Apr 4 - 7, 2022
4 days
$3,780per person, twin share (land content only). $1020 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
Apr 4 - 7, 2022

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


For many music lovers Giuseppe Verdi epitomises Italian Opera, which is hardly surprising considering that for half a century he completely dominated the Italian opera scene with his stirring dramas and thrilling music.

Discover more about this fascinating and deeply private man, while gaining insights into his complex and ever-evolving musical imagination, during this 4-day musical retreat in the Hunter Valley, led by one of Australia’s most experienced music educators.

Exclusive use of a luxurious boutique hotel, The Convent (above), has been arranged for the tour, which also includes a visit to the fine Maitland Regional Art Gallery and gourmet dining at two of Pokolbin’s most stylish and highly regarded restaurants.

COVID-19? Book with confidence
If Government imposed COVID-19 restrictions mean that we cannot run a tour, or that you cannot travel to join a tour, then you will be given a 100% refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for your tour.

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.


A masterclass in Music History

Popular music educator Robert Gay shares his wealth of knowledge, in person, with this seven-part course on Verdi’s life and music. Works discussed will include all the best-loved Verdi operas, plus Luisa Miller, Attila, Sicilian Vespers, Don Carlos, Falstaff, and the great Requiem.

Luxurious Hotel

Our group will have exclusive use of the luxurious boutique hotel The Convent, which is situated on an extensive estate in the Pokolbin wine district. This 19-suite hotel offers lovely views of the estate and ‘farm to fork’ dining from its many organic gardens.

Fine Dining

Enjoy two outstanding meals at two highly regarded Hunter Valley establishments: a lunch at Restaurant Cuvée overlooking the vineyards, and a superb dinner at award-winning Muse.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery

This fine regional gallery hosts over 20 exhibitions and showcases thousands of artworks annually. The award-winning building is as much a part of the experience as the artworks themselves.


Please note that this tour has a maximum capacity of 28 people.

Start & Finish

Meet your fellow tour participants on Monday 4 April at Sydney’s Central Station at 10.15 am for a transfer to the Hunter Valley.
Depart the Hunter Valley by coach on Thursday 7 April, returning to Sydney Central at approximately 4.00 pm.


Monday 4 April – Setting off

This morning, we meet at Sydney’s Central Station at 10.15am for our coach departure soon afterwards to the Hunter Valley. After a short stop for lunch at Wollombi, we arrive at our hotel and check in. At 4.00pm, join your fellow participants for a welcoming afternoon tea, followed by Robert’s first talk. This evening, dinner is served in the hotel.  (L, D)

Tuesday 5 April – Pokolbin

After breakfast, we meet for Part 2 of the course, followed by lunch at the nearby gourmet Restaurant Cuvée. Part 3 continues back at the hotel, where, after a light dinner, you will be entertained with images of the Terra Verdiana in the Parma region of the Po Valley, the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti in Milan, and the people central to Verdi’s life, most importantly his second wife Giuseppina Strepponi.  (B, L, D)

Wednesday 6 April – Maitland & Morpeth

This morning we meet for Part 5 of the course. In the early afternoon, we drive to Maitland where we will be guided through one of the current special exhibitions in the Maitland Regional Art Gallery. After strolling along the picturesque main street of nearby Morpeth, we return to the hotel for Part 6 of the course. This evening, we drive to Muse for a memorable farewell dinner.  (B, D)

Thursday 7 April – Heading home

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and leave your bags at Reception. Following this, the course will conclude with Robert’s final talk. We depart at 12.30pm, stopping for lunch at Wollombi. We should be back at Central by about 4.00pm.  (B, L)

Robert Gay

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!”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Our group will have exclusive use of the luxury boutique hotel, The Convent.  Situated on an expansive estate in the Polkobin wine region, the 19-suite hotel offers gorgeous views and “farm to fork” dining from its many organic gardens.

The Convent Hunter Valley


Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

All tours

  • All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
  • All breakfasts
  • Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
  • Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

On international tours only

  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway

What is not included in the tour price?

Our tours do not include the following:

  • Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
  • Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
  • Airport Transfers on international tours
  • Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. 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

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, 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.

Travel Insurance

We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.

  • For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
  • Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
  • For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade One

A Grade 1 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.
More Details


A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed below if you wish to make a booking.

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More information?

The consultant for this tour is Hannah Kleboe. For further information or to have the consultant call you, please email.
Email Hannah Kleboe

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