Monday, 28 February 2011

Spring HAD sprung

Two or three recent days had lulled us into thinking the seasons were turning. Crocuses and daffodils were poking their heads above ground and there was discernible warmth in the sunshine but alas, no more as icy wind and rain return. In one week the roof arrives and in two and half weeks it will be there in it's full spectacular glory.

My morning has shifted from chuckling at Arsenal's misadventure to the wonders of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West. There is no link, just the myriad offerings of an iPad - news, music and flick football too (PikPok's 'Flick Kick' in case you were wondering).

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

La Stupenda remembered

The Thanksgiving service for Dame Joan Sutherland took place at Westminster Abbey yesterday and a gathering of the great and good from the world of music seemed a fitting remembrance. Richard Bonynge's reading was very touching and delicate and it was appropriate to have the orchestra of the ROH, with Pappano conducting, providing the pre service music and accompaniment. I still think there ought to have been a ritzy send off concert for her at the house itself but the Abbey is grand enough.

I did feel for the singer who performed a couple of lovely pieces; at one point she had to immediately follow on from the playing of a recording of La Stupenda singing Casta Diva. That's pressure but she sang admirably. It was strange to hear the recording floating through the huge Abbey with what must have been a couple of thousand people hushed in contemplation. I was struck by the natural theatricality of it and theatres don't come much bigger or more dramatic than that huge church. The music was impeccably chosen and performed and all in all I think Richard will be immensely pleased with a dignified and majestic service. We look forward to Don Pasquale with him in June.

At the close of the service, it took a while to get out because of the old friends and colleagues one kept bumping into. I was sitting next to David Whelton of the Philharmonia Orchestra, a very nice colleague with whom I had some dealings a few years back. He has one of the more interesting culinary interests; he is a connoisseur of the tomato which being of southern Italian stock I find highly commendable indeed. As if to prove my point, as I write this, a nearby market trader has dropped a mango which has rolled to my feet by my table. A mango is a mango whatever and wherever it is but the tomato is as varied as the peoples of the planet. I raise a glass of passata to men like David Whelton and the mammas like mine who perform miracles with it.

Back in the real world, I have issues to deal French drains and dimmer racks.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


It was a lovely evening at the National Army Museum last night where we provided some music for the opening of their exhibition about wives and sweethearts. Meeting Dame Vera Lynn, a genuine claimant to the title of 'Force's Sweetheart' was a real pleasure. Meeting Kate Adie, another legend in my eyes, was an added bonus although the instinct is to check there are no explosions behind her. Among the top brass, MOD and other guests were a pleasingly large number of supporters of OHP although I did happen across a General threatening James with a court martial if we ever turned into Glyndebourne. I could have sworn he was standing to attention at the time -and so was James. I gave out lots of business cards so I expect some instructional emails soon but if the Green Jackets turn up in armoured personnel carriers I will know that James's General has had enough.

The exhibition is very touching and there has been a lot of press for it recently - I suppose it really is 'of the moment', sadly. Good luck to them with it.

I am itching to talk about our new sponsors (I am at another museum tonight for an event with them) but unfortunately the time is not yet right - another fortnight or so should do it.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A week of events to which we are contributing. I say contributing because they are not ours but they all indicate the growing web of relationships that the company continues to develop. One is of particular significance because it is our first with our new sponsor, news of which I will hopefully be able to give soon. The other is at the National Army Museum who we are in the early stages of a relationship with. You may wonder what the Army has to do with opera but the imperatives of a museum are not too dissimilar to that of an opera company in the same borough; both are looking to engage with youngsters and to draw links between all kinds of history and culture. When you stop and think about it, you tend to find all manner of ways in which to work together.

It is only one month until we begin the build. Ambassadors and Friends begin booking this week too, which is always the most obvious sign things are on the move and although it is still cold, the light available during the day is increasing. Phones in the office light up once patrons start to receive information so Julia will have her hands full with that for a while!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

2012 ahoy

It was pleasing to finally start talking about 2012 in a non Olympic way. If you missed it, we have announced four of our operas for that season: Lucia di Lammermoor, Cosi, Onegin and Falstaff. We have a new way of working planned for 2012 and there are two operas to be announced. All good stuff and Falstaff is certainly one of the greater challenges from the Verdi repertoire.

We have also been heavily engaged in the process of securing new partners and I am keen to unburden myself of some good news there as well. Such things are not just down to me so much much vaunted patience is being tested.