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Off we go

So the gravel was fine, but I did get a bit arsey about some clippings that a gardener had forgotten to clear up after a bit of topiary work; un-raked gravel is one thing but gravel peppered with bright green yew is quite another. I coped - just - with that, as well as with the jolly gravel observations of several wags. I asked for that of course.

The first night, as my previous blog suggested, is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Everybody is naturally on (h)edge (bloody yew) but the show went well and the reaction was good so a glass or two of Edradour, Scotland's finest, were taken. Tonight, Fanciulla plays to the first full "normal" audience of the season and on a warmish Friday night, with Puccini's glorious music we should get the full magical effect of OHP in flight.

Il barbiere di Siviglia had its dress rehearsal last night and enjoyed a really terrific reaction so hopes are high that the 9,000 odd patrons booked in to see it will have a whale of a time. Neil Irish has done a hell of a job with the set - it might be the biggest we have ever seen at OHP actually - but stage crew are full of (admiring) hatred for him and have effigies scattered throughout the backstage area that they can kick or stab with pins as they walk past. One is trussed up in gaffer tape so it can't fight back.  The production is particularly poignant for us because its director, Ollie Platt, and conductor Matt Waldren came through the Christine Collins Young Artist programme; she would have been in raptures at their achievements.

On other more important matters, today is the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings. For several reasons I have become especially interested in WWll in recent years and find all commemorations of it deeply moving. OHP does a lot of work at Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and the old soldiers there are a remarkable bunch for whom humility is a key attribute (natural for them but instinctively adopted by those of us who encounter them).  I will end this blog with the words of an old soldier, speaking to the BBC yesterday. Its matter-of-factness strengthens the gravity of the events he describes and whilst I may joke about the aesthetics of a theatre, the relevance of his words to all of us is not lost on me in the least.

"We charged up the beach, cut down the wires and everything else to get through the fences and headed up towards the radar station," he said. 

"We had a wee scuffle here and a scuffle there and then took over the radar station. Anybody that didn't want to come along got shot."

When it was suggested he made it sound easy, he answered: "It was".


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