Opera is an iconic Italian art form, and where better to enjoy it than the place of its birth? This new 15-day tour takes you to eight performances of the great Italians, from Verdi and Rossini to Puccini and Giordano. Performances at historic venues – including La Fenice, La Scala and the Teatro Regio – 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 Venice, Milan, Parma and Turin, this musical journey is rounded out with visits to world-class museums and fine dining.
The world of Italian opera, from the bel canto of Rossini and Bellini to the stirring verismo of Puccini and Giordano
World-famous opera houses: La Fenice in Venice, La Scala in Milan and the Teatro Regio in Turin
The beautiful lakes and art-filled small cities to northern Italy
Fine gastronomic traditions: prosecco, prosciutto and ‘slow food’ in Turin
In-depth performance analysis, expanding your musical knowledge and increasing your enjoyment
Performances Best available tickets to eight outstanding performances are included.
Concert of chamber music at the Chiesa di San Vidal
Verdi’s Otello at Teatro La Fenice
Verdi’s La traviata at Teatro La Fenice
Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Ottavio Dantone and starring Marianne Crebassa
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Riccardo Chailly and starring Marcelo Alvarez
Giordano’s Andrea Chénier at Teatro Regio di Parma
Handel’s Serse at the Teatro Comunale di Modena
Bellini’s La sonnambula at the Teatro Regio
Days 1–4: In Venice, attend operas at La Fenice, explore Venice’s historic architecture and marvel at Titian and the Bellini in the Accademia.
Days 5–8: Travel to Milan via Donizetti’s Bergamo, an elegant hillside town. Attend operas at La Scala, admire masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, Veronese and Caravaggio at the Brera, enjoy lunch at Lake Como’s stunning Villa d’Este.
Days 9–11: In Parma, investigate Verdi’s early years and visit his Villa Sant’Agata. Explore Renaissance Parma and medieval Modena, two of Emilia-Romagna’s refined centres.
Days 12–15: In Turin, attend an opera at Teatro Regio and marvel at the Egyptian Museum.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates offers flights into Rome and out of Milan from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L, D and C for canapés.
Thursday March 28: Arrive Venice
If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel we will organise a water taxi transfer from Venice Airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening, meet Robert Gay in the hotel for welcome drinks and canapes. Overnight Venice (C)
Friday March 29: Wagner in Venice – San Vidal
This morning we take a guided walking tour of the city ending at the Palazzo Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, today the Casino of Venice. Richard Wagner rented the entire piano nobile of the palace in 1882 and died there in February 1883. We visit the small Wagner Museum in the palace before having our welcome lunch at an excellent local restaurant. The later afternoon is at leisure before 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, L)
Performance details Venue: Chiesa di San Vidal Program: Chamber works of the Venetian baroque Performers: Interpreti Veneziani
Saturday March 30: Venetian fine art and opera – Otello
After a talk on this afternoon’s performance, we walk to the Galleria dell’Accademia, the main museum of Venetian painting from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, displaying important works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Tiepolo. This afternoon we attend a matinee performance of Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello at La Fenice. This theatre, which was rebuilt after a malicious fire in 1996, has been at the heart of Italian musical life since it originally opened in 1792, and has seen many notable premieres and legendary performances in its time. Overnight Venice (B)
Performance details Venue: Teatro La Fenice Program: Verdi’s Otello Performers: Marco Berti (Otello), Carmela Remigio (Desdemona), Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)
Sunday March 31: Peggy Guggenheim Collection – La traviata
After a talk on this afternoon’s performance, we take a vaporetto across the Grand Canal to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, located in one of the heiress’s residences, the 18th-century Palazzo Venier. The collection includes outstanding works by Dalí, Kandinsky, Pollock, Magritte, Mondrian and Picasso. This afternoon we attend a matinee performance of La traviata at La Fenice, where it was first performed on 6 March 1853. Overnight Venice (B)
Performance details Venue: Teatro La Fenice Program: Verdi’s La traviata in a production by Robert Carson Performers: Francesca Dotto (Violetta), Ivan Ayon Rivas (Alfredo), Francesco Lanzillotta (conductor)
Monday April 1: Donizetti’s Bergamo
Today we depart for Milan, visiting en route the beautiful city of Bergamo, birthplace of Gaetano Donizetti. It is a delightful place, which boasts an historic fortified Upper Town full of medieval and Renaissance buildings and squares. We visit the Donizetti Museum, as well as the church where he is buried, and the small but magnificent Colleoni Chapel. We arrive in Milan in the late afternoon and gather for dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Milan (B, D)
Tuesday April 2: Teatro alla scala – La Cenerentola
Milan has been a major cultural centre since the Renaissance, but it was in the 19th century that its opera house became the most famous in the world, with many important premieres taking place there. After our morning talk on this evening’s performance, we take a walking tour of Milan, visiting Teatro alla Scala and its fine museum, to admire the fascinating collection of paintings of famous singers, posters, costumes, and design sketches.This evening we attend our first of two performances at La Scala, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, which he composed when he was just 25 years old, following the success of Il barbiere di Siviglia the previous year. Overnight Milan (B)
