18 Apr 2006
Wagner, Who Wanted Merely Everything
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 JOSEPH HOROWITZ [NY Times, 16 April 2006]
THE relationship of music and drama, note and word, is a central quandary in opera. Which comes first? Richard Wagner, in his writings and stagings both, insisted on treating singing as a kind of heightened speech. He was not immune to beautiful tone, but it was not his main concern. For the first "Ring of the Nibelungs," at his 1876 Bayreuth Festival, his last advice to his singers included the charge: "Distinctness! The big notes will take care of themselves; the little notes and the text are the chief things."