The 2010 season seems a distant memory already; somebody asked me what productions we had done and I struggled to remember them all. That might be an age thing but it is more likely to have been the fact that we are so embroiled in the next one - and the one after that too. Such is the way of things in the office of an annual festival, the months between the seasons just fly by.
But 2011 is, for so many reasons a year of significance. Britain will be entering a profound period of austerity - or so we expect - and few in the arts are predicting the outcome for sponsorships, ticket sales or pretty much anything at all. This time last year, the recession was an undefined thing for many and not everybody knew how it might affect them. Now, there is some clarity in our world but the public are still waiting - certainly those not in the public sector.The theory that people seek relief from all this misery in entertainment is some reassurance for us all but it wouldn't be wise to take that for granted.
The year ended well for OHP with the Sunday Times naming us as the Best opera company of the year, a huge accolade in the circumstances. Obviously that gives us much to live up to 2011 but I have no doubt we can given the delicious programme (all Italian) and some of the artistic personnel we have on board, starting with the brilliant Stephen Barlow directing the opening production of Don Pasquale, which also sees the return of Richard Bonynge. That first night, as I have frequently pointed out in this blog, arrives with alarming speed and there is much to be done before then. The theatre will see further improvements and changes (that never seems to stop!) and our impact on the aesthetics of the park will be further upgraded which will keep Barrie, the parks manager, happy. Talking of our presence in the park, it is also lovely to inform that Fantastic Mr Fox will be back on the yucca lawn too.
So plenty to keep us busy through January and into the Spring (remember that?)