Opera in Aix-en-Provence

July 12 – 18, 2018

The Aix-en-Provence opera festival ranks with Salzburg and Glyndebourne among the most important in Europe. On this seven-day journey, attend classic operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, Purcell and Strauss. Explore the lives and art of Cézanne, Chagall and van Gogh, and the pleasures of French food and wine. Fred Plotkin, your opera and food expert, will share his knowledge and passion for these subjects.

Aix-en-Provence, which has inspired creativity and the pursuit of beauty for centuries, is the seat of one of the world’s foremost opera festivals, now 70 years old, the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence. On an itinerary that includes France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, attend theatrically vivid productions of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte,” Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel” and Strauss’s brilliant “Ariadne auf Naxos.” In addition to opera, Provence has been the home to extraordinary artists — including Cézanne, van Gogh and Chagall — whose works will enchant you, as will this region’s world-famous cooking, known as the “cuisine of the sun.”

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guide expert

Fred Plotkin

Fred Plotkin is one of the world’s foremost opera experts, notable not only for the depth and breadth of his knowledge but also for the joy and ease with which he shares it. He is the author of Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, the best-selling standard text in America for opera education.He has lectured, taught, consulted and held managerial or artistic roles at some of the top opera companies, including La Scala; the Metropolitan Opera; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.He is a frequent visitor to Great Britain and has immersed himself in that country’s rich culture.


Day 1: Bienvenue à Aix-en-Provence

Arrive in Nice and transfer to Aix-en-Provence. Check into the hotel and gather with your expert, Fred Plotkin, and your fellow opera lovers for a welcome dinner.

Day 2: Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”

After a morning discussion of the history of opera in France by Fred Plotkin, take the day to explore Aix-en-Provence or relax at the spa at your hotel. You may want to stroll the wide Cours Mirabeau and see how Aix got its nickname, “City of a Thousand Fountains,” or see the impressive cathedral, with styles ranging from the 5th to 17th centuries. Join your new friends at dinner before attending Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” in a production by Vincent Huguet at the Théâtre de l’Archevêché.

Day 3: Bastille Day, Cézanne and Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte”

This morning, take a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence, whose architectural heritage from Classical elegance to Baroque opulence inspired a native son, Paul Cézanne, and his childhood friend Émile Zola. Visit Cézanne’s Aix, with its houses, cafes, ateliers and natural beauty. After lunch, travel to Mont Sainte-Victoire, central to the life of the painter and the subject of some of his finest works. This evening, attend Mozart’s beloved “Die Zauberflöte” (production by Simon McBurney) at the Grand Théâtre de Provence. Dinner is on your own. Because it’s Bastille Day, be prepared for fireworks.

Day 4: Van Gogh’s Arles and Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel”

Journey to the town of Arles, where Vincent van Gogh lived in 1888–89, a time of intense drama and creativity in his tragic life. Explore some of the locations depicted in his paintings, including Place du Forum, the Trinquetaille Bridge, the Rhone River embankment, the Place Lamartine, the Rue Mireille and the Langlois Bridge. Many locations are marked with reproductions of van Gogh’s work, so you can compare the view today with what he saw. Conclude the morning at the Fondation van Gogh. After a leisurely lunch of Provençal fare, return to Aix in the late afternoon. This evening, attend a Mariusz Treliński production of Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel” at the Grand Théâtre de Provence. Dinner is on your own.

Day 5: Aix and Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos”

Attend a morning discussion by Fred Plotkin on the similarities and differences between divas and prima donnas as well as a review of the performances you have attended so far. After lunch, explore the galleries, food markets and atmospheric streets of Aix. In the evening, attend your final opera, Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos,” a production by Katie Mitchell starring Lise Davidsen as the prima donna, at the Théâtre de l’Archevêché. Explore Aix restaurants for dinner on your own.

Day 6: St. Paul-de-Vence and Chagall

Depart Aix in the morning and travel to St. Paul-de-Vence, a lovely town nestled between mountains and the sea. St. Paul is renowned for food and as the last home of Marc Chagall, the artist who designed opera productions and did the paintings that adorn the front of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and the ceiling of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. Stroll through the town, visiting places associated with Chagall. Check in to the hotel, and share a festive reception and farewell dinner.

Day 7: Au Revoir

After breakfast, transfer to the Nice airport, about 30 minutes away, for your flights home, with your spirit renewed from a week of beauty and inspiration.


Double Occupancy: $7,995

Single Occupancy: $9,645

trip details

Hotel Aquabella

The Hotel Aquabella offers a charming but contemporary refuge in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, within easy walking distance to the theaters.

Hotel La Vague de Saint Paul

This property presents a juxtaposition of provincial styling and modern décor. Every summer the hotel turns into a fine arts gallery, showcasing pieces that reflect the culture of the Côte d’Azur.

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