Introducing the Opera Holland Park 2023 Season
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Constructed from reclaimed and sustainable materials to reflect the natural beauty around the theatre, Opera Holland Park was named ‘London’s greenest theatre’ by the Evening Standard in 2021. The redesigned performance space has proved wonderfully flexible for performances of opera and song recitals, spoken word and family events, and has hosted guest residencies in repertoire from Handel and Mahler to ballet, calypso and steel band. Sightlines and seating were improved in 2022 and the space continues to evolve. Sustainability informs every aspect of the theatre, with food and drink sourced from independent companies within a 50-mile radius of Opera Holland Park.
Five new productions to celebrate the return of summer: Corruption, seduction and toxic masculinity in the court of Mantua. A gingerbread house that conceals a terrible secret. Passion and precarity in the Latin Quarter. The world premiere of an explosive new opera, and the ghostly curse of the Murgatroyd family.
Opera Holland Park’s 2023 Season opens on Tuesday 30 May with new productions of Verdi’s gripping tragedy, Rigoletto, Humperdinck’s cautionary fairy-tale, Hansel and Gretel (sung in German), Puccini’s bittersweet portrait of love and friendship, La bohème, and the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s new opera, Itch, commissioned by Opera Holland Park. In its third co-production with Opera Holland Park, Charles Court Opera returns with a new staging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedy of ancestral ghosts, obligatory wickedness and falsified tax returns, Ruddigore. The City of London Sinfonia returns as resident orchestra for all five productions.
The Season opens with a new production of Rigoletto (30 May – 24 June). Verdi’s excoriating study of lust, innocence and thwarted revenge reunites director Cecilia Stinton and conductor Lee Reynolds (Carmen, 2022). Acclaimed tenor David Junghoon Kim makes his company debut as the Duke of Mantua, with the accomplished Verdian Stephen Gadd (La traviata, 2018 and 2021) taking the title role and former OHP Young Artist Alison Langer (La traviata, 2018 and 2021, Un ballo in maschera, 2019) as Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda. Designs are by Neil Irish, with lighting by Jake Wiltshire.
The Brothers Grimm’s tale of hunger, enchantment, entrapment and rescue has thrilled children and adults for two hundred years. Many adaptations exist but Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera, Hansel and Gretel (10 – 23 June), is by far the most delicious. Sung in German, John Wilkie’s (Il segreto di Susanna, 2019) new production sees the company debuts of conductor Karin Hendrickson and sopranos Meeta Raval and April Koyejo-Audiger, and the return of Laura Lolita Perešivana (Margot la Rouge, 2022), Charlotte Badham (Little Women, 2022), Eleanor Dennis (Così fan tutte, 2018), Paul Carey Jones (Margot la Rouge, 2022) and former OHP Young Artist, Charlotte Bowden (The Marriage of Figaro, 2021). Hansel and Gretel will also be this year’s Opera Holland Park Young Artists production.
Puccini’s evergreen group portrait of friends and lovers in the Latin Quarter, La bohème (19 July – 5 August) returns to Opera Holland Park in a new production from debuting director, Natascha Metherell, with designs by Madeleine Boyd and lighting by Charlie Morgan Jones. George Jackson (Così fan tutte, 2018) returns to conduct a cast led by Katie Bird (L’amico Fritz, 2021), Adam Gilbert (Lakmé, 2015), Elizabeth Karani (Little Women, 2022) and Ross Ramgobin (The Marriage of Figaro, 2021) as the two sets of lovers, with Harry Thatcher (Little Women, 2022) and Barnaby Rea (Iolanta, 2019) as their loyal companions.
Simon Mayo’s best-selling novels, Itch and Itch Rocks, have been transformed into an explosive new opera by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton. Commissioned by Opera Holland Park, Itch (22 July – 4 August) receives its world premiere in a production by Stephen Barlow (The Cunning Little Vixen, 2021) with designs by Frankie Bradshaw. Jessica Cottis (The Cunning Little Vixen, 2021) conducts an exceptional ensemble cast, reuniting many of the singers from Barlow’s five-star 2015 production of Dove’s Flight, with Rebecca Bottone and Eric Greene making their company debuts alongside Adam Temple-Smith as the element-hunting hero, Itchingham Lofte.
Opera Holland Park and Charles Court Opera join forces again with a new co-production of WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s Ruddigore (9 – 12 August) to close the 2023 Season. John Savournin (HMS Pinafore, 2022) directs this supremely silly story of a dynasty of baronets who are cursed to commit daily acts of wickedness and sings the role of Sir Despard Murgatroyd. David Eaton conducts a sensational cast of G&S stalwarts and fresh talent, featuring Matthew Kellett, Stephen Gadd, David Webb, Richard Suart, Llio Evans, Heather Lowe, Heather Shipp, Natasha Agarwal and Caroline Carragher, with designs by Madeleine Boyd.
