30 Oct 2005
Software idea could benefit opera
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.
Opera, the highest of high art, is decidedly low-tech, at least as far as how a production is managed. Stage crews build sets without knowing an actor's height and weight. And rebuild them when Juliet turns out to be 250 pounds instead of 150.
Stage managers and bevies of assistants photocopy hundreds of pages of scores with hand-scribbled directions for lighting and sound and re-copy them when the directions change. Actors generally work from memory and hand written notes about their stage directions.