2020 was supposed to be the farewell season for Michael Volpe, after announcing his retirement in December of 2019, a full season was planned, his final swan song from this renowned opera institution in place. Then came March and the world was sent into turmoil with a pandemic which halted all events, especially hitting the arts. It quickly became apparent the final season was going to be very different to that which was planned, and although the company managed to hold some summer opera, it was not the farewell Michael had wanted, ‘although I was asked by friends if I would stay on to see the company through to another season, I was adamant my 31year legacy had reached its end point. It was time. Opera Holland Park needed to disassociate itself from me and create its own identity, otherwise what have the last 31 years been for? It has to stand alone and thrive – and it will. I also needed to change the rhythm of my life, too many summers spent out every night at events, I welcomed the change.’
Having had a few months off, in lockdown, it seemed very apparent to Michael that opera needed to have a step change. It needed to move on to a attract a new generation and when the opportunity to join Iford Arts arose, it seemed the perfect route to make some cultural changes in an industry which has long been stuck to its roots. ‘We need to focus on artists not companies. We need to find exciting venues and think outside the box to both attract new talent and a new audience’. Michael explains the year ahead will be a challenge for all the arts as we come out of lockdown, but the future is bright, ‘this year Iford Arts will focus on putting on some events which we know our audience will love, to re-engage after this period of abstinence. We simply cannot wait and I think everyone feels the same. Then hold the front page for next season, as we are planning some extraordinary things to elevate how we enjoy and create Opera, it’s really exciting. The team are working hard right now to plan a season you won’t want to miss but the methodology is really something different I feel’.
Alongside opera, Michael collaborates with local charity NOVA which works to promote opportunity for adults and families through education, support, advice & driving social change within the community. The charity resonates well with Michael who wrote ‘Noisy At The Wrong Times’ which is an uplifting story of his childhood which depicts a boy who was also given a chance. A book which was written primarily as a charity project for Holland Park but quickly picked up by a publisher and shared with the world.
Work Life Balance
‘We have to realise’ Michael continues, ‘that working full time should not be an endless slog, a costly or time-consuming commute, an overspill into the weekend. We have to realise there is a work life balance which can be achieved where you manage your own time, create time and space for the things which make you happy, as well as achieving all the work success as efficiently as you could in an office. In fact, I was always very flexible with people working from home at OHP, even before the pandemic. Michael started looking for a workspace chair more recently, after suffering back pain from hours sat on his kitchen dining chair.
The Ovair Aria
‘For the last year I’ve been suffering from all kinds of aches and pains as a result of poor posture. My ribs hurt from core tension, neck pain and hip pain all because my kitchen chair had no support for my spine and promoted a really bad sitting position. I suppose years of rugby and contact sports injuries doesn’t help that! Since receiving the Ovair chair my aches and pains have reduced enormously . I love the fact it makes you sit in a better position, I feel my spine is supported and therefore I am not constantly trying to find a more comfy position. I am comfortable all of the time, especially since it has a memory foam seat! It really makes a difference, I just wish I had bought one years ago.
If you work from home for any amount of the working week, you need to invest in something like this, it’s a game changer.’
Opera Holland Park
For further Opera inspiration from Michael, watch his YouTube videos here: