Opera Holland Park / Puccini / Gianni Schicchi / Matthew Waldren / Christine Collins Young Artists’ Scheme
Opera isn’t that difficult to grasp despite what you might think. All you need is a simple idea, an equally simple summary, unobtrusive fitting music and a cast who are up for the challenge ahead.
If you’re new to opera (or trepidatious like I am) then the double bill of Puccini’s Zanetto and Gianni Schicchi as performed by Opera Holland Park are perfect entry points. The operatic equivalent of short stories, both offering spadefuls of deceit.
Schicchi is undoubtedly the more entertaining of the two, in no small part down to the comedy that spills out from it. If you’re unfamiliar with it – and really, there’s one aria you’re almost certainly already aware of – Schicchi is the one to consider.
The performers in Opera Holland Park’s Saturday matinee were drawn from Christine Collins’ Young Artists programme, this its inaugural year, selects up and coming opera performers, and gives them professional experience performing more substantial operative roles on Holland Park’s summer-long pop-up stage.
Someone has a good eye for potential talent at the same time as knowing who to call on to run a tight and productive rehearsal. What we saw on stage for this one-off performance was – don’t anyone think for a moment I’m exaggerating here – breathtaking.
Everyone wanted to be there. Performers and audience alike. Each delivered exactly what was required. There is nothing quite so infectious as seeing a group of ever-hopefuls providing evidence of their training, talent and their enthusiasm for the art-form.
More than that, I was touched by how infectious raw enthusiasm on-stage could be on a rainy Saturday afternoon. And how we unwittingly rely on the likes of Christine Collins’ sponsorship and the knowledge and experience of Opera Holland Park’s producers to help support up and coming talent. .
A nice afternoon. I only hope Opera Holland Park continues in the years to come.