The orangery, the giant chess set, the war-ravaged ruins, the cricket pitch, the tennis courts, the Kyoto Garden, the Fukushima Memorial Garden, the abundant squirrels and peacocks that call it home… There’s no shortage of reasons why Holland Park was attracting far more London-based visitors than tourists long before the pandemic.
Now, there’s an even more compelling reason not just to visit Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s largest park: Opera Holland Park, a series of open-air opera performances held in a 400-seat marquee auditorium with picnic areas and a mezzanine terrace.
The performances so far aren’t short of critical acclaim – Broadway World earlier this month praised a “delicious and diverting” interpretation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, which followed Verdi’s La Traviata and Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in the Summer schedule. And, for the final night on 17th August, Fifth Door Ensemble – a new, innovative collective performing epic masterworks of the repertory in a chamber format – will perform a chamber version of Gustav Mahler’s masterpiece Das Lied von der Erde (£25-45), conducted by Thomas Blunt with mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston and tenor Charne Rochford.
Introduced by Stephen Johnson and Anna Picard, Mahler’s tragic-yet-exquisite symphony – which features juxtaposing themes of darkness and light, despair and joy – has been arranged for 15 instruments by Arnold Schoenberg and Reiner Riehl.
Look out, too, for ‘Carnival Culture In The Park’ on Saturday 21st: an evening of Caribbean Jazz, scheduled to coincide with Notting Hill Carnival weekend, featuring the Engine Room Collective and steelpan musicians including Andre White, Leon ‘Foster’ Thomas, Samuel Dubois, Carlene Etienne and Deborah Eden.