23 Dec 2005
JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU: THE SORCERER OF THE STAGE
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.
By Olivier Rouvière. Translated by Marcia Hadjimarkos [Goldberg No. 28]
Jean-Philippe Rameau’s (1683-1764) first opera was staged when he was fifty years old; his last, written when he was over eighty, was not given until the twentieth-century.
Rameau’s aesthetics are thus characterised by maturity, density, homogeneity, and chronological clarity. His early works were already accomplished to a high degree and his operas occupied the French stage for more than thirty years, only to disappear after his death. To quote Girdlestone’s incisive summing up, Rameau wrote “more than ninety acts of dramatic music” - that is, three acts, or tableaux, a year - during the last third of his life.