(Dates will be confirmed once the festival have published their programme for 2021)
After our last highly successful trip we are once again attending the Parma Verdi Festival. There will be the opportunity to see three operas and one concert, programme details will be available in 2021.
Parma does not rely on tourism for its wealth, which accounts for the lively Italian bustle on the beautiful streets and for the excellent food found in the trattorie. It is pristinely kept and a true pleasure to explore. The city is bursting with art and we will concentrate on the local artists such as Correggio and Parmigianino. We will also spend one day in Modena and visit the Rocca Sanvitale in the countryside. We have a backstage tour of the Teatro Reggio and will see the Cheese Masters at work in a Parmesan dairy. For those who have travelled to Parma with us before we will be on hand to suggest an alternative itinerary.
The trip will be a mix of monumental architecture, exceptional trompe l’oeil, delicious food and of course, music.
We will land at Bologna Airport late morning and take our coach to Parma. We should arrive in time to check in to the hotel and head out for a light lunch. In the afternoon we will have an introduction to the history of Parma and visit the Duomo to study the frescoes of Correggio, one of the most famous painters of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance. The dome is filled with a swirling throng of angels accompanying the Virgin to the Heavens. We will then see the wonderful medieval baptistery, entirely clad in Verona marble and decorated with 13th and 14th century frescoes. The interior is like a stepping into a jewelled reliquary.
Opera in the evening
For those who wish we will set of early to visit a Parmigiano cheese dairy on the outskirt of town to discover the secrets behind this invaluable cheese. We will see the cheese masters at work and learn the ancient traditions of processing the milk. There will also be a chance to taste and buy the parmesan.
We will then return to Parma to visit the Convent of San Paolo, here Correggio painted the refectory ceiling of the Abbess to represent a delightful pergola pierced with oculi through which cherubs and hunting dogs look down upon the observer. Diana, goddess of hunting, rides her chariot across the fireplace. The Abbess was an intriguing character and her convent was rumored to rather lax.
After lunch we will walk to the National Art Gallery of Parma to search out the city’s other famous son, Parmigianino. The gallery is also home to other great masters including Sebastiano del Piombo, Guercino and Leonardo. Not only does the gallery boast an excellent collection but it is also a feat of museum design. One last surprise of the day is the majestic wooden Farnese Theatre.
Opera in the evening
In the morning you may either have a lie-in or come with us for a visit to the house of Arturo Toscanini. We will then have an exciting private tour of the Teatro Regio di Parma, this will include a visit to the costume department, set design and backstage.
After lunch we will drive to the countryside to Fontanellato and visit the magnificent castle surrounded by a moat, Rocca Sanvitale where we can see some truly beautiful frescoes by Parmigianino.
Concert in the evening
We will take a short train ride to the medieval town of Modena where we will spend the day. Famous for Pavarotti, Ferrari and vinegar. For those who wish, you can peel off to visit the Museo Enzo Ferrari close by the train station, while the rest walk into the centre of Modena. We will first see San Francesco, where we can find the work of a local terracotta master of great skill, the little known Antonio Begarelli. We will search out his life-size scene of the Deposition which fills an entire chapel and cannot fail to impress.
We will have a light lunch in the heart of the town before visiting the most remarkably preserved Romanesque Cathedral. It is no surprise that this is a World Heritage Site due to the amount of exquisite treasures within. We will take the train back to Parma in time to get ready for the evening.
Opera in the evening
After breakfast our coach will take us to Bologna airport for the flight home.
Tutors – The trip will be led by Charlie Winton and Francesca Dytor. Charlie has lived in Italy and knows and loves Parma well. Frankie is a keen pianist and singer. She was a choral scholar at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, releasing a CD with the Baroque group Orpheus Britannicus in 2017. She has now returned to Cambridge to research 19th century European cultural history.
Hotels – We will stay in the Mercure Parma Stendhal Hotel which is brilliantly located for all the Festival venues and in within the medieval centre of Parma. The rooms are large and bright. https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-9093-mercure-parma-stendhal/index.shtml
Parma Verdi Festival – Please note your first choice of seats may not be available. I have included an opera or concert for each evening, but please feel free to choose as many or as few as you would like. Please visit the festival website for more details on 2020 to give you an idea of what to expect in 2021.
Dinners – We will organise an early supper for those going to the operas or concert and one tutor will be around each evening to book dinner for those who would like to eat later if they are not going to the festival.
Transport – We will travel in comfort in a private coach with air-conditioning. We will take the train to Modena.
Ability – There will be a quite a bit of walking on this trip. As is the case for all our courses, there is a lot of standing while we discuss the works we are looking at.
Cost – The fees are £1550 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transfers for the recommended flight, transport when connected with teaching, parmesan cheese tasting, entrance fees, tuition, reading lists and local advice. The single room supplement is £220 (double room for single use). Please state on the form if you would be happy to share if available. Not included are the evening performances (contact me for price sheet), flights, suppers and travel insurance. The group will not exceed 16 people.
Flights – We do not book the flights thus allowing you to travel to suit your budget, use airmiles, travel between different airports or on different dates. The recommend flights are:
You must register before the end of March 2021 to reserve opera seats
The application form should be returned with a deposit of £600.00. Please note all new deposits paid after 24th March 2020 will be refunded if the current travel disruption continues due to Covid-19. Please call 01379 871800 or email email@example.com if you have any queries.
NB you must buy your own flights.