How Alice became opera's answer to the Sex Pistols

In his latest dispatch, Michael Volpe finds that he's become a rock'n'roll rebel

Amonth of ups and downs with difficulties throughout the production stable. Classic FM turned us into the operatic version of the Sex Pistols by banning us from the station; well, not so much banned but judged our single from the opera Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ("I Flew High in My Dreams") to be "not for them". The rock'n'roll rebel that lurks within us means we prefer to think of it as being banished (well, it never did Johnny Rotten any harm). I am certain that if promoting records was my primary role in life, I would be quite the tyrant and that producers and radio bosses would hate me. Even more than they already do, in fact.

Tickets for Alice went on sale for a few moments but were then gone in a trice and so the "work arounds" have begun, with distant acquaintances miraculously finding our phone numbers. The capacity of the Yucca Lawn (where we are to perform the production) is limited to 150 so inevitably there are lots of unhappy people out there who now shout down the blower at me and demand to be allowed to buy tickets.

We can only draw satisfaction from the desire of children and their families to engage with something a little more challenging than the Tweenies (nothing at all wrong with the Tweenies I must add) and the stadium tour beckons – or at least a second season.

Running parallel to the intensifying work on Alice ("final" vocal scores are now in the hot and sweaty palms of the cast) is the small matter of five major new productions on the main stage and the mammoth build to provide the theatre itself. The variety of issues facing us on a daily basis grows ever broader. Yesterday, amid discussions on sponsorship, marquee linings, lighting rig extensions and bar paint, we talked about cushions for the Alice audience, buggy parks, feedback forms and how best to encourage parents to "toilet" their smaller children before the performances.

At one point, I could have sworn producer James mentioned the designs for the show, but I can't be sure. We can't wait for production rehearsals to begin in a few weeks when we really begin to see life breathed into Alice.

For James, life is dominated by a plethora of issues that fluctuate between taking us to triumph or averting disaster. All festivals are in this position, where catastrophe is lurking at our shoulder almost permanently. We are probably all crisis junkies deep down, bereft without at least some threat constantly in our midst but rarely would we admit it. Perhaps the threat is part of the process; if it were easy, it would be boring, the work less vibrant and we know audiences like to sometimes share in the jeopardy.

As we know, the show does have to go on, not waiting nor pausing for anything, including crushing personal tragedy or crisis, which virtually all of our team have experienced in the past 18 months. Even the death of my brother Matteo a few days ago finds synchronicity with Alice since it is our composer Will Todd's exquisite arrangement of "Amazing Grace" that I wish to be sung at his memorial. Art, song, film – whatever – often signpost major events in all our lives and so for some of us at OHP, Alice will for ever be "the year when...."

We aren't martyrs to our craft, nor soldiers on the battlefield and we would all rather do without the misery, yet in creating another world for others to experience or be enriched by, we often find ourselves setting aside our own. After all, finding a good counter tenor for the Cat waits for no man and I doubt we would have it any other way.

Michael Volpe is general manager of Opera Holland Park. Follow @mikeohp and @aliceoperaohp

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home