Mark Paine, CLS Horn Player talks OHP

Posted on: August 3, 2015 in: Uncategorised

2015 marks City of London Sinfonia’s twelfth year as Orchestra-in-Residence at Opera Holland Park, and we’re very sad that it all came to an end this weekend. In celebration of our collaboration with the festival, we caught up with one of our long-standing members, Mark Paine who has been with us from the very beginning.

We can’t believe it’s been 12 years since our (and your!) first production with OHP! What has been your favourite show over the years?

Yes this 2015 season is my twelfth at Opera Holland Park with CLS. I played in the orchestra’s first season back in 2004, starting with Bellini’s Norma, and I have played nearly every opera each summer since then. That makes 64 operas, averaging let’s say eight performances… bringing me to over 500 shows! Definitely a record of some sort. And it has been an absolute privilege and pleasure! I have been a part of some of the best music- and drama-making anywhere, and have been made, by the inspired owners James and Mike, to feel welcome at the very heart of the Opera Holland Park family. With 64 productions to choose from how can I single out one? If pushed I would have to say Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová back in 2009. But there are so many others I could mention. All of them have been in some way incredibly special, even ground-breaking.

From an orchestral musician’s perspective, what is the difference between performing on stage as part of a concert and in the pit as part of an opera?

Over the years I’ve been doing it, Opera Holland Park’s speciality has become the so-called verismo operas that burst while hot onto the Italian operatic scene in the early 20th century. Treading where no other opera company dares, OHP has unleashed onto the UK opera world six or so of these terrifying and unforgettable operas, to great acclaim. It has been wonderful to be a part CLS’s commitment to these spectacular undertakings, and literally to feel every one of us giving that little bit more, responding to the artistic challenge. CLS has matured as an orchestra by so doing.

What advice would you give to a CLS member who is embarking on their first production at OHP?

My advice to a CLS member embarking on their first production at OHP would be to take it incredibly seriously, to give it your absolute maximum. The rewards are rich and our contribution is noted and valued. It’s not just a lovely place to be on a summer’s eve; it’s something quite unique both professionally and personally.

Mark Paine and Joan Sutherland at Opera Holland Park, Summer 2009
Mark Paine and Joan Sutherland at Opera Holland Park, Summer 2009

And finally—any funny anecdotes?

My abiding memory of OHP… getting to meet the late Dame Joan Sutherland, who attended on crutches a performance that Richard Bonynge was conducting for OHP. I have been a fan of hers forever, and I managed to get some private time with her at the post-opera party. Desperate to talk to her about her legendary Lucia di Lammermoor triumphs, I had instead to let her tell me all about her beloved vegetable patch into which she had just fallen and broken both legs. But do you know it turned out better than I could have imagined – I got the true Joan, and a wonderful photo to treasure. Thank you OHP for everything.