Celebrate Sydney’s festive season with Academy Travel’s four-night program designed for lovers of the performing and visual arts. Our itinerary is based around four outstanding performances: The Boomkak Panto, a delightful, big-hearted comedy by Virginia Gay; Pinchgut Opera’s new production of Platée, one of Rameau’s finest works; a performance in-the-round of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by the Sydney Theatre Company; and the smash hit musical Hamilton. We have reserved excellent seats for all events.
Around the performances we have woven a program of gallery visits, including the exciting new Matisse exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, as well as several other experiences designed to show off some of Sydney’s hidden treasures. Fine dining experiences at Crafted by Matt Moran at the AGNSW, Ripples at Chowder Bay and Bistro Gavroche in Chippendale have also been included. Accommodation is in the luxurious Fullerton Hotel, located in the historic former GPO building on Martin Place.
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Vaccination requirements Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.
The Boomkak Panto
Belvoir presents the premiere production of Virginia Gay’s The Boomkak Panto, which she wrote and also stars in. This delightful big-hearted comedy is set in the dusty little country town of Boomkak, which happens to be confronting some very big challenges and a fight for its very survival. Virginia describes her new show as ‘a love letter to theatre’. Includes new songs by the award-winning Eddie Perfect.
The Sydney Theatre Company presents an exciting new ‘in the round’ production, by artistic director Kip Williams, of Shakespeare’s complex study of power and moral corruption, Julius Caesar.
Rameau’s comic masterpiece Platée is brought to life in a new production by renowned director Neil Armfield for Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera. Starring Kanen Breen as the love-lorn Platée, and Peter Coleman-Wright and Cheryl Barker as Jupiter and Juno, the opera will be conducted by Pinchgut’s artistic director Erin Helyard with the brilliant Orchestra of the Antipodes.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s once-in-a-generation musical is having a sell-out run in Sydney. Hamilton tells the dramatic story of one of the founding fathers of the United States with witty, poetic dialogue and an inventive score.
Day 1: Meet your tour leaders Robert & Penny Gay at The Fullerton Hotel and enjoy a talk in the hotel followed by a performance.
Day 2: After a talk, we visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales for lunch and see the Matisse exhibition. Enjoy an evening performance at the City Recital Hall.
Day 3: A private launch on Sydney Harbour takes us to the Quarantine Station at Manly, followed by lunch at Ripples overlooking Chowder Bay. Tonight, we enjoy a performance of Julius Caesar.
Day 4: After a talk, we tour White Rabbit gallery followed by lunch. Tonight, we enjoy Hamilton at the Lyric Theatre.
The tour begins at 4pm on December 1 at the Fullerton Hotel.
The tour ends after breakfast on December 5 at the Fullerton Hotel
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Independent check-in to the Fullerton Hotel from 2.00pm. At 4.00pm, meet Robert and Penny and your fellow participants for festive drinks and canapés, after which Penny will discuss the pantomime tradition referenced in Virginia’s new play The Boomkak Panto. We transfer by coach to Belvoir Street Theatre for our performance, then back to the hotel afterwards for supper. (Canapés, Supper)
Thursday, 2 December
This morning, Robert introduces you to Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée, a gloriously oddball comedy by the greatest of all French baroque composers. Lunch at Crafted by Matt Moran at the Art Gallery of New South Wales is followed by a visit to the new Matisse exhibition with special guest Dr Nick Gordon. This evening we stroll across Martin Place to the City Recital Hall, the venue for this evening’s performance. (B, L)
Friday, 3 December
This morning we walk down to King St Wharf for a private cruise up Sydney Harbour to the Quarantine Station at North Head. We then head to Clifton Gardens, an exclusive harbourfront neighbourhood, where we enjoy lunch at Ripples, a restaurant in a historic building overlooking the beach. In the early evening, after a short talk by Penny, we transfer to the Wharf Theatre at Walsh Bay for this evening’s performance of Julius Caesar. (B, L)
Saturday, 4 December
This morning after a short heritage tour of our hotel, we hear a talk by US historian Dr Richard Bell on the musical Hamilton. Richard provides both an overview of the production and an expert appraisal of the way the story is told. The talk is transmitted live onto a large screen from Maryland in the USA. We then head to inner-city Chippendale for lunch at Bistro Gavroche, followed by a visit to the remarkable contemporary Chinese art collection at the White Rabbit, a private gallery run by philanthropist Judith Nielsen. This evening a coach takes us to and from the Lyric Theatre in Pyrmont for our performance of Hamilton, after which we gather in the hotel bar for farewell drinks. (B, L)
Sunday, 5 December
The tour ends after breakfast. (B)
One of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators, he has designed and led more than 90 tours.
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!”