11 Dec 2007
Billy Budd, Barbican, London
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 Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 11 December 2007]
It’s hard to remember a closer crop of Britten operas in London. The past week has seen Glyndebourne’s touring Albert Herring, English National Opera’s The Turn of the Screw and concerts of Owen Wingrave and Billy Budd. All this is testimony to Britten’s enduring appeal, but the reasons for it are insufficiently appreciated. Yes, he was brilliant at finding the right musical language to dramatise the action. But he also had a nose for subjects and texts that would suit him – a skill today’s composers seem to have lost.