I just returned home after leading two fantastic Circumnavigation of the Black Sea voyages! The Black Sea explorations are ever-changing and each year it seems there are new opportunities. On these recent voyages, for the first time, we were able to visit the famous Odessa Opera House.
Our tour agent in the Ukraine, Janna Belousova, and Zegrahm staff member, Olga Stone, worked together to obtain special permission from the director for an insiders tour of this incredible venue which has been closed and under renovation for the past seven years.
After our private Operetta Performance in a salon at Gagarin’s Palace, we strolled up the boulevard to the Opera House. Viewed from outside, the Viennese Baroque edifice is ornate and a work of art in itself, topped with a sculpture depicting Melpomene (The Muse of Tragedy) in her chariot pulled by four snarling panthers. Inside, the splendor of striking white stucco, gilded sculptures and ornaments, and sherbet-tinted hues of the marble pillars of the great hall and central staircase immediately transported us back to the grandeur of centuries past. This entrance resembled what one guest proclaimed “an amazing wedding cake!”
In the theater itself the bold décor commanded a certain speechless reverence. Over a half ton of brilliant gold leaf relief detailed the friezes, moldings, and columns, complementing and highlighting the opulent “Russian Red” of the velvet covered seats and private boxes.
On our late September voyage, as we listened to performers warm up for the night’s surprise performance of Verdi’s La Traviata backstage, a few of our guests, staff, and crew chose to forego dinner aboard and instead purchased tickets for the performance that evening. They returned with stories of a night of music and beauty that was to be the personal highlight of their voyage!
Odessa is a beautiful city noted for its music, art, and incredible history, yet the Ukraine is just one of the many countries we visit on our cultural explorations in the Black Sea, the Adriatic, or the Baltic (to name just a few of our destinations). On each journey we seek to introduce the music, cuisine, history, art, and the incredible natural landscapes to our intrepid travelers. From year to year each voyage evolves to offer new options, inviting new discussion and enabling us to seize a front row seat in the dynamic “theater” of history in action. I hope you’ll join us for further discoveries and once in a lifetime opportunities.