Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Opera in the Park
Well, what wonderfully unseasonal weather we are currently enjoying. I know the water-shortage doom-sayers will soon be having a field day, but for the moment (and after last year's washout summer and this year's wintry Easter) it's quite nice to have some unseasonal warmth. Inevitably, we've booked a short break in Spain, where it is currently cooler and raining, so we'll soon feel like we are at home.
But it's at time like this I am thankful that London has so many parks. The closest proper park to me is Holland Park. Although not actually a secret, it is still something of a hidden treasure as, apart from the short frontage on Kensington High Street, it is entirely surrounded by housing. But it has been incredibly busy the last week or so: lots of joggers, tourists and quite a lot of families, too.
One of the nice things about the park is that, although there are some formal gardens, and the small but delightful Japanese garden, much of it is given over to woodland, with rustic picket fences lining the walkways. The gardens are lovely at this time of the year, as the spring flowers give way to the summer blooms, and everything is still bright and green with spring growth.
Next month also sees the annual summer Opera held outdoors here every year: this year the programme is packed, offering Il trovatore (Verdi), La Fille du régiment (Donizetti), the Magic Flute (Mozart), Tosca (Puccini), La Gioconda (Ponchielli) and finishing off with Iolanta by Tchaikovsky in July and August. All this takes place under the larger canopy installed last year, which makes for a more comfortable experience, although the atmosphere is not quite the same as when the stage was fully outdoors. But it is lovely to stroll through the gardens beforehand, and during the interval.
For those not of an operatic frame of mind, there are plenty of other activities during the summer, including lots aimed at children. My favourite is the wonderfully-named 'Baby Boot Camp' - not, apparently, for diminutive delinquents, but for Mums and toddlers to walk around the grounds together. You have been warned!