Eleanor joined OHP this summer as Major Gifts and Philanthropy Manager. In the run up to the 2023 Winter Gala, Eleanor tells us about her first summer here, her belief in the role of philanthropy in the arts and what she might like to see on the OHP stage one day...
Can you tell us about your new role at Opera Holland Park?
I am thrilled to be the Major Gifts and Philanthropy Manager at Opera Holland Park. It is a very varied role, and every day is different which I love. I am really enjoying getting to know all of the supporters who have made OHP what it is, and look forward to meeting many more over the coming months! It’s great to be able to engage with so many interesting people, support the art form of opera, and be part of such an amazing team that produces world class productions.
How did you get to the position you are in now?
My previous role was at the Royal Opera House in their philanthropy team, but when this position became available at OHP I knew I had to throw my hat into the ring! Before then I had quite a varied journey, working for a time as an Actors’ Agent’s assistant, a peripatetic singing teacher, and as an actor before the pandemic struck in March 2020.
Can you tell us about your first OHP season?
The 2023 OHP season was absolutely tremendous! It was fantastic to see such a variety of operatic repertoire all on the same stage within such a short time frame. To be able to see Itch and La bohème in tandem was such a delight. It was also a complete honour to get to take a further sneak peek backstage with the role and production supporters and to meet such talented singers and creative teams.
What are you looking forward to in the next year and beyond?
I am really looking forward to the production syndicate kicking off which will support the double bill of Il Segretto di Susanna and Pagliacci. I had not heard of Il segreto di Susanna before I started at OHP but have heard nothing but good things about it since joining so I am so excited to see it. Pagliacci is one of my favourite operas, and combined with David Butt Philips as Canio, I think it will be truly special to be a part of.
Is there an opera that you’d most like to see on the OHP stage?
I love so many operas, but I adore jazz and so if I had to choose just one I think it would have to be Porgy and Bess by Gershwin. I also love early opera with Handel’s Rinaldo and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas being particular favourites, so am really looking forward to Acis and Galatea in the 2024 season.
What do you believe the role of Philanthropy is for an organisation like Opera Holland Park? Why is it important to be giving to the arts right now?
Giving to the arts is perhaps more important now than it has ever been, following a disastrous combination of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis, and growing uncertainties around global conflicts. The arts as a whole is an industry that is underfunded and overlooked and as such we, as art lovers, need to gather and support our arts organisations so that they can continue to function and grow. The term ‘philanthropy’ applies to anyone who gives money as a way to help an organisation, and I have been blown away by the generosity of the Opera Holland Park supporters. Without people giving philanthropically, we simply cannot continue to produce our outstanding operas, invest in Young Artists, or reach out to our local community through our Inspire work. I would like to thank each and every supporter of Opera Holland Park for helping us make this all possible.
Can you tell us about something you enjoy doing outside of work and opera?
I love seeing live theatre of any kind, whether that be a play, musical, stand up comedy, cabaret or live music. I visited Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival after the 2023 OHP season and was in my personal heaven!
I also like to be creative, and enjoy turning my hand to art and crafts – although I am far from being accomplished! I used to be a decent pianist and singer, and I quite like to tickle the ivories from time to time as a way to relax.
Interview by Lucy Hicks Beach