Tickets for Opera Holland Park’s 2010 Summer season appear to be flying out of the door since booking opened last week, with phone lines blocked and the website approaching overload in the first few days.

The festival, based in West London, is opening itself up more than ever, with hundreds of tickets free to under 18 year olds and over 60s.

After the launch of its new outreach and audience development scheme, the ‘Inspire Project,’ OHP is offering 1,200 tickets free of charge to people between the age of nine and 18 with a further three hundred available to groups at dress rehearsals. There are also nearly five hundred tickets being offered to people aged 60 or above, again, free of charge.

With many tickets also available at just £10, there are plenty of opportunities for anyone prepared to move fast enough to enjoy OHP’s programme. Details of all schemes can be found on the website or by phoning the box office.

The season opens on 1 June and runs until 14 August. Opera Holland Park has enjoyed much critical acclaim in the past decade and the 2010 season continues to press home the reputation that the company has for late Italian repertoire, best represented by the new production of Zandonai’s rarely-performed Francesca da Rimini.

There’s a unique event celebrating the life and 80th birthday of legendary conductor Richard Bonynge on 13 June, featuring guest performers Sir John Tomlinson, Amanda Echalaz, Lesley Garrett, Majella Cullagh, Julian Gavin, Yvonne Kenny and others. The evening is in aid of OHP Friends charity and MENCAP.

As part of the Inspire Project, OHP will also produce a small scale production of Tobias Picker’s opera of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Nine performances of the opera will take place through July and August on the Yucca Lawn in Holland Park itself and tickets are extremely accessible at £2.50 for children and £5 for adults.

A wide range of operas feature in 2010. Prominent in the season are two productions by the acclaimed director Olivia Fuchs who brings a new production of Debussy’s mesmerising masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande and revives her critically acclaimed 2003 OHP production of Beethoven’s Fidelio. The Debussy reunites her with long time associate, French soprano, Anne Sophie Duprels who won praise for her performances in Fuchs’s 2009 production of Kát’a Kabanová.

Stephen Barlow, the director responsible for one of London’s finest productions of Tosca for many years when he directed it for OHP in 2008 returns in partnership with his Scarpia from that show, Nicholas Garrett in a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Carmen, starring Tara Venditti will partner the Debussy at the start of the season and the Mozart is part of a middle pairing with Fidelio.

The end of the season sees two monumental works – Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and Francesca da Rimini. The Zandonai sees Cheryl Barker make her OHP debut as Francesca.

The City of London Sinfonia is again resident in the pit.

Further information at www.operahollandpark.com or on 0845 230 9769.