The Fire of Olympus; or, On Sticking It To The Man

2019

“Olympus! – a free, noble, wealthy, proud, and independent land, with enlightened values, wisely-led, and unrivalled in power and culture… or so the public are led to believe.”

The Fire Of Olympus; or, On Sticking It To The Man is a radical re-imagining of Greek mythology, focusing on the legends of Prometheus and Pandora: the theft of Fire from Zeus and the consequent divine punishments. It is set in a parallel universe to our modern world, and is very resonant with current issues.

Featuring Zeus as the President of Olympus, and the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus as prankster-activists (both played by women), it's filled with drama, passion, politics, tragedy, and comedy.

Musically, The Fire Of Olympus draws on the Italian operas of Handel, although it's sung in English, with a libretto by the composer and Anthony Peter. The style of much of the opera draws inspiration from Handel's music, and features a recitative-and-aria "opera seria" structure. The players and singers are encouraged to ornament and embellish within the neo-Baroque style, and the singers in particular are given plenty of opportunity to show off virtuosic technique. However, the opera also features music unlike anything that Handel composed - in particular in the Chorus...

“The music is memorable - so are the strikingly costumed characters, their voices superb. Recognisably Handelian but with some most touching and inventive refinements ... telling and moving. A work I would like to hear again.”

— Seen & Heard International

Characters

  • Prometheus: an Activist (mezzo-soprano)

  • Epimetheus: his brother, also an Activist (mezzo-soprano)

  • Zeus: the President of Olympus (baritone)

  