24 Mar 2010
Take a Play, Then Adorn It With 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.
By Allan Kozinn [NY Times, 24 March 2010]
The English were wary of the Continental taste for opera in the 17th century, but they liked the idea of adorning plays with music. What composers and theater producers came up with is a curious compromise that Roger North, a writer at the time, called “semi-opera.” In this hybrid form, a play is presented straightforwardly, as spoken text, with masques — parades of songs, choruses and dance — interspersed within each act.