03 Aug 2005
Britten's Paul Bunyan at 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.
Before there was Glimmerglass or St Louis or even Santa Fe, there was Central City, a haven for summertime opera in America since 1932. The opera house in this quaint, former mining town near Denver is older still, built for music-loving Welsh and Cornish miners in the 1870s. With its charming trompe l'oeil decor and 756 seats - Beverly Sills sang Aida here - it offers further evidence that the economics of opera in America do not mandate gargantuan spaces.