Classical Croatia with Robert Dean
Four-hours daily masterclass with Robert Dean (technique and repertoire).
Perform in Split with Robert Dean.
Exquiste accommodation within the UNESCO Diocletian palace.
Delicious food in handpicked restaurants.
All meals (and wine with dinner), transfers and tuition
Going all Aggie MacKenzie!
I’m looking strange. Not to Temi, the longsuffering better half of Singing Holidays. She mapped out my infinite strange-isms years ago to the extent that nothing much surprises her. No, I look strange to the multitude of passers-by who are deftly sidestepping my static bulk with some last-second ninja avoidance.
We’re standing in a narrow side street just off the Narodni Trg (People’s Square) in Split where I’m transfixed by the pavement. “My God that’s clean and shiny!” I think to myself. Sun-drenched flagstones gleam up at me looking as if they’ve been ten rounds with a pair of Marigolds and lost. Their iridescent shimmer speaks volumes. To most, they are a beautiful testament to the passage of time – a two-thousand-year-old magic limestone carpet that stretches through the city of Split like the lines of life on an ancient hand.
Being a neat and tidy homemaker (Temi has a slightly less positive slant on my thoroughly modern-man demeanour), I’ve predictably gone all Aggie MacKenzie. Dusting over the historical importance of this time-worn highway, my attention is squarely focused on its sparkly luminescence. ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ I ask one of the street ninjas. ‘Shiny streets, that’s what!’. Temi gives me a sideways, ‘He’s finally lost it’ glare of pity.
If you don’t know Split then you’re in for a visual and historical treat. The old centre is to all intents and purposes a Roman palace – a vast retirement home built by the very interesting rags-to-riches emperor, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus (or Diocles to his mum). Born into a lower-class Dalmation family, Diocles rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. On the Emperor’s death (and after a battle or two), young Diocles or Diocletian as he came to be known, claimed the top job and decided to build the home of his dreams.
It’s the usual Grand Designs storyline: Man finds the perfect location on the coast; Man builds a small dwelling over seven acres with two-metre thick, seventy-two-metre high walls; Man likes towers; Man builds towers – sixteen of them; Man fills new home with a small army, a few slaves and the odd servant; Man leans back with goblet of wine in hand and bunch of grapes (probably in someone else’s hand) to admire his work and those all-important Neptunian views. In your face Kevin McCloud!
As well as the incredible history and Game of Thrones-style architecture (the hit TV show has been filmed here on numerous occasions), Split remains a real town. Notwithstanding the tourism, which between the months of May and September is close to overwhelming, this is a city with a beating heart and a strong community.
Music and food are central to the Dalmatian way of life and, as always on a Singing Holidays’ event, we’ll be taking full advantage of all the riches Split has to offer. Whether it’s a seafood risotto in a tiny side-street Konoba washed down with a delicious crispy Croatian white, or listening to the incredible a cappella of a local Klapa group in the Diocletian peristil, Split oozes musical and culinary culture. If music be the food of love, keep singing Split!
A warm towel
On this five-night Luxury Classical Croatia Singing Holiday we’re joined by guest conductor and great friend Robert Dean. With a CV as long as Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Robert comes with an eye-watering amount of skill and experience. As a principal singing teacher at the Guildhall School of Music, Robert has taught (and continues to teach) many of today’s opera stars. He’s also an international conductor and, as leader of both the London Choral Society and Philharmonia Chorus, he has worked under the auspices of Solti, Rattle and Barenboim. He’s a real clever clogs!
Clever clogs aside, Robert has a great sense of humour and just in case you’re panicking, he’s a complete softy. He’s delighted to help anyone and everyone so if you’re still vocally pinned to the shower curtain Split may well be the perfect time to step into the warm towel of Singing Holidays.
Our days will commence with a three-hour master class with Robert where we’ll be learning some appropriate classical repertoire for a performance on the penultimate day. A group lunch will be followed by free time to enjoy the ridiculous amount of riches that are right on the doorstep. A further hour rehearsal in the evening before a delicious dinner in a choice Split ristorante will complete a typical day.
At Singing Holidays we like to keep things cosy. We don’t like the mega out of town soulless hotels where you feel utterly removed from the action. Hotel chains with 100 rooms, off the peg hotel furniture, identical bedrooms, remote service, plastic breakfasts… Nah, not for us. Yuck!
Our Classical Croatia Singing Holiday is no exception to the usual Singing Holidays high standards. We’ll be staying in two charming boutique hotels that are quite literally in the centre of town and, most conveniently, right next to each other. In fact, we’re going to be so central we’re actually staying in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Diocletian Palace which has dominated the old town for the last 1700 years.
Both our hotels are small intimate jewels set within gleaming stone streets and secret courtyards. Perfect places to hole up for our five-nights of Classical Croatia Singing Holidays bliss.
Poljana Grgura Ninskog 3
21000, Split, Croatia
Poljana Grgura Ninskog 1
21000, Split, Croatia
EVERYTHING was done well. Nothing was too much trouble for Alex and Temi. The whole experience was really enjoyable and left me feeling so happy.I can’t wait to go on my next singing holiday!
'A memorable holiday!'
Singing by the beautiful Weißensee with the warm and hugely talented Unthanks delivered all that I’ve come to expect from holidays with Alex and Temi: a lovely setting, infectious good humour and the pleasure of music-making led by exceptional and delightful musicians. Throw into the mix an evening performance with local singers leading to a laughter-filled exchange of songs stretching into the wee hours and I’m left with memories of one of the most joyful experiences of my musical life.
Small is beautiful
We think it’s the little things in life that matter the most. That’s why we only take small groups on our singing holidays. We want you to eat in tiny restaurants where mamma still cooks the food and stay in cosy, exquisite nests that feel like home.
We want you to get the maximum from every opportunity – from the incredibly talented professionals who teach you right through to the inspirational performance spaces that might otherwise be inaccessible.
A small group allows us to focus on the little details that can make all the difference and on you as an individual rather than just a face in the crowd. Most importantly though, a small group engenders a warmth and intimate connection between ‘friends’ who just LOVE to sing.