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It's the hope that kills you

Football parlance is never far from the surface at OHP. "It is the hope that kills you" is one cliche that comes easily to most football fans; it means that it is often better to have no hopes or dreams for your team so that they can't ultimately be dashed.

As we went into October of 2015 as an independent company, I suppose that expression came to mind more often than any other. We have hopes and aspirations for the company - not, it is true, based entirely on speculation, since we have been at it for a while - but there always exists the question, even for manifest optimists like us, that what you predict will happen may not come to pass.

I think it was the author Terry Pratchett who said that opera was just hundreds of things NOT going wrong, and he was pretty much on the money. The most profoundly appealing aspect of opera is that it is indeed a human product and humans are properly dodgy beings, but this is also what makes it so terrifying. And this applies to the audience too, who can be capricious, their decisions and opinions turning on a sixpence. In a season like this one, with five operas involving hundreds of people, it doesn't take much to render what might be brilliant, merely good, or heaven forfend, ordinary. And nobody likes "ordinary" do they? As a collective entity, every effort is made to avoid those wrong turns, to provide the framework, but in the end, it comes down to details and the fervency of the word-of-mouth that results. This year, just when it needed to, everything has fallen nicely into place.

This first year has been a strange experience in many ways, a freedom of thought has been there, but also a more pronounced urgency to the things we have to do to ensure success. We don't want that hope biting us on the arse, you see. Money looms large, and whilst I've never been shy to ask for it, I am being virulent with old friends! Last night, one such was chatting to me about membership and was thinking about our mid-level Friends scheme, Envoys (cost-£260), but in a trice I was at her to become a Benefactor at £25,000. She smiled sweetly at me.

From an audience point of view, we have also seen a return to the sort of numbers we have traditionally been used to but which have been a little less reliable. Our occupancy is back up to 98% whereas in recent seasons it has hovered around 90%. It isn't an apparently huge difference, but it is, and it shows that a revival of the excitement has dramatic effects.


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