16 Dec 2005
Pick of 2005: 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.
Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne (and at the Proms)
A star was born. David McVicar's enormously enjoyable production of Handel's showpiece (set in an imperial imagerie d'Epinal version of Egypt) was distinguished by the British debut of the beautiful young Australian soprano Danielle de Niese. Not only did her voice easily surpass the rigorous requirements of the role of Cleopatra, but she gave, in Kenneth Tynan's term, a high-definition performance - sexy, witty, compelling - at a level rarely seen on an opera stage. The outstanding cast also featured Sarah Connolly as Caesar and a harrowing Angelika Kirchschlager as Sesto. Praise God, it's being revived next summer, when a DVD will also appear.