Thursday, 7 April 2011

Opera Holland Park 2011

Public booking starts today for Opera Holland Park's new season. Opera Holland Park's Unique Selling Point is that it's informal and fun. What OHP also does best is relatively uncommon repertoire performed with great conviction. So the real must-see this season could be Alfredo Catalani's La Wally.(from 29 July). It's a gorgeously over the top melodrama, pivoting on the soprano part, which pretty much carries the whole opera. Gweneth-Ann Jeffers should be in her element. She's got the personality, the charisma and the voice for those lavish star turn arias. This might be the highlight of the season.

Similarly, Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz will be a draw. Reliable cast - Eric Margiore and Anna Leese, OHP stalwart. I'm going to Puccini La Rondine because the large cast includes many up and coming young talents. It's tough getting ahead in this line, so they need all the support they can get. Lots of other promising names in other operas too but I can't face basic repertoire unless there's something  special. Since Don Pasquale is a new production, directed by Stephen Barlow, has a good cast and is  conducted by Richard Bonynge, it might be interesting.
Singers aren't objects on an assembly line. Just as in any business, you get more from your workers if they feel valued. If anything people management in the arts is even more important than in other businesses, because singers and players "are" the product. Committment and enthusiasm are intangible, but when they're missing, the difference is so obvious it can sink a show. Because nobody's making a fortune at OHP, everyone seems to pull together. The choruses at OHP, for example, tend to work well as a unit even though the individual voices aren't much.

Let's face it, for under £60 you are never going to get Tebaldi or Pavarotti. But on the other hand, prices like these approach the cheaper seats at ROH or ENO.While productions in these bigger houses may often disappoint, they are in a different league. This is the quandary OHP faces. It needs prices high enough to survive, but it doesn't have the sheer volume bigger houses can produce.  Some people go to OHP in evening dress to do their toff thing. But what is the point of tuxes and gowns in a municipal park in a city suburb where grubby kids run around and the toilets stink? If they're so rich, why not contribute more ? Some in fact do so privately, but noblesse oblige was once a better indicator of class than wealth.  I was reading about a woman whose legacy provides cheap seats for pensioners and students (though not all of whom are poor). She's long dead but her memory lives on.
HERE is a link to last year's OHP La forza del destino. Search this site for more on the singers and Stephen Barlow


Michael Volpe said...

although you do paint rather a dire picture of one of the most beautiful parks in London!

Doundou Tchil said...

When one has one's billions, one has ones own park ! (HUGE grin)