13 Jun 2006
Grendel, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles
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.
The unenviable task of producing an opera in which the music approaches the expendable has fallen to the Los Angeles Opera. But Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor’s version of John Gardner’s 1971 cult novel has set a standard in a city where spectacular trappings are sometimes confused with profundity. Whatever virtues elude this dramatisation of the Old English Beowulf epic, recounted from the monster’s point of view, sheer theatrical legerdemain is not among them.