Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a musician at Opera Holland Park? As Orchestra-in-Residence for the 11th year this year, we thought we’d give our lovely readers a teeny insight into the ‘orchestral life’ at this fantastic outdoor summer opera festival. With biscuits, gun shots, evening chills and more, we caught up with one of our longstanding members, Mark Paine (Horn) who told us some of his favourite memories and moments of his experience during his time in the OHP pit over the years (just to clarify, by ‘pit’ we mean the orchestral variety – not a muddy hole in the ground).
How long have you been playing at Opera Holland Park?
I think this is my 11th season can you believe! Well, ever since CLS first started doing it.
And what’s been your favourite opera?
Of course, everyone will say this – it’s terribly difficult to say. But my most memorable, and therefore favourite, has got to be L’amore dei tre re which we did with Peter Robinson. Without interval, it was a continuous crescendo from beginning to end and I guarantee you nobody took a breath in the audience until the final gun shot which finished it. It was just amazing.
I hear biscuits are essential for any performance at Opera Holland Park. How many packets of biscuits do you think the Orchestra have consumed so far this season?
Haha how many packets? Well, probably 3 per night, so according to my mathematical calculations… About 100?! (He’s not far off here – we get through a shocking amount of biscuits!)
What makes performing at OHP different to other opera houses or opera companies that you’ve worked with?
Oh, a million things. The peacocks, the sub-zero temperature… It really is very, very special. It’s a combination of so many things. Great music, great operas, interesting repertoire and such engaged producers as James Clutton and Sarah Crabtree. It’s a fantastic company and a unique experience which is why I make sure I come back every season.
Coming up at Opera Holland Park
Bellini Norma, 19 July – 8 August
Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur, 24 July – 9 August