09 Aug 2005
Tristan und Isolde at Bayreuth
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.
Christoph Marthaler's new production relocates Wagner's masterpiece to an unidentified central European city, a decade or so after the second world war. This has predictably caused ructions in Germany where the Swiss director's work is the subject of ongoing controversy. While the transposition reminds us that the opera does, indeed, take place some years after a protracted military conflict, Marthaler comes close to overstating his case. What for Wagner is a point of detail in an internalised psychodrama becomes instead a central element.