Six operas sitting quietly on a table…

Posted on: May 26, 2011 in: Opera Holland Park

We’ve just started rehearsals for our eighth season as resident orchestra at Opera Holland Park. This pile of six operas has been sitting quietly on a desk for the past few months waiting…


To the Opera Holland Park administration they represent the culmination of negotiations with artists, conductors, directors, publishers, costume & set designers and, of course, City of London Sinfonia. To readers of this blog it may mean a night out, with a tasty meal and a glass of wine culminating in a sublime evening of music and drama under the stars (weather permitting!). To orchestra members it is often a late night, not forgetting your glasses and paying bills – although definitely a great way to earn a living!

But to a music librarian the pile represents friends and colleagues, pencils and erasers, lots of sticky tape and a few big boxes.

Each of the operas has its own story – that’s pretty obvious really – but for me the stories are different. For Don Pasquale, the main character has been the guitar – do we need two, as Donizetti has written? Do we replace them with the harp which he gave as an option? Or do I talk nicely to the friend who has been booked as the guitarist and get him to fuse all the dots into one part. Accompanied by tambourine, of course!


L’Amico Fritz should be renamed L’Amico Stuart (the conductor). Between us we’ve sorted out the off stage brass band, erased lots of previous productions’ markings and stuck the pages back in the right order!

The Marriage of Figaro and La Rondine should be straight forward (always a dangerous saying) as both operas have been produced before at Opera Holland Park, they are nice clean sets (that’s librarian speak for no blue pencil) and all the bowings match – the majority of my work is making sure all the violins up-bow and down-bow at the same time!

The final pair, Rigoletto and La Wally, will make up for the lack of time I need to spend on the previous two. Bowings have to be coordinated, off stage bands integrated, cuts inserted. Plus all the Japanese writing removed – yes, all of these operas have a story, that of previous performances, other orchestras, occasionally the same cast, but all representing different things to different people and in different languages.

Jacqui Compton