Monday, 22 February 2010

Fantastic Mr Fox

If you ferret around on our website at, you'll see that we have just announced the European and UK premiere of Tobias Picker's opera of Dahls' 'Fantastic Mr Fox' on the park's Yucca Lawn (the link above - the title of this blog entry -  gives some interesting background on the piece.) Anyway, the piece aside, I was struck today by the never ending oddities of the things we are all required to consider in our daily trudge through the world of opera. In another post in this blog's history, I referred to a meeting in which I sat through some very in-depth discussions about cemetery management. Today, we thought about the most appropriate time to programme the performances of 'Fox' in order that children's lunch and tea could be considered. All vital and unavoidable and being the only parent in the office, I do feel somewhat like the 'child bore' when such things arise, but it means I can bring some authenticity to the more critical challenges that face us. In any case, I continue to annoy my colleagues by referring to the opera as the Fantastic Mr Volpe (at the risk of stating the obvious to my learned readers, Volpe is the Italian word for Fox). It was a pleasing day as an anonymous donor pledged £1,000 to our Friends for the production, a sum that joins the several other thousands pledged by generous patrons to make it all happen. 

Lucy, our corporate and events officer is back from her weary journey to Mustique. She wasn't best pleased by the change in light and temperature that confronted her in Kensington. Our collective heart bled all over the floor for her. But she is back, pressing her gently tanned nose to the grindstone, securing our future. Despite the downturn/upturn/tentative recovery/waiting to tip over the abyss (delete as appropriate) we appear to be attracting much attention.

I am dying to announce some good news but am legally prevented from doing so for the time being. Given my role in life and my general methodology (OK, I have a big mouth) you can be sure that not a nanosecond will pass beyond the very moment I am permitted to tell you all what it is I am dying to tell you all etc.

Hundreds of Friends booking forms have thudded onto the box office carpet and are being processed as we speak. A couple thousand more are due anytime soon.  It is humbling and quite remarkable how the Friends have flourished in recent years; from a first donation of just £7,000 a few short years ago to something in the order of £220,000 in 2009. And that is on top of the 18,000 odd tickets that they buy. 

The breadth and scope of the Inspire Project continues to surprise us and our event with Looked-after Children on Friday was heartwarming and touching for all concerned; a potent vignette of just what kids can achieve when given the right guidance and motivation.  Ideas for partnerships continue to flood in and suggest some very interesting diversions in the near future. If we have our way, opera will be woven fully into the fabric of life in RBKC; it is a powerful tool as many people working in challenging roles are starting to discover.

Now, as I spy the canopy build approaching through the snow, ice, wind and rain, I must take some difficult decisions. First and foremost is how on earth do we protect the new false grass that has been laid in front of the house?