2018 July eNewsletter

July 24, 2018

Welcome to our July Newsletter

Our tour last week in Cork was as exciting as ever. Ballymaloe did us proud, though staying there was for me tinged with sadness as Myrtle Allen, the benign materfamilias, was no longer there to welcome our group as she had died, surrounded by her family, a few weeks ago. Her life’s achievement was to transform not only Irish cooking but the Irish food and restaurant business, a benefit from which all of you who have been to Ireland in the last thirty years will have profited, particularly if you have ever stayed at Ballymaloe. I should think the kitchens in Heaven are undergoing a transformation for the better?!

SNA Exterior for web 1000x500

No point mentioning our garden here in Aynho, given the heat and dryness. We are all quite excited here at CICERONI as several of next year’s tours have been released onto our website in the last few weeks, a process which will continue into early September as we work our way through next year’s schedule. Bookings are already coming in, so look at our website in case a tour you might be interested in books up quickly? Two of the most popular from those already released are Barbados, 27 March – 5 April and Cork, 23 – 28 June, both of which are already more than half full.

As you will know from past e-newsletters, one of the most popular tour types we have introduced in recent years has been those that include operas in the programme. So, I am delighted to be able to give you a preview of what will be offered next year.

Munich Opera House 1000 x 500


The first of these will be The Wittelsbachs: Music and Art in Munich, 20 – 25 March 2019, as we explore the extraordinary story of the Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria and their varied and remarkable patronage of music, architecture and the visual arts. Munich had always been a renowned centre of patronage, especially through the Court Opera. This level of state support continues today and Munich’s State Opera House is one of Europe’s most important; a vibrant artistic and musical milieu.

Nina Stemme 1000 x 500

Participants will be able to book tickets for up to three operas including Puccini’s La fanciula del West with Anje Kempe as Minnie, Donizetti’s lyric tragedy Roberto Devereux with Edita Gruberova as Elisabetta and a wonderfully cast Wagner’s Parsifal with Michael Nagy as Amfortas, René Pape as Gunemanz, Burkhard Fritz as Parsifal and Nina Stemme as Kundry, conducted by Kirill Petrenko. We have secured excellent seats in the first two categories and as tickets for these performances are likely to be in great demand, early booking is highly recommended.

Wagner 1000 x 600


Life & Love Transformed: Wagner’s Ring Cycle in Leipzig, 30 April – 6 May, 2019 will see us travel to Saxony’s second city. As Vienna is to Austria’s musical history, so Leipzig is to Germany’s – not only was it the long-term home of JS Bach, but Felix Mendelssohn and Robert and Clara Schumann all worked there, and it is where Richard Wagner was born and received some of his early musical training. So, what better place to experience one of the pinnacles of the western musical tradition, Wagner’s mighty ‘Ring Cycle’? The Leipzig Opernhaus will mount their celebrated production of Der Ring de Niebelungen and we are delighted to offer members of our mailing list the opportunity to experience this unique dramatic and musical event.

The production will be conducted by Ulf Shirmer and directed by Rosamund Gilmore. The cast (subject to change) will include Tuomas Pursio and Vladimir Baykov as Wotan, Kathrin Göring as Fricka, Christiane Libor and Katherine Broderick as Brünnhilde, Simon O’Neill as Siegmund and Thomas Mohr and Michael Weinius as Siegfried. Twenty-two tickets for the four operas have been secured in stall seats in Row 8, offering, we believe, the best view of the stage. We anticipate that demand for these tickets will be high, so you are strongly advised to confirm your booking with us as soon as possible. Individual seats will be allocated on a first come basis.

Weimar 1000 x 500

This great musical journey will be supported by a wonderful series of guided visits around Leipzig and Weimar. The patronage of both the Electors and Kings of Saxony and the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar will loom large and we shall have the opportunity to explore many of the major sites and collections in both cities.

The visit will be co-led by Professor Peter Hill. Peter taught at Sheffield University and now devotes his time to lecturing and his distinguished career as a keyboard recitalist – have you heard his recently released CD of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Delphian 34200)? He will lecture each day prior to the operas on the complex world of Wagner’s musical imagination, setting the context for the unfolding drama. When Peter co-led our tour to Dresden earlier this year for their Ring cycle, his lectures were an enormous success. He will be supported by Anna-Sylvia Goldammer, who is our preferred Leipzig guide, indeed one of the best to this part of Saxony.

Parma Opera House 1000 x 500

Looking further into next year, we shall also offer our usual visit to The Verona Opera Festival, 7 – 12 July when the three featured operas will be Verdi’s Aida, Bizet’s Carmen and Verdi’s La traviata. Next year’s tour for the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, 5 – 9 August is now being planned and the three operas will be Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Dvořák’s Rusalka & Handel’s Rinaldo. And in mid October we shall visit Parma for The Parma Verdi Festival, led jointly by Peter Hill and James Hill, though details cannot be confirmed until later this year.

Vienna State Opera House at night 1000 x 600


Finally, we now have confirmation of the operas and concerts which will coincide with our Autumn in Vienna: The Court and the Secession, 28 October – 3 November later this year. These will be Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera on 30 October, either a piano recital with Arcadi Volodos (programme as yet unconfirmed) or a Chamber Concert (Mozart and Brahms) also on 30 October and the great Berlioz masterpiece Les Troyens on 1 November. The visit will be led by Gavin Plumley, a noted expert on Viennese cultural and musical life (often to be heard on BBC Radio 3) and as there are only a few places left on this tour, do get in touch if it is of interest to you.

Lismore Castle 1000 x 600

Returning to Ireland, we are looking into the possibility of including new Irish visits from 2020 onwards, some with a strong musical content. The first will be to The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, usually held over the early June Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, the extraordinary Irish seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. The second will be a welcome return for us to The Wexford Opera Festival in October, which we have not included for many years. So, more anon…

Continuing best wishes from all of us here in Aynho.

Tom Duncan



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