path of mass tourism. This morning our guided tour explores the historic centre of the city, focusing on the late Baroque architecture of court favourites Guarino Guarini and Filippo Juvarra. In the Cathedral of John the Baptist, designed by the latter, is one of Turin’s most famous sights, the Holy Shroud. Among Italians, Turin is well known for its fine food, some of which we sample at our welcome lunch. The afternoon is at leisure but you may choose to visit the excellent royal collection of the Galleria Sabauda, which includes works by Flemish painters Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and van Dyck, alongside Renaissance masters Duccio, Botticelli, Lippi and Fra Angelico. Overnight Turin. (B, L)

Tuesday March 17: Egyptian Museum – La Bohème

After a pre-performance talk this morning we head to Turin’s acclaimed Egyptian Museum. The museum, housing more than 30,000 artefacts, is regarded as second only to the collections in Cairo and London. The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore this wonderful city. Tonight, we attend Teatro Regio, the very theatre where Puccini’s best-known work La Bohème, had its first performance in 1896 (Puccini’s Manon Lescaut also premiered here in 1893). Bolshoi opera soprano Dinara Alieva is sure to give a fine performance as Mimi. Overnight Turin. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro Regio di Torino
Program: La Bohème – Giacomo Puccini
Conductor: Daniel Oren
Performers: Fabio Sartori (Rodolfo), Dinara Alieva (Mimi)

Wednesday March 18: To Milan – Salome

We travel by private coach to Milan, a few hours from Turin. Before arriving at our hotel, we call in at the ‘Casa di Riposo’, Giuseppe Verdi’s retirement home for musicians. After purchasing the land, Verdi entrusted the project to architect Camillo Boito. On writing to his friend Giulio Monteverde, Verdi described it as the finest of his life’s works. A pre-performance talk introduces us to tonight’s thrilling opera, Richard Strauss’s Salome. Based on Oscar Wilde’s retelling of the old-testament story, Strauss sought to break away from the conventions of Italian opera, conveying harrowing psychological depths through his music. La Scala’s highly regarded music director, Riccardo Chailly, conducts the performance. The excellent cast features Swedish dramatic soprano Malin Byström in the title role and fine German baritone Michael Volle as John the Baptist. Overnight Milan. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro alla Scala
Program: Salome – Richard Strauss
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
Performers: Malin Byström (Salome) Michael Volle (John the Baptist), chorus and orchestra of la Scala, Milan

Thursday March 19: La Scala Museum – Il turco in Italia

After a talk on this evening’s performance, we visit the museum of La Scala theatre. This small but delightful museum contains some wonderful memorabilia and takes you through the history of the theatre, where so many important premiers occurred. The rest of the day is free, but you might like to visit one of Milan’s leading galleries, visit a historic home or stroll the fashion district. Italian soprano Rosa Feola leads tonight’s performance of one of Rossini’s most sparkling comedies. Overnight Milan. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro alla Scala
Program: Il turco in Italia – Rossini
Conductor: Diego Fasolis
Performers: Alex Esposito (Selim), Rosa Feola (Donna Fiorilla)

Friday March 20: Villa d’este on Lake Como

The lake with its light and reflections has fascinated and inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries. Franz Liszt came to Lake Como in September 1837 and, in a letter written in the first month said, ‘I know of no other place that is so manifestly blessed.’ Today we explore the lake by private launch, passing by several composers’ residences, then travel by launch to the Renaissance-era Villa d’Este, one of Europe’s grandest hotels for more than a century. Here we enjoy lunch al fresco on the lakefront. Overnight Milan. (B, L)

Saturday March 21: Le Terre di Verdi

We depart Milan for the elegant city of Parma, in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region. Most of the day is spent around Busseto, where composer Giuseppe Verdi was born and raised, and where he returned after achieving international fame. Emilia is famous for its food, and we sample this in a spectacular way with lunch at Antica Corte, a fortified castle since the early 14th century which houses a Michelin-starred restaurant. Overnight Parma. (B, L)

Sunday March 22: Explore Parma – Pelléas et Mélisande

The Farnese family of Parma established one of the great Renaissance courts of Europe, leaving a legacy of art, architecture and theatre. This morning a local guide shows us some of this heritage on a walking tour of the city centre. There is free time before a pre-performance talk. This evening we attend a performance at the Teatro Regio di Parma, built in 1829, and rich in gold and stucco work. The theatre is well known for its annual Verdi festival. Tonight’s performance of Pelléas et Mélisande will expose us to French musical modernism and is a nice counterpoint to the Salome we heard in Milan. Overnight Parma. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro Regio di Parma
Program: Pelléas et Mélisande – Claude Debussy
Conductor: Marco Angius
Performers: Monica Bacelli (Mélisande), Phillip Addis (Pelléas)

Monday March 23: Mantua and Venice

We depart Parma, bound for Venice. The middle part of the day is spent in Mantua, another of northern Italy’s important Renaissance cities. Claudio Monteverdi, Italy’s greatest Renaissance composer and arguably the founder of modern opera, spent the early part of his career working for the dukes of Mantua, and his La favola D’Orfeo was written in Mantua in 1607. Here a guide shows us the Ducal palace (the seductive Duke of Mantua is the villain of Verdi’s Rigoletto), with masterpieces by Mantegna and other artists as well as other important sites. We continue to Venice and transfer by water taxi to our hotel. Dinner is at a simple local restaurant. Overnight Venice. (B, D)

