The 2017 Vienna Ring Cycle tour which also included operas in Budapest and Bratislava was an outstanding experience from overture to applause. Everything from the choice of first class hotels to the inclusion of prime orchestra seats was handled with exceptional professionalism. Nothing was too much trouble to Swati and Alistair Arani, and their incredible personal attention to details left little to chance. This was my first tour of any kind and frankly had never been interested in joining a tour group. But, when I discovered that the maximum group size was 15, I look a leap of faith and booked. As it transpired, there were only 2 of us and I feared that perhaps the tour would be canceled, but HAT Opera Tours do not cancel. We enjoyed the same if not higher level of extraordinary and personal service that a larger group might have received. This tour was a retirement gift to myself. Though I have no performing musical talent, I have been passionate about opera since a small child listening to my father’s records. I am currently serving as the President of Greensboro Opera, a professional regional opera company in North Carolina. I chose this particular tour because of a love of Wagner’s Ring Cycle having seen live performances at Covent Garden, the Met and in San Francisco, plus several video productions. The clincher for me was the promise of prime seats that I knew I could not book myself. Added to that, having all of the logistics of hotel selection, transportation between cities, guided tours, taxis etc. taken care of, made choosing HAT Opera Tours a no brainer. HAT Opera Tours has the advantage of over 35 years of experience specializing in opera tours. They have built up extensive contacts with superior English speaking guides and have established relationships with first class hotels and opera houses. They know their stuff and they deliver the goods! I can not wait to take my next HAT Opera Tour!
North Carolina, USA
The opera trip to Berlin and East Germany was an amazing experience. You are definitely an excellent planner and gracious tour host. I really appreciated the excursion days and free days to explore the different towns and museums. So many repeat tour members are a real tribute to you and what interesting fun people they all are. Hotels were splendid. Operas were delightful. I especially liked the fact that dinners except for three special ones were on our own which meant that one could conveniently pick up a bite at the opera intervals and have more free time for other things. (Berlin, Dresden ,Leipzig, Weimar 2014)
Anne & Lee Salisbury
Stillwater, MN, United States
We return again and again and know we can count on a delightful experience with the Aranis. Each tour, even the first, has been like traveling with old friends. You have exceeded our expectations and we know we can count on having all the details taken care of and just be able to relax and enjoy the company of the small group. Hotels, meals, performances, guides are all top notch. Your enthusiasm is contagious and the personal touch you exhibit is most enjoyably and special. (Central Europe, September 2013)
Doug and Marty Brown
Broomfield, CO, United States
Travelling with H.A.T. tours is a feast for the senses, the mind, the heart. They plan the trips to include art, literature, food, culture and of course opera! Our trip this fall to Scandinavia and Russia was amazing. Images float into my mind giving me joy at such odd moments. Meeting new friends, eating dinner by a canal wrapped in a blanket, getting lost in the Hermitage, watching the people, being challenged by creative opera productions, thinking in a new way about the cultural distinctions among us. Now I must have candles lit for dinner, eat herring, watch for exibits by Max Ernst and plan more trips. (Scandinavia and Russia)
Pittsfield, MA, United States
Wonderful work that you did for The Washington Opera trip to Budapest and Prague. Your expert handling of all the details made for a worry-free and pleasurable experience for all the trip participants. Starting with our arrival in Budapest where you met us at the airport with porters to take our luggage from the carousel and escorted us through customs, to the knowledgeable and interesting guides you provided for our city tours. The good choice of performances we attended in boht cities. Ending with the final dinner, in the wonderful restaurant New York in Prague, where we enjoyed such good food and wines. All of this made for a memorable trip. I know that all the participants of our Washington Opera trip to Budapest and Prague have very fond memories of H.A.T. Tours and especially of your personal touch in everything you did for us. Thank you again and I hope to see you in the near future on another of your wonderful tours.
The Washington Opera
Washington DC, United States
We were impressed by the efficient transport arrangements, the excellent seats at each of the performances, and the first-class hotel accommodation (often walking distance from the opera house). But most of all, we realized that the primary goal of HAT Tours was that we should get maximum enjoyment from our tour. This meant their constant attention to those details that make the difference between a “by the-number” tour and really memorable experience, like getting premium tickets to Anna Netrebko’s Violetta in Vienna (to the detriment of their budget). We look forward to our next trip with Hat Tours, which is already confirmed for 2012. (Central Europe 2009, India 2010, Northern Italy 2010, Germany and Austria 2011, Southern Italy 2012).
Graham and Gay Sharman
Santa Fee, NM, United States
West Hartford, Connecticut, and Stowe, Vermont;, Coordinators: Stowe Area Opera Lovers We all book for the operas and we are spoilt for choice of operas/ cities to which we travel/ the seats which are organized for us. HAT TOURS claim to fame are their Opera Tours (and I am very thankful for that) ... but the surprise for us every time is the wonderful dinners to which we are treated. YET ... I have not read one review about their wonderful degustation dinners. These are researched with a lot of care. Not any restaurant will do/not any menu will do. We are taken to some of the best restaurants in Europe. Quietly researched by this indefatigable duo/ visited/ tested - before er even cross the portals ... Our last tour was Leipzig / Dresden / Berlin on one evening in each of those cities we were taken on a surprise walk to a wonderful restaurant and made to feel very special. I am an Opera Fan but if I do too many of your trip I may well become a "foodie and wine fan."
