Monday, 27 June 2011

Finishing on a high

The toughest most endlessly problematic two weeks of recent years came to a triumphant closeon Saturday night when the gorgeous L'amico Fritz ended it's run in warm weather and in front of a packed out, ecstatic audience. Everybody was sad to see it ending which is the sign of a happy company and a good show. The reviews, culminating in a fabulous one in the Sunday Times said everything that needs to be said; "this was vintage Opera Holland Park".

Naturally, with the recently arrived hot weather comes the threat of rain and so it is that today we expect torrential downpours later on. The exciting Figaro and La rondine are working in the theatre this week so hopefully it will be brief.

This week is also about meeting and assessing companies who want the job of helping us set up as a private company and charity - a development we are currently exploring. Exciting times ahead...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Web worries

I am struggling with a sore back today so will seek out the magic hands of a Chinese doctor who I call Dr Death. When driving his thumbs into your spinal cord he intones gravely that the instant pain you suffer is because either of your organs is not functioning well. It isn't because he has just reduced your spine to mush of course.

Anyway, I am contemplating removing all Google alerts. I get links to obscure websites who talk about OHP...some reporting on all manner of erroneous facts. One gentleman who left a review on Trip Advisor said he had enjoyed it immensely and that he thought the local people must have been keeping it to themselves because there are no reviews on us anywhere! If someone fancies registering with TA in order to point out that we are quite well reviewed I would be grateful.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Outfox-ing the weather

Well what a weekend. Two performances of Fantastic Mr Fox had to be moved to the deck inside the theatre because of the threatening clouds. One of them was for Liccy Dahl and supporters of the Dahl charity so we were disappointed they didn't get the full version. However, it proved to be a good call because within minutes of kicking off a storm of biblical proportions broke right above us delivering hail and the sort of torrential rain you usually see in the tropics. James and I, soaked through in suits, could be found trying to stem the tide of water running into the deck with yard brooms. We are nothing if not an egalitarian company. It was a Herculean effort by all concerned and the show went on. Another performance later in the day and another yesterday passed off with little dramatic weather intervention. We really must be out of our minds.

This week we look forward to the final performances of Don Pasquale and Fritz before Figaro and Rondine move into the theatre next week. Exciting times...again.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Week won

So the first week of OHP 2011 ended with a lovely fundraising event at Chickenshed in north London - for fitting it in James deserves a medal. It was very unusual for us to do such a thing both in that place and at that time and a very full evening, suffused with great humour and informality, delivered opera to what seemed like a lot of newcomers. And the young thesps of Chickenshed did themselves proud as they showcased the results of this week's workshop (yes, time was found for that too!) Congrats and thanks to all.

Back at OHP itself we have had an emotional and brilliantly successful week with both Don Pasquale and L'amico Fritz opening to fantastic reviews in general. With the weather turning chilly it hasn't been easy for them all...nor for us! Investec Wealth & Investment had their first event too which went terrifically well and we met some lovely clients who found the whole experience a delight. They are a really enthusiastic and imaginative sponsor and we simply need more companies like them to underpin the work of the arts in this country.

It has also been a week in which hundreds of new opera goers have enjoyed L'amico Fritz on the Opera Challenge and as occupiers of our £12 Inspire seats which is ironic since good old Alfie has been in the press again droning on about his working class roots and how all of us in the world of opera look down on him. Bless.

The vagaries of scheduling meant that we have had a ratio of three to one performances of Don P and Fritz so we look forward to the more balanced week. Anna Leese is shuttling between Cardiff Singer of The World and Fritz so a tiring week is in store for all. If you are coming in to the shows, we shall see you there. A word of advice; the Met Office and the BBC appear to be making up their forecasts as they go along. I cannot tell you how catastrophically bad and inaccurate their reports have been. Truly awful and inaccurate to the point of absurdity.
Listen to me.....if it is sunny and warm, bring a coat or blanket.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Up and galloping

Tuesday night saw us get underway with Don Pasquale...a fantastic reaction from the audience and a respectful one from the press so far with occasional florid praise from certain quarters. Lots of crits to come so we shall see what picture merges. Nevertheless, there is some wonderful singing and comedy gold to be had.

Patrons have been full of praise too, for the theatre  and the large zebras (yes, zebras) look surreal and beautiful and give quite a few shocks as people round various corners! I am growing to love our zebras and at the Fritz dress last night, I barked at two young people who approached them menacingly to have their photos taken with one of them. Don't touch the  zebras!

Speaking of the Fritz dress....well, I know I get emotional about these things and that this repertoire pushes all my buttons but it really is gorgeous. It is delightful for sure, but it has real heart when it matters. And the music....inventive, emotional, huge at times. Stuart Stratford and the CLS rendered the intermezzo thrillingly and powerfully. As for Anna Leese....I think I am going to let you all decide on that one.....but it is a treat, as is Eric Margiore as Fritz, making his London debut. A smashing reaction from the dress rehearsal audience gives us great hope and we cannot wait.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Almost there

I haven't completed this blog for a wee while...the wedding intervened and things have been hectic at the theatre. It looks in great shape and having the orchestra in the new pit has been great although of course giving them such a bright new toy has led to further expectation! Two sitzprobes have been a joy when it comes to the kind of sound we can now produce.

Both of the first productions look terrific. Stephen Barlow's take on Don Pasquale is as well observed as ever and cuts right to the heart of the piece. Annalise Miskimmon's Fritz is delicious fun and throughout both there is some top class singing. Richard Bonynge is bringing masterful delicacy and insight to the music of Donizetti and Stuart Stratford, fully engaged as he is on his Mascagni odyssey, is drawing all the heart and soul from Fritz...including some revelatory detail that I had previously allowed to pass me by; there really is some quite astounding invention in Mascagni's writing.

This weekend is all about cleaning, sprucing up, raking, clipping and flourishes of invention. And then we are off. Wish us luck.