Tuesday March 24: Wagner in Venice – Baroque chamber

After a talk on music in Venice, this morning we take a guided walking tour of the city ending at the Palazzo Ca’ Vendramin Calergi. Richard Wagner rented the entire piano nobile of the palace in 1882 and died there in February 1883. We continue to the Frari church across the Rialto, with magnificent paintings by Titian and the tomb of Monteverdi. This evening we attend a concert of chamber music at the Chiesa di San Vidal, sampling music written at the dawn of the golden age of Italian opera. Overnight Venice. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Chiesa di San Vidal
Program: Baroque chamber, including works by Vivaldi
Performers: Interpreti Veneziani

Wednesday March 25: Masterpieces of Venetian Art – Carmen

Today, we sample some of Venice’s immense artistic heritage, visiting three sites that remain off the mainstream tourist path: Bellini’s superb altarpiece of 1505 in the church of San Zaccaria, Carpaccio’s paintings of St George and other saints at the confraternity house of the Croatians, and the Renaissance architectural jewel of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. The afternoon is free, before a pre-performance talk in our hotel. Tonight’s opera, Carmen, is one of the best-known in the repertoire, however it is certain to be given a revitalising interpretation by Spanish director Calixto Beito. Beito is an opera director of the highest calibre, and in 2020 his new production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle premiers in Paris. La Fenice’s music director Myung-Whun Chung conducts. Overnight Venice. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro La Fenice
Program: Carmen – Bizet
Performers: Marina Comparato (Carmen), Azer Zada (Don Josè), Luca Micheletti (Escamillo), Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Thursday March 26: Bologna, to Florence

We depart Venice by private coach and travel south, towards Tuscany in central Italy. We arrive in the late morning in Bologna, where there will be time to explore the attractive centre of this university city. We will visit the cathedral and adjacent market square. If possible, we will also make a brief stop at the Teatro Comunale, Bologna’s well-regarded theatre. We continue to Florence, our final stop on the tour. Overnight Florence. (B)

Friday March 27: Strolling Florence – La Traviata

One of the most appealing features of Florence is its compact size. Visitors can take in an extraordinary range of historic and artistic sites by strolling the city, and this is exactly what we do this morning with Sydney-born Florence resident Freya Middleton, today one of the city’s best local guides. The afternoon is free before a pre-performance talk. This evening’s performance takes place in the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. This striking contemporary theatre was opened in 2011 and is the hub of one of Italy’s oldest music festivals, the Maggio Musicale, held from April to June each year. The revival of the 2018 production of Verdi’s key mid-career work, La Traviata, is directed by Francesco Micheli, and emphasises the historical context of the work’s composition – right around the time of Italian reunification. Overnight Florence. (B)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro del Maggio Musical Fiorentino
Program: La Traviata – Verdi
Performers: To be announced, November 2019

Saturday March 28: The Uffizi – Rinaldo

The world-famous Uffizi Galleries began as a private collection, created by the Medici family when they were Florence’s leading private citizens, and then later the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The museum, located in the former administrative buildings (‘uffizi’) of the Florentine Republic, contain countless iconic masterpieces by Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo and others. We explore these on a guided visit this morning. We then share a farewell lunch at one of Florence’s best restaurants. This evening we return to the Teatro del Maggio Musicale for our final performance. Fittingly, it is Handel’s baroque opera Rinaldo. Although written by a German composer for a London audience, the Italian libretto is based on episodes from Torquato Tasso’s wildly popular epic poem Jerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem delivered), the inspiration for numerous works of art. Overnight Florence. (B, L)

Performance details
Venue: Teatro del Maggio Musical Fiorentino
Program: Rinaldo – Handel
Performers: To be announced, November 2019

Sunday March 29: Departure

After breakfast there are group transfers to either Pisa international airport or Florence airport. Alternatively, you may make independent arrangements for your onward travel from Florence. (B)

Royna McNamara

A musician, educator and conductor, with degrees from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Sydney.

Royna has organised numerous music tours to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. She has a strong personal interest in art and photography and has studied the link between travel and its impact on creativity. Royna holds a B Mus Ed from the Conservatorium of Music, where she was awarded the prize for Outstanding Final Year Student. She also holds a Masters of Education from the University of Sydney, where she was awarded a scholarship to study Music Performance Practices.

Royna also completed a conducting course with Jerry Nowak, where she expanded her repertoire by conducting school and semi-professional ensembles. She has conducted numerous concerti with some of Sydney’s leading musicians, including Clemens Leske, Joshua Tsai and Simon Tedeschi. Royna has also conducted choral and instrumental ensembles in prestigious venues such as Notre Dame in Paris, the basilica of St Mark’s in Venice, Canterbury Cathedral, Lambeth Palace and the Sydney Opera House.

For twenty years, Royna was Director of Music at Abbotsleigh and continues to use her expertise in Music Education for the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the NSW Association of Independent Schools, where she is currently the Convenor for Music Professional Learning. She has also worked as a session lecturer in Music at UNSW and the University of Sydney.

We asked Royna, what motivates you as a tour leader?

“Travel opens the mind, fosters creativity and develops cultural understanding. I find it extremely rewarding to ignite a curiosity and love of travel in others.”

“I am always open for new experiences. I believe the arts can communicate when words sometimes fail. I hope that my fellow travellers return home with fresh perspectives, greater knowledge, and a lifelong desire to keep travelling.”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Hotels have been selected principally for their central location and close walking distance to the performance venues. All hotels are excellent four-star properties that are renovated palazzi.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity

Booking conditions

You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 60 days before departure: $500*
  • 60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
  • 44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due

*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.

Unused Portions of the tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Travel Insurance

Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.

Passport and Visa

A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.

Will the tour price change?

If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.

Will the itinerary change?

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

Final Payment

Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.

Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
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Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Jamal Fairbrother 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

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