Category Archives: Opera Holland Park 2014

OHP Behind the Scenes: Concert Management

With only a few final performances to go, Opera Holland Park is nearly over for another year and so our Concert Management team must move on to new (probably indoor and peacock-lacking) endeavours. But what exactly did they see and do during their time there?

As part of our OHP Behind the Scenes blog series, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the kinds of things they got up to, and here’s the evidence:

 

Despite its resemblance to a tombola machine, this is in fact the wind machine for La Fanciulla del West. (We were asked at least twice per performance what it was!)

 

At the Amadeus Centre with conductor Steuart Bedford (no, the horn player at the back is not asleep, just stretching his legs!)

 

Glyn Matthews setting up the tubular bells ready for the performance of  Turn of the Screw

 

Watching a vertically-challenged Minute Maestro conduct the Orchestra at the Opera Holland Park Family Open Day.

 

Pumping up the harp trolley’s flat tyres. Luckily, most of our French Horn players are keen cyclists, and Chris Newport had a bike pump handy, making the job a lot easier.

 

Weekly trips to Tesco to buy tea-making ingredients and plenty of biscuits for hungry musicians…

 

Marking string bowings backstage!

 

Is it a tuba? A trombone? No, this is Stephen Wick playing a cimbasso in rehearsal ready for Bellini’s Norma!

 

Sharing is caring for CLS & OHP behind the scenes! One of the musicians brought in some aubergine plants – needless to say, they were taken up very quickly!

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OHP Behind the Scenes – The Musicians

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).

 

(C) Fritz Curzon
(C) Fritz Curzon

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?

Shopping trip for biscuits for OHP!
Shopping trip for biscuits for OHP!

 

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.

 

(C) Fritz Curzon
(C) Fritz Curzon

Coming up at Opera Holland Park

Bellini Norma, 19 July – 8 August

Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur, 24 July – 9 August

Opera Holland Park so far…

The summer months mean one thing and one thing only here at the City of London Sinfonia: Opera Holland Park! Marking our 11th consecutive year as orchestra-in-residence at “London’s Glydebourne”, this year’s season has got to be one of the finest. With so many fantastic productions to choose from –Britten’s haunting Turn of the Screw, Rossini’s ever-popular comedy La Barbiere di Siviglia and Bellini’s wonderful Norma…– and all amidst the leafy glades one of the most beautiful parks in West London, we couldn’t recommend the festival enough, even if only to witness the resident peacocks cooing along to the catchiest of arias or the tent-like theatre built upon the fragmentary ruins of Holland House.

Four weeks in and so far we’ve seen everything from counts, gold-miners, Sheriffs, Vegas-style polka saloons, doctors, barbers, disguise, love, lust, gambling, mischief and plenty of pizzazz. We also mustn’t forget the fantastic singers who really make the festival what it is. It’s definitely been a hectic, but very exciting, few weeks so far, and to think we are only half way through the season! Here are some of our favourite pieces of feedback from Opera Holland Park so far, along with some of the fantastic press it’s been getting:

La Fanciulla del West 

Stuart Stratford conducted the City of London Sinfonia on peak form“, David Gutman, Classical Source, 5 June

Conductor Stuart Stratford demonstrates an impeccable ear for the detail of superb Puccini’s orchestral writing“, George Hall, The Stage, 4 June

★★★ “Barlow just lets Puccini get on with it, which is probably why it works so well.”, Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 4 June

With the expert City of London Sinfonia, in their raised pit, on constant display, Puccini’s score was spread out before us in all its ingenuity. On so many occasions the sonic effects or rhythmic brilliance prompted the thought ‘Puccini? Surely not!’.” – Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 8 June

★★★★”The overture starts with a blinding flash of light, a fierce bass note and an exhilarating crash of wild, sweet music from the City of London Sinfonia.” – Anna Picard, The Times, 5 June

Opera Holland Park has a knack of discovering young singers with big voices.” – Free News Pos, 8 June

★★★ “Puccini’s girl of the golden West has at last found the popularity she always deserved” – Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, 4 June

 

La Barbiere di Siviglia

★★★★”Matthew Waldren’s conducting is highly intelligent and controlled, and generates some beautiful playing from the City of London Sinfonia.” –  musicOMH, 14 June

The warm tone of Kitty Whately as a pretty and determined Rosina was well matched by the strong vocal power of Nicholas Lester as Figaro, and their late Act I dialogue Dunque io son … was a delight.” – Mark Ronan, 15 June

★★★★ “Lam had a confident control of the complex rhythms in Rossini’s music, with some nicely steady ensembles and a highly infectious elan. The City of London Sinfonia responded with some vibrantly vivid yet controlled playing.” – Planet Hugill, 16 June

★★★★”The City of London Sinfonia responded well to Matthew Waldren’s baton, his apt tempo choices and a persuasive musical momentum compensating for an absence of pointillist detail. The strings were on gleaming form...” – Whats On Stage, 12 June

 

Coming up at Opera Holland Park

Britten The Turn of the Screw, 1-12 July

Bellini Norma, 19 July – 8 August

Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur, 24 July – 9 August

 

All photos taken by Fritz Curzon, photographer-in-residence at Opera Holland Park.