The opportunity to see a new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen by one of the world’s great opera companies is always an exciting prospect. November 2020 sees the culmination of years of planning and preparation at the Opera Bastille in Paris, combining the talents of renowned director Calixto Bieito, music director Philippe Jordan, an outstanding cast and the splendid orchestra and chorus of the Opera de Paris. Based in a boutique 4-star hotel not far from the Louvre, the itinerary includes a carefully curated selection of some of Paris’s best smaller galleries and museums.
Guaranteed top category ‘optima’ (premium) tickets to all four performances of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen
Extensive background talks on the Ring by one of Australia’s most experienced music educators
A private guided tour of the Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world
Paris’s small galleries and museums, including the Musee Marmottan Monet, the Picasso Museum and the Musée Rodin
Empress Josephine’s fine Chateau Malmaison, with its historic collector’s garden
Four excellent dinners with accompanying wines, before or during all performances
Days 1–3: Enjoy lunch at ‘Le Train Bleu’ at the Gare de Lyon, explore the outstanding Musée Marmottan Monet and the Picasso Museum. Pre-performance talk and Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
Days 4–5: Survey the collection at the Louvre, pre-performance talk and Wagner’s Die Walküre.
Days 6–7: Depart Paris for an excursion to Josephine’s Malmaison. Take a private guided tour of the Palais Garnier, pre-performance talk and Wagner’s Siegfried.
Days 8–10: Visit the Musée Rodin, pre-performance talk and Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Farewell drinks and canapés.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in Paris. Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways offer the best connections into and out of Paris from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
All breakfasts included. Included lunches, dinners and canapes are indicated by the letters (L), (D) and (C)
Saturday November 28: Arrival
Flights arrive into Paris today. We meet in the early evening for a welcome drink and canapés in the hotel. (C)
Sunday November 29: Musée Marmottan Monet
We begin our Ring Cycle odyssey with an introductory overview (90 minutes) of Wagner’s epic cycle. Then after a Welcome Lunch at the lovely restaurant ‘Le Train Bleu’ at the Gare de Lyon, we drive to the Musée Marmottan Monet with its amazing collection of paintings by Claude Monet and other Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The evening is at leisure. (B, L)
Monday November 30: Performance I – Das Rheingold
After an extended morning talk on this evening’s opera (120 minutes with a break for coffee) there is free time for lunch before we transfer to the Picasso Museum, home to the world’s largest public collection of Picasso’s works, beautifully displayed in the elegant Hôtel Salé. The later afternoon is at leisure before we transfer to the Opera Bastille for tonight’s performance of Das Rheingold beginning at 7:30pm. (B, D)
Tuesday December 1: The Louvre
This morning we walk to the nearby Louvre which contains one of the largest and finest collections of art in the world. The original Renaissance-style chateau built by François I was enlarged to its present size by successive rulers, including the two Napoleons. The collection also dates back to the time of François, whose purchases include the famous Mona Lisa. The visit is self-guided and yours to plan as you wish. (B)
Wednesday December 2: Performance II – Die Walküre
We meet this morning for another extended talk (120 minutes with a break for coffee) on this evening’s music drama. Then the afternoon is at leisure until we transfer to the Opera Bastille for tonight’s performance of Die Walküre beginning at 6:30pm. (B, D)
Thursday December 3: Malmaison
This morning we take an excursion to Malmaison, the modest 17th-century chateau where Napoleon and Josephine lived in relative seclusion on the edge of the city. The afternoon and evening are at leisure back in Paris. (B)
Friday December 4: Performance III – Siegfried
Our extended morning talk today is followed by free time for lunch and then a private guided tour of the nearby Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Begun in 1861 but not opened till 1875, it became known as the Palais Garnier in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. Adorned with gold leaf, coloured marble, paintings, and sculpture from the top artists of the day, the opera house was intended to make a statement about Napoléon III’s Second Empire, but the Empire had collapsed suddenly well before the new Opéra opened. Inside, note also the superb modern ceiling of the auditorium painted by Marc Chagall and unveiled in 1964. It celebrates the twin arts of opera and ballet. The rest of the afternoon is free until our transfer to the Opera Bastille for this evening’s performance of Siegfried beginning at 6.00pm. (B, D)
Saturday December 5: Musée Rodin
This morning, an extended morning talk (120 minutes including break for coffee) will be followed by free time for lunch and then a visit to the Musée Rodin which underwent a major renovation some years back. This included both the building and the grounds, and the Rodin sculptures themselves were also restored and re-presented. Highlights of the permanent collection include some of Rodin’s most treasured works: The Kiss, The Thinker, Fugit Amor and Thought, and a series of sculptures portraying celebrated French writer Honoré de Balzac. The later afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Sunday December 6: Performance IV – Götterdämmerung
After a morning at leisure, we transfer to the Opera Bastille for our 2.00pm performance of the final music drama in the cycle, Götterdämmerung. This evening, after the performance, we gather for farewell drinks and canapés in our hotel. (B, D, C)
Monday December 7: Departure
Our sojourn in Paris ends today after breakfast. Airport transfers are included for those travellers who booked their flights through Academy Travel. (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!”
The Meliá Vendôme is a boutique 4-star hotel located in the centre of Paris, near Saint-Honoré. The hotel is just a few steps away from the Place de la Concorde, and within walking distance of the Louvre, Champs-Élysées and the Musée d’Orsay. The Concorde and Madeleine metro stations are also only a short walk from the hotel. Rooms are elegant, functional and comfortable, with air conditioning and free WIFI.
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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