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At A Glance:
  • Upcoming Departures:
    August 6 - 13, 2017

    Tour begins:
    Viareggio, Italy

    Tour concludes:
    Verona, Italy

    Price:
    $4,495/person (DO)
    $4,990/person (SO)

    Can Combine With:
    Anglo-Saxon Britain
    and
    Shakespeare's Italy
    or
    Alternative Theatres

     


  • Verona viewArena di Verona at night

    Opera! Surely one of mankind’s greatest and most sublime creations!  What other art form can combine the worlds of drama, theater, classical song, dance, music, art, lighting and costume in one powerful and emotional arena? What other art form can offer a roller coaster of an evening with a symphony orchestra, full mixed chorus and star vocal soloists, and can transport us in an instant – live in front of our very eyes – from huge scenes of epic proportion to the most intimate of human moments?  No wonder then that this unique creation has found such cross-cultural acceptance that there are few major cities that today do not boast an opera house.  Opera’s themes, so full of relevance and appeal, permeate all levels of society and are sourced for events as diverse as football competitions and television advertisements alike.  Opera’s innate gravitas is frequently invoked for occasions where a powerful union of music and words is required to pack an immediate, powerful, and recognizable punch.

    But as any opera lover knows, cultivating a learned appreciation for the multi-layered richness that opera affords is surely a lifelong endeavor. And each new performance presents yet another opportunity to discover more of the fine subtleties and unique textures that good productions so often reveal. This sojourn presents an outstanding opportunity to do exactly that in the very land where opera originated.  Traveling under the expert guidance of Maestro David Drummond – himself an internationally respected opera conductor and teacher – we attend performances of some of the most celebrated operas of all time while we ponder just how the diverse artistic components of opera are fused into a single organic unity capable of inspiring an emotional response in us all.

    Our sojourn takes us to three of Italy’s most elegant locations where opera is celebrated each summer.  We begin in Torre del Lago Puccini. Set on the beautiful Ligurian coast, just a short distance north of Pisa, the famed Puccini Opera Festival boasts its own spectacular lakeside arena built specifically for this annual event. Here we explore the works of the distinguished composer whose very name has become synonymous with great opera.  Puccini was not only responsible for the verismo style but also for such all-time popular hits as Nessun dorma, Vissi d’arte, and E lucevan le stelle.  Our sojourn gets off to a resounding start since the latter two arias both feature in Tosca, a performance of which provides our opening night’s entertainment and becomes the highlight of our time here.

    From Torre del Lago we journey directly across the Italian peninsula to Pesaro for highly coveted seats at the Rossini Opera festival.  Here on the Adriatic coast, in this charming seaside resort where Pavarotti once made his home, we immerse ourselves in the festival organized each August in honor of town’s most famous son.  Here as well we explore the life and works of this most prolific of Italian composers, visiting his birthplace, his home, and the elegant Teatro Rossini – a century-old opera house named in the his honor. It is fortuitous that our sojourn coincides with a performance of Demetrio e Polibio, Rossini’s first opera. This rarely-heard work is charming, entertaining, and perfect for introducing us to the bel canto style that became such a feature of 19th Century Italian Opera.

    Leaving Pesaro to head north, our sojourn reaches a crescendo as we arrive in the ancient city of Verona – the mecca of Italian Opera.  Here, tens of thousands of opera lovers convene every summer to attend spectacular productions set against the magical backdrop of the mid-summer night’s sky in the city’s two-thousand-year-old Roman amphitheater, the Arena di Verona.  As the climax of our sojourn we enjoy two very special performances, each a blockbuster in its own right. Bizet’s Carmen, one of the most popular operas of all time, provides a chance to savour operatic developments in another part of Europe.  As we sit back and enjoy the swagger of the Toreador Song, the romance of the Habanera and the thrill of the Seguidilla it may seem as if we are transported to Spain if only for a few hours.  No exploration of opera in any country, however, would be complete without an offering from Italy’s greatest composer – Giuseppe Verdi. His celebrated Il Trovatore is the fulfilment of our sojourn. Composed in his most inspirational period, the superb arias and exhilarating choruses, including the famous Anvil Chorus, provide a classic example of first-class opera with which to culminate our exploration.

    Over the course of the week we continually nurture both our operatic taste buds and vocabulary.  Between performances we explore the plots of the works we witness to give us firsthand knowledge of the dramatic structures.  We take time to enhance our listening skills by examining some of the musical forms and learning to recognize the different styles of arias, choruses and ensembles. Utilizing libretti and musical examples from each of our subject operas, our tour leader illuminates for us how to distinguish themes and leitmotifs so that we can easily spot key moments as we listen.  Our seminar evening discussions focus on critiquing each production and reviewing the choices made by directors, conductors, and performers.

    Finally, we also take time to reflect upon how opera quickly progressed from its origins in northern Italy to become a major force across Europe, with theaters fighting for its superstars and society split by operatic gossip and hearsay.  Our endeavor provides first-hand experience of why opera, more than four centuries after its beginnings in Renaissance Italy, continues to captivate audiences around the world.  By the conclusion of our sojourn, we will have not only endorsed our appreciation of why opera is such an enticing, all-embracing art form, invoking passion, excitement, emotion, debate, and controversy and enthralling a global audience, but we will also have surely come a long way towards discovering just exactly how it is all that as well.

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