Mrs. Johanna and Dr. Bruce Perks
Since we’d never been on a H.A.T. tour, we really didn’t know what to expect from the Northern Italy tour we’ve now just completed. Would the hotels be as good as suggested by the website? What would the city tours and tour guides be like? How good would the seats at the operas be? Would the inter-city transportation runs smoothly? Etc. Well, suffice to say that the tour exceeded our highest expectations!! The hotels, tours, tour guides, seats, and transportation were all terrific — and, most important, Grethe and Aspee were there to make sure everything ran smoothly; to iron out the wrinkles that do inevitably occur on a tour, especially in Italy; to act as enthusiastic cheerleaders for our group; and to be charming and interesting travel companions. Keeping the group small also worked very well, maximizing enjoyment of the city tours and creating opportunities for wonderful new friendships. Count us in for future H.A.T. tours! (Northern Italy 2011, Western Europe 2012, Central Europe 2013, East Germany 2014, Northern Italy 2015)
Warren Azano and Judyth Pendell
Stowe, Vermont, United States
We've done close to a dozen trips with The Aranis and I think I've seen enough to say it: they make it look easy. They've got the energy and sense of purpose to make it so the pieces all click together at the joints, and the tact to make you think they're having fun doing it, which means you have fun; perhaps they do too. We've got many fond memories of our trips with them and we look forward to more.
Jack Ayer Professor of Law Emeritus
UC- Davis, CA, United States
Travelling with the Aranis on European Opera Tours is always both a pleasure and an enlightening experience. Our trip to Scandinavia in May 2016 once again confirmed that these small, personalized tours are thoughtfully organized with first-class opera performances, outstanding accommodations and dining, great guides, ample free time, and well-informed travel companions. Scandinavia was our fourth trip with European Opera Tours, and we will definitely travel with them again in the spring of 2017. In all of the cities we visited (Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, and Stockholm), we saw the major sights, had ample time for exploring on our own or relaxing, and were able to acquire a real sense of the city and its history. Copenhagen was a particular pleasure because Grethe was our guide, and she not only knows the city like the native she is but also is extremely articulate in explaining the sights and giving advice on what to see when exploring on one’s own. All of our stops included wonderful opera performances with outstanding voices and exciting productions. The Aranis always select a range of operas - some standard repertory, some less frequently performed works, and a mix of composers and time periods. In addition, they provide clear, helpful synopses of each of the operas. We arrived home with our heads full of sights and music and ready to think about our next trip with European Opera Tours. Sounds of Scandinavia 2016
Richard and Debbie Felder
Aspen, CO, United States
The Eastern European opera tour with The Aranis was far beyond my wildest hopes. They are skilled, charming hosts and everything was smooth and delightful. The accommodations, opera seats, meals and tour guides were par excellent. The small group bonded and we found the balance between time on our own and introductory sightseeing just right. It was amazing how it felt like we were traveling with family or longterm friends. As this was my first time vacation traveling in Europe as a widow, I also appreciated the opportunity for togetherness and solitude. Cannot wait to learn about the 2015 itinerary and can't rave enough about this operation. (Central Europe )
Dr. Barbara Okun
Dedham, MA , United States
We had always wanted to take an Opera Tour and researched for years. There was something about HAT that appealed to us. We weren't sure how we would like the experience and we were thrilled! From day one you both took care of every detail with the greatest of ease and delicacy. Our sightseeing was outstandingly and carefully planned keeping in mind everyone's special interests. How thrilling it was for me as a retired music teacher to see the Sound of Music tour highlights tailored to my interests as you promised Grethe! The hotels we stayed in were deluxe plus! The Gourmet restaurants were superb and Aspee's wine pairings made the delicious food even tastier! Comfort and ease were foremost in your trip preparations and itineraries and we so appreciated it! You and Aspee set the stage for an outstanding performance of tour leadership! For anyone considering an Opera Tour, HAT is your ticket to an award winning performance.
Catherine & Howard Leon
New York, U.S.A.
You two do an amazing job of making nice arrangements with good hotels, good tickets and interesting side trips. But what makes your tours quite special is that you establish such a lovely camaraderie among your patrons. The small Groups are part of the success but it is the personalities, enthusiasm and dedication of both of you that make H.A.T. Tours outstanding. As you said, "It is like a Family reunion." (Wagner's Ring Milan 2013)
Big thanks to you both for another wonderful tour. Just when I think a tour was as good as it can be, you come up with something better. Your opera and city selections were simply delightful, and your attention to detail can't be beat! I don't think the hotels could be topped. Hope we'll have an opportunity to travel with one of your congenial groups again. (Southern Italy 2013)
Dr. Joseph Benedict
Mystic River, CT