Our overdue return to Spain offers a concise week-long combination of the country’s two foremost cultural capitals – Madrid and Barcelona – during the Iberian Peninsula’s pleasant early spring weather. A minimum of travel anxiety is assured with direct flights to Madrid and returning from Barcelona, with an efficient train ride between the two cities. Our busy schedule concentrates on Madrid’s great museums, Barcelona’s fanciful Antonio Gaudí architecture, and a wealth of great performances highlighted by an Anniversary production of Aida a the Teatro Real and Jonas Kaufmann in one of his only three performances of the title role of Andrea Chénier at the Liceu. On previous occasions, we have been consistently surprised by Spain’s early spring.

Madrid will be our first destination, where a three-night stay will enable us to visit the city’s two priceless art museums - the Museo del Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemiza Collection (both within a few minutes walk of our ideally located deluxe Westin Palace Hotel). At the beautifully refurbished Teatro Real, the 200th Bicentennial Celebration of the theatre’s opening will offer a spectacular production of Verdi’s most popular opera, Aida. The Italian maestro Nicola Luisotti will conduct, and the international cast will include Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi as Aida and Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Amneris.

Our second city – for a leisurely four nights at the boutique 1898 Hotel on Las Ramblas – will be the Catalan capital of Barcelona, which celebrated the 150th birthday of their beloved favorite son Antonio Gaudí in 2002. Several sightseeing excursions will focus on the fanciful ‘art nouveau’ architecture accounting for Gaudí’s reputation as both a genius and a Catholic saint during the early 1900’s – a body of work which can only be appreciated by visiting Barcelona. We are fortunate to find an irresistible program of four performances which will take us to three of the city’s major theatres. At the celebrated Gran Teatre del Liceu, we are among the fortunate ticket-holders for the season’s highlight of Giordano’s verismo opera of the French Revolution, Andrea Chénier, boasting Jonas Kaufmann in the title role opposite soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and baritone Carlos Alvarez. A second evening at the Liceu will be a Concert Performance of Handel’s Baroque opera Ariodante, featuring the MET’s mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey in one of her signature ‘trouser’ roles under conductor William Christie leading his ‘early music’ ensemble Les Arts Florissants. A change of pace will take us into the not-to-be-missed ornate Art Nouveau Palau de la Musica for a Recital by the young Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz in a popular program of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin.  Finally, our last night will take us to the contemporary L’Auditori for a concert by the Madrid-based Saint Caecilia Classical Orchestra offering a program entitled Immortal Beethoven, which will include Symphony # 8 as well as the towering Symphony #9 (‘Choral’) with a quartet of vocal soloists and choir for Schiller’s triumphant Ode to Joy.

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Prices Per Person (Air Fare not Included)

Double Occupancy: $5,950
Single Occupancy: $6,930