Lucia di Lammermoor - Opera Holland Park, 12 June 2012
There's nothing to beat open-air opera on a warm summer's evening. But the winter coats and woolly hats were out in force on Tuesday night for the chilliest start to a Holland Park season that I can remember.
On the plus side, the normally raucous peacocks were frozen into silence – and at least it had stopped raining.
It's perhaps not surprising that performances were generally subdued, with only Aldo di Toro as Edgardo mustering up any hot-blooded passion. Fatykhova's descent into madness was merely primly effective. But she did sing cleanly and accurately, which is more than you can say for many exponents of the role.
It crossed my mind that restraint was perhaps part of Olivia Fuchs' production concept, which was otherwise hard to discern. The red gloves sported by the wedding guests suggested the tragedy was rooted socially in the inter-family feud, not in personal psychology - that everyone had blood on their hands. But this idea wasn't developed. The fissured granite slab that formed the backdrop to Jamie Vartan's set looked vaguely Scottish, but the Stalag Luft Holland Park created by mobile chicken wire fences was anybody's guess.
The frigid air was no impediment to the fleece-swathed orchestra, who seem to get better and better each year. Stuart Stratford's tempos were lively enough to stop their fingers dropping off, and the mad scene was enhanced by the spectral quiver of the glass harmonica. If only the wind whistling through the tent flaps had been that eerily evocative.
If you're going to Holland Park and the weather hasn't picked up, don't be embarrassed to take thick coats, blankets, hot water bottles, etc - you won't be the only ones.