Meet the cast and creative teams behind Opera Holland Park’s 2022 Season. Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce our singers, directors, conductors and crews at the heart of the productions this summer.
This summer's production of HMS Pinafore marks the second collaboration with Charles Court Opera, and today we meet Richard Burkhard, who is performing the role of Sir Joseph Porter. Richard has performed several roles with OHP, including Smirnov in the recent filmed production of The Bear, and he tells us about his favourite OHP memories and his dream co-collaborators.
What aspects of your role are you most excited about?
The wonderful paradox between Sir Joseph’s liberal egalitarianism and his innate snobbery is ripe for comedy. Hopefully I’ll have a great costume too.
What interests you about Gilbert and Sullivan and comic opera and operettas?
Gilbert’s wit never ceases to make me laugh and it’s a joy to bring Sullivan’s music to life. In a way their operettas are quite formulaic, rather like panto! For example, we all know the point at which, usually during the joyous Act I finale chorus, someone will storm in and put a spanner in the works. Gilbert and Sullivan understood what it meant to craft a piece of theatre; the pacing, the laughs, the sincere moments are all in perfect balance. On a personal level, I enjoy trying to look at the material in a fresh way, to unburden it from the weight of historical performance. In the end, the comic operas were intended as a good night out, and that is what they are.
What is something surprising about your job that audience members may not know?
That plenty of performers struggle with stage fright… even the best.
Do you have a favourite OHP Memory?
The role of Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur. It’s a beautiful ‘simpatico’ role, with gorgeous music too, and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. I have enjoyed many verismo roles at Opera Holland Park, but these two have been my favourites.
Who is your musical role model?
I don’t have a musical role model as such, but I am really inspired by Italianate singing. Generous, open, bel canto singing on the breath, that I learned from listening to recordings, and under the tutelage of Carlo Bergonzi in Sienna.
What are you looking forward to this OHP season?
Little Women by Mark Adamo.
If you could perform any role, what would it be?
Sweeney Todd or Henry Higgins.
If you could work with any performer or director, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would love to work with Mark Rylance. What a remarkable, remarkable actor.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, musical or otherwise?
On day one of rehearsal, know your music!