Michael Volpe is the general director and founder of Opera Holland Park (OHP), one of the UK’s best-loved opera festivals.
From a working-class background, Volpe has demonstrated how something as seemingly rarefied as opera can be presented in a visceral and convincing way to those who have never considered it. His career has been almost entirely based on that evangelical zeal and desire to introduce everybody to the art form. Volpe is an advocate of the giovane scuola repertoire of late Italian operas, and OHP has been immensely successful in presenting these works for nearly 25 years.
Volpe is from an Italian immigrant family and has three children, two of whom have operatic names. He attended one of the most interesting and experimental schools of postwar Britain: Woolverstone Hall in Suffolk. The school challenged its pupils to think outside of their social backgrounds and to explore and utilize their natural intelligence while exposing them to high art at an early age, inculcating them all with a sense of discovery.
Volpe is a fervent advocate of cultural engagement for all. He is also a regular contributor to newspapers and websites, and a commentator on opera and the arts in general. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in June 2016.
He has also made two highly successful films that follow unlikely participants on their journey into opera. His recently released film Into the light features UK veterans and focuses on mental health.
He is the author of Noisy at the Wrong Times, a biography covering his time in Woolverstone. The book was included among The Sunday Times 100 Biographies to Love.