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The first week.....

It was eventful at OHP on Tuesday; the dire warnings of hurricanes and a deluge didn't materialise although if we had a windmill we would likely have generated a couple of kilowatts of energy. Nobody moaned and so fruity Italian expletives remained unslung. There was a demonstration outside too, but in making their point, the participants were dignified and deserve respect and thanks. You will understand that we can't remark upon their cause, but on behalf of the artists, patrons and staff of OHP, their exemplary behaviour on the evening ought to be recognised by us.

The reviews on Wednesday morning gave us all a real lift and The Telegraph led the way with a thundering five-star review. It then quickly became all about opening "Flight" on Saturday: something of a very different flavour to Il trittico but still a remarkable achievement by its composer, Jonathan Dove. It is both funny and moving in equal measure, something opera rarely manages to pull off that well in my view. In fact, Gianni Schicchi from the Puccini triptych is one of the few that achieves such a feat, so maybe they aren't all that different? The ensemble cast has obviously taken to heart the concept of forced togetherness that the opera features and turned in a scintillating, committed performance. The audience felt it too and gave them a loud ovation.

It is always interesting to hear new soundscapes in our theatre; it may seem an abstract notion but the space we perform in plays a huge part in the atmospheres created by our work and one wonders how each new direction we take will "feel" in our large, unrestricted, three dimensional world of no walls and the night sky. Dove's opera is at times a mighty piece of orchestral writing and its musical language of epic adventures to come could have seemed at odds with the ancient surroundings and bucolic loveliness of the park. Credit then to the artistic team for creating a world and set into which we were drawn completely and which - probably more than any I can recall - essentially spits in the face of our 17th century architecture and comes away unscathed. I thought the City of London Sinfonia gave a typically bravura performance too, demonstrating in thrilling fashion (under the baton of Brad Cohen, who is clearly devoted to the piece) their adaptability and musicianship.

We couldn't have set many greater challenges for ourselves than opening with these "four" operas and it is with some satisfaction that the first week draws to a close. There are more challenges to come for sure, but the win ratio is at 100% right now.

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