Opera Holland Park
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Opera Holland Park is a summer opera company which produces an annual season of opera performances, staged under a temporary canopy in front of the remains of Holland House, a Blitz-damaged building in Holland Park, west central London. The venue is fully covered but is open at the sides. The company's 2017 Season sees performances of Puccini's La rondine, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Janacek's Kat'a Kabanova, Leoncavallo's Zaza as well as Royal Ballet School Summer Performances, all taking place between 1 June and 29 July.
The canopy was installed in 1988 and was initially used for a variety of music. Concerns about noise levels led to an increasing focus on opera from 1989, with productions staged by a variety of small opera companies. For the 2007 season, the theatre was expanded by the addition of a spectacular new canopy underneath which is new seating and other improved facilities. There are now 1,000 seats.
As part of a drive to improve artistic standards "Opera Holland Park" was established in 1996 to produce all future productions, and in recent years the company has enjoyed a long string of hits with major achievements in productions of more obscure repertoire such as Mascagni's Iris, Cilea's L'arlesiana, and many others. It is now considered one of the most accomplished non-state opera companies in the UK. The resident orchestra is the City of London Sinfonia.
Each season around half a dozen operas are staged. Most of them are well known classics but the company has developed a reputation for producing works from the verismo repertoire and a very adventurous production policy. They are sung in the original language and surtitling is used.
The venue and company are famed for a warm informality coupled with serious artistic intent and dedication. Pricing is determinedly accessible and the company even has a "Free Tickets for young people" scheme that offers 1200 free seats to people aged between 7 and 18 years old and nearly five hundred for those aged 60+. All of these tickets are for normal performances, not rehearsals. Opera Holland Park was named Best Opera Company 2010 by The Sunday Times (London).
Management and organization
Until October 2015, the company was a part of, and received financial backing from, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, plus a number of corporate sponsors, including Investec Wealth & Investment, the season's title sponsor.
The company became an independent charity in October 2015, receiving a significant final grant settlement from The Royal Borough. A new board was installed, chaired by Charles Mackay CBE, former chairman of Historic Royal Palaces.
There is also a vibrant Friends organisation attached to the company who raise significant funds for development and who perform a central educational role as well. There are over 2000 Friends of the company as well as nearly 100 elite donors called "Ambassadors" and a new troup called Founders, created on independence from the Royal Borough.
The company is characterised by the two people who run it: Michael Volpe (General Director) and James Clutton (Director of Opera).
In 2007 the company produced Italo Montemezzi's thrilling rarity L'amore dei tre re to great acclaim. The production was regarded as one of the most exciting in the company's history. In the same season OHP's production of Janáček's Jenůfa was widely regarded as one of the best realisations of the opera ever seen in London.
In March 2008, Opera Holland Park's 2007 season was nominated in the category of Concert Series and Festival in the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards.
The 2009 season included Janáček's Káťa Kabanová and Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, while 2010 plans included Pelléas et Mélisande and Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini in addition to four or five standard operas each season. The 2011 season includes productions of three major Italian rarities, Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz, Puccini's La Rondine and Catalani's La Wally.
In 2009 Nicholas Paget-Brown launched the Cultural Placemaking initiative as part of the Council's Arts and Culture Policy. He explained that the plan was to build on the work of Opera Holland Park and Leighton House Museum to develop a broader coherent strategy to encourage developers to consider the Council's creative and artistic ambitions when working on a development project.
- "OHP named Best Opera Company". Rbkc.gov.uk. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2015-08-14.