Welsh National Opera
- No fly
- Half board
Enjoy opera in Bournemouth
On this four-night special interest holiday, you are invited to immerse yourself in the drama, power and emotion of operatic music, performed by Welsh National Opera. Founded in 1943, the group’s objective remains unchanged: to apply the singing talent associated with Wales, the ‘Island of Song’, to operatic masterpieces and treat audiences around the world to truly special musical performances.
During your stay at Bournemouth’s Hermitage Hotel (4Q), you will enjoy two operatic performances - Goethe’s Faust and Il Trovatore, written by Giuseppe Verdi. Before each performance, performed at the Mayflower Theatre, your expert hosts Matthew Craven and Judith Buckle will provide a captivating talk on the musical intricacies and history of the pieces. Also included is an opportunity to visit the Russell-Cotes Museum, located on Bournemouth’s East Cliff and providing an in-depth insight into a private Victorian collection.
All breakfasts (B) and dinners (D)
Local expert guide
- Cancellation rights
- Expert host talks
- Hosted welcome drinks reception
- Two operatic performances
- Free Wi-Fi
- Hotel porterage
- Visit to the Russell-Cotes Museum
The Hermitage Hotel, Exeter Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK BH2 5AH
The 4-star Hermitage Hotel occupies one of the best hotel locations in Bournemouth, directly in front of the iconic pier.
All 76 traditional bedrooms have a flat-screen television, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities and free Wi-Fi. Saga guests stay in standard rooms with inland views (upgrades to sea view, superior, superior sea view and suites available on request). The hotel has a lift, and some rooms are located on the ground floor.
Tea coffee making facilities
Food and Drink
All meals will be served in the hotel's Hardy’s Restaurant, awarded an AA Rosette and using local and sustainable ingredients. The NEO restaurant (a la carte and at an additional charge) features a modern lounge bar serving over 40 gins and with an extensive cocktail menu.
A la carte restaurant
Bournemouth is located on a coastline of outstanding natural beauty and features fine Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including Langtry Manor House built by Edward VII for his mistress Lillie Langtry.
The town has many museums, perhaps the most striking of which is The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in nearby East Cliff. Set in an unusual Victorian garden, it exhibits a fantastic display of pictures, 17th to 20th-century oil paintings, oriental treasures and furniture.
Bournemouth also has 2,000 acres of parks and gardens and you can stroll from the town centre to the seafront through the Central and Lower Gardens without crossing a single road!
The New Forest, rolling Dorset hills and stunning Jurassic Coast are also only a short distance away. There's the pretty Boscombe area with its pier, Victorian arcade, antiques market, beautiful parks and fine sandy beaches; the tranquil seafront of Southbourne that boasts a splendid sandy beach and Christchurch – five miles away – is a charming town with a magnificent 11th-century Priory Church.
The area's other attractions include the country estate of Kingston Lacy and the scenic remains of Corfe Castle.
From the A31 turn into the A338 (Wessex Way) following directions to Bournemouth for about eight miles. At the Bournemouth West roundabout take the first left onto Cambridge Road. At the next roundabout take the first exit onto Commercial Road which then becomes Terrace Road and Exeter Road. Proceed to the next roundabout and continue on the B3066 towards the seafront. Your hotel is situated a short distance along on the left hand side. There is a free car park at the hotel subject to availability.
If you have arranged rail travel through Saga you will receive tickets to Bournemouth railway station. Transfers to and from the hotel are not included – it is about two miles from the hotel and easily reached by taxi or by using the local bus services (bus numbers M1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 pass close to the hotel). Your Saga host will meet you on arrival at the hotel.
The nearest National Express drop off point is the coach terminus, right next to Bournemouth railway station at the Travel Interchange. Details of coach services can be obtained by phoning 08705 808080 or you can visit their website for up-to-date timetables and bookings.
A taxi to the hotel should cost around £6. If you wish to pre-book a taxi, the hotel recommends PRC Streamline Warren taxis, telephone: 01202 373737. PRC Streamline Warren are not associated with Saga; any contract is between you and them, and all queries about their service must be referred directly to them.
Matthew first ventured onto the stage 40 years ago when he joined the chorus in a production of L’elisir d’amore. Since that time he has performed a multitude of roles in music hall, plays, musicals, operetta and opera. Matthew now runs Cameo Opera with his wife Judith, performing over 120 shows each year in this country and abroad.
Judith studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was a member of the BBC Singers before joining the London Savoyards travelling around the world aboard the QE2. She has had a wide and varied career, ranging from early music to grand opera where she has performed more than 40 principal roles in performances worldwide.
Day 1 Arrival
Upon arrival at the hotel, sit down to a meal with your hosts and fellow travellers to get to know each other. Perhaps during your meal, your conversation will turn towards a shared love of opera, highlighting your favourites and discussing where the passion began. D
Day 2 Faust
This morning is yours to enjoy however you wish. Perhaps stroll along Bournemouth’s attractive seafront, gazing south-west towards ‘Old Harry Rocks’, a formation of chalk stacks which mark the edge of the Jurassic Coast. Enjoy a captivating talk delivered by your hosts about the evening’s performance before dinner.
It is then a short drive to the Mayflower Theatre, where you are invited to take your seats and bask in the operatic splendour of Faust, delivered by the Welsh National Opera. B, D
Day 3 Il Trovatore
After breakfast, enjoy time at leisure to further explore the area. With access to a car, you might like to journey to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, or the village of Corfe Castle, which enjoys the sights and sounds of a regularly passing steam train and provided the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in author Enid Blyton’s Five on a Treasure Island.
Back at the hotel, your pre-dinner talk, delivered by Matthew and Judith, is all about Il Trovatore, performed after dinner at the Mayflower Theatre. B, D
Day 4 Russell-Cotes Museum
Your morning is occupied by a visit to the Russell-Cotes Museum, located on Bournemouth’s East Cliff. Its construction took four years, being completed in 1901, after which it was gifted by Merton Russell-Cotes to his wife Annie. The couple filled it with their extensive collection of art, artefacts and sculptures, all of which can be seen today.
The afternoon is yours to spend however you wish before dinner and a farewell concert performed by your host. B, D
Day 5 Farewell
Following breakfast, check out of the hotel and make your way home, having immersed yourself in the splendid world of operatic music, provided by the phenomenal Welsh National Opera. B
Visit the Russell-Cotes Museum
Originally known as ‘East Cliff Hall’, the building’s construction took four years and when it was completed in 1901, Merton Russell-Cotes gifted the house to his wife Annie. An extravagant ‘gift’, the couple filled it with the lavish paintings, sculptures and objects from faraway lands that had taken up swathes of space in the Royal Bath Hotel, also owned by Russell-Cotes. It was - and is recognised today as being - a wondrous private Victorian collection.
Upon arrival, you will be met by a main hall overlooked by an architecturally impressive central dome decorated with motifs of the night - such as owls, bats, stars and comets - before passing through a series of galleries and rooms, discovering items picked up exotic travels and artworks that have impressed experts and visitors alike.
Included on 4 nights itinerary
This French grand opera is a magnificent exploration of humanity. Filled with humour, tragedy and action, the Welsh National Opera’s performance will emotively guide you through Faust’s deal with the Devil, his captivation by Marguerite and several characters’ ultimate and dramatic downfall.
A story, primarily, of revenge, Il Trovatore is said to possess some of the operatic world’s most rousing and powerful choruses. It is, therefore, more than suitable for the Welsh National Opera.