Sunday, 25 February 2007

The grindstone

Several days in the northern Portuguese town of Porto were blessed with the unexpected bonus of sunshine and warmth. A dose of light works wonders for the spirit – even when the spirit is sodden with quantities of the beverage that took its name from the town. The trip was pleasantly embellished by texts from James reporting on a steady stream of black pen entries on the 2008 Magic Flute board, which really is good news. I was in Porto for a football match and I can tell you that these days, the multifarious professions and characters that make the away trips is startling. Saying that I work in opera is still raises more eyebrows than most but I did meet “one of the top ten re-insurance lawyers in the world”. A thoroughly nice fellow with a lawyer’s sharp and educated brain, he nevertheless descends, with the rest of us, into squawking hysteria at the mere sight of a green pitch and white ball. The referee was especially subject to some colourful and Public/Catholic School inspired opprobrium. Football is like that and it has been a tradition at Holland Park for many years that we should make public announcements of the score of England matches during big tournaments. I suppose I could make one of those “from the pulpit” type speeches about how opera and football are not so different, but the memory of Billy Connolly’s brilliant sketch on the subject is enough to keep me the right side of such pretentiousness. I have no desire to end up Pseud’s Corner (actually, I’d probably consider it an honour if truth be told).

It has been good to hear of the success of two OHP favourites in the production of La traviata at the Sydney Opera house. Kate Ladner, who will reprise the role of Violetta for us in July, deserves the success and Aldo di Toro, one of the stars of our season in 2006 - and who will return in Jenufa in June - was a big wow too. He is going to be harder and harder to get as time passes I suspect. When he knocked everyone out in Fedora, his phone didn’t stop ringing for a week.

And now it is back to the grindstone. I am feeling somewhat freer of the theatre build since we finalised the mezzanine contractors but it is never ending and I suspect I shall continue to be as pre-occupied with the theatre as I am with selling tickets and everything else. I have been talking to gardeners about ferns and hostas, lavender and sweet pea, banana and fig. If nothing else, we’ll have the raw material to start up an OHP brand homeopathic range. Or maybe a fruit stall.

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