07 Aug 2005
Barber's Vanessa in Central City
Raphaela Papadakis seems to like ‘playing with fire’. After her acclaimed performance as the put-upon maid, Anna, in Independent Opera’s production of Šimon Voseček’s Beidermann and the Arsonists at Sadler’s Wells last year, she is currently rehearsing for the premiere this week of And London Burned, a new opera by Matt Rogers which has been commissioned by Temple Music Foundation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.
World premieres during Rudolf Bing's 22-year reign at the Metropolitan Opera can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so it is a sign of Samuel Barber's prestige in the 1950s and 1960s that his two main operas are part of the tally.
Anthony and Cleopatra was a notorious flop, thanks mainly to Franco Zeffirelli's overblown production, but what of the earlier Vanessa, an intimate piece set in a Chekhovian household in northern Europe?