Nurturing emerging talent: Thirteen alumni of the acclaimed Opera Holland Park Young Artists scheme return as principal artists in the 2023 Season, including directors Cecilia Stinton and John Wilkie, conductor George Jackson, and singers Charlotte Badham, Georgia Mae Bishop, Charlotte Bowden, Phillip Costovski, Elizabeth Karani and Alison Langer, as well as the 2023 Young Artists in Hansel and Gretel.
Sharing our resources: Curated by Julien van Mellaerts and Dylan Perez, Opera in Song returns with a sequence of three concerts across one weekend, featuring Sophie Bevan, Helen Charlston, Eleanor Dennis, Simon Lepper, Nardus Williams, Anna Tilbrook, Dylan Perez, Julien Van Mellaerts and members of the cohort of the 2023 Young Artists. Following last year’s production of Peter and the Wolf, performed to an audience from babes-in-arms to grandparents, and to tie-in with the themes in Hansel and Gretel, Waterperry Opera brings a new family-friendly production of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, a co-production with Opera Holland Park embarking on a UK tour in July and August delivered in partnership with Oxford Festival of the Arts and Lichfield Festival.
The Royal Ballet School also returns to Holland Park for its annual showcase with a rich, diverse programme of dance across five performances in July showcasing the exceptional young dancers across all years of the school, in a celebration of their extraordinary talents and achievements.
Working closely with the community: Opera Holland Park will maintain its annual percentage of accessible and free tickets, including Free Tickets for Under 18s and Over 65s, and reduced tickets for NHS staff.
The 2023 Season sees the return of the Discovery Matinees. These performances are designed to welcome people who want to try opera out for the first time in a relaxed environment, and those who love opera but find the normal theatre-going experience inaccessible.
This year there will be two Schools’ Matinees: a full performance of Hansel and Gretel on 14 June at 12pm, and an introduction to the opera and the instruments of the orchestra on 21 June at 12pm. Workshops will be made available to those schools joining us for the Schools’ Matinees.
The award-winning Inspire Education and Outreach Programme continues to offer an enriching programme for all members of all ages in our community. A new Inspire project launching this year is centred around the commission and premiere of Itch. Linking literature, chemistry and music, ‘Itch: it started with a bang!’ is a multi-disciplinary learning programme for disadvantaged primary schools in Kensington and Chelsea. Opera Holland Park is partnering with the National Literacy Trust and Sublime Science to create a series of workshops and activities to illustrate how different subject areas work together to create something remarkable.
Songs on the Steps, a series of seven free lunchtime recitals for picnickers and passers-by, returns for a second season. Featuring artists from the company, the fortnightly concerts will be held on Fridays at 1pm, from 5 May to 28 July. Our wider community work continues with regular recitals in partnership with Age UK and Open Age. We are rejuvenating our partnership with the Learning Disabilities Resource Centre in North Kensington providing a series of musical and sensory workshops to their service users, creating spaces for communication and creativity in a relaxed and safe environment.
To complement our season’s productions OperaUNITY music and movement sessions return to provide families with young children to enjoy time together at the theatre.
Discovery Matinees: The Discovery Matinees welcome people who want to try opera out for the first time in a relaxed environment, and those who love opera but find the normal theatre-going experience inaccessible. Our first Discovery Matinee on the main stage was in 2019 and we expanded to a full programme for our 2021 and 2022 Seasons, which will continue this year.
What’s on offer: Relaxed Performance – every Discovery Matinee will be adapted to suit people who find it difficult to follow the usual conventions of theatre behaviour, and those who prefer a more relaxed environment. Subsidised tickets – ticket prices are reduced for the Discovery Matinees with prices ranging from £10–50, with half price access tickets available for disabled people and a companion or carer. Audio-description – Discovery Matinees will be audio-described for blind and partially-sighted audiences, with additional commentary explaining the action on stage, including singers’ body language, expressions and movements. Weekend afternoon performances – we hope a 2pm start to each Discovery Matinee will allow families to fall in love with opera together. Dates and times: Hansel and Gretel – 18 June at 2pm / La bohème – 23 July at 2pm / Itch – 30 July at 2pm / Ruddigore – 12 August at 2pm
Schools’ Matinees for Hansel and Gretel: Through annual Schools Matinees Opera Holland Park and Inspire introduce younger audiences to opera with tailored workshops and full performances. Dates and times: Hansel and Gretel Schools’ Matinee – 14 June at 12pm / Hansel and Gretel Schools’ Mini Matinee – 21 June at 12pm