Performance details Venue: Teatro alla Scala Program: Rossini’s La Cenerentola in a famous historic production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Performers: Marianne Crebassa (Angelina), Maxim Mironov (Don Ramiro), Carlos Chausson (Don Magnifico), Mattia Olivieri (Dandini), Ottavio Dantone (conductor)
Wednesday April 3: Brera Gallery – Manon Lescaut
This morning our talk is on Manon Lescaut, Puccini’s third opera and his first great success. Celebrated Milanese conductor Riccardo Chailly conducts tonight’s performance featuring tenor Marcelo Álvarez. After the talk we visit the Brera gallery, a world-class collection of northern Italian art including works by Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, Raphael, Titian and Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. The later afternoon is at leisure to relax before this evening’s performance. Overnight Milan (B)
Performance details Venue: Teatro alla Scala Program: Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in a new production by David Pountney Performers: Marìa José Siri (Manon), Marcelo Álvarez (Des Grieux), Carlo Lepore (Geronte), Massimo Cavalletti (Lescaut), Riccardo Chailly (conductor)
Thursday April 4: Villa d’Este on Lake Como
Today we have a relaxing day visiting the beautiful shores of Lake Como. The lake was a retreat for composers and writers throughout the 19th century, and Rossini, Liszt and others wrote important works while staying in villas along the lake. We visit the town of Bellagio, 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 an elegant lunch al fresco on the lakefront, before returning to Milan in the late afternoon. Overnight Milan (B, L)
Friday April 5: To Parma – Andrea Chénier
This morning we depart for the elegant city of Parma, in the heart the Emilia-Romagna region. After checking into our hotel, we take a guided tour of the town including the fine Romanesque cathedral and baptistery and the Renaissance-era Teatro Farnese. This evening, we attend a performance of Umberto Giordano’s verismo opera Andrea Chénier at the Teatro Regio di Parma. Overnight Parma (B)
Performance details Venue: Teatro Regio di Parma Program: Giordano’s Andrea Chénier Performers: Martin Muehle (Chénier), Claudio Sgura (Gérard), Teresa Romano (Maddalena di Coigny), Giovanni di Stefano (conductor)
Saturday April 6: Le Terre di Verdi
In the late morning we set off on our exploration of the three major sites associated with Verdi, beginning with his birthplace at Le Roncole. In nearby Busseto, we visit the house of his patron and father-in-law Antonio Barezzi, and the tiny Teatro Verdi which was built in his honour – and against his express wish – in 1868. In the afternoon we continue on to his farmhouse at Sant’ Agata where we see some of the rooms which have been preserved as a museum. We return to Parma in the late afternoon. Overnight Parma (B)
Sunday April 7: Modena – Serse
This morning is at leisure in Parma. In the early afternoon we travel by coach to Modena, a medieval city little visited by tourists, with a stunning Romanesque cathedral. Modena is the hometown of the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti and legendary carmaker Enzo Ferrari. The area is also known for its gastronomic traditions, particularly balsamic vinegar and cheese production. We remain in Modena for a pre-performance dinner and this evening’s opera, Handel’s Serse, a splendid comic work featuring the famous aria which is addressed to a plane tree, ‘Ombra mai fu’. After the performance we return to Parma by coach. Overnight Parma (B, D)
Performance details Venue: Teatro Comunale di Modena Program: Handel’s Serse Performers: To be announced
Monday April 8: Turin
Today we take a leisurely drive across the Po Valley to Turin, the capital of Piedmont. We visit the historic town of Castel’Arquato before dining at Da Faccini, a simple country restaurant serving excellent food and wine from the Emilia-Romagna region. We arrive in Turin in the late afternoon. Overnight Turin (B, L)
Tuesday April 9: Savoy and Royal Collections
Turin has much to offer, including a world-class Egyptian museum and art gallery, and a fine modern opera house replacing the historic Teatro Regio which was destroyed in the Second World War. It was at the Regio that Puccini had his first big successes with the premieres of Manon Lescaut and La bohème in 1893 and 1896 respectively. This morning we have a guided walking tour of the city centre to gain an overall sense of Turin’s architecture and history. 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)
Wednesday April 10: Egyptian Museum – La sonnambula
After a talk on this evening’s opera, we head to Turin’s acclaimed Egyptian Museum housing more than 30,000 artefacts. Afterwards we have our farewell lunch at a fine local restaurant, then the later afternoon is at leisure before tonight’s performance. Overnight Turin (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Teatro Regio di Torino Program: Bellini’s La sonnambula Performers: Ekaterina Sadovnikova (Amina), Antonino Siragusa (Elvino), Nicola Ulivieri (Count Rodolfo), Maurizio Benini (conductor)
Thursday April 11: Departure
At 9.30am there is a transfer to Milan’s Malpensa airport, where the tour ends. (B)
Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.
Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.
After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.
In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.
“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”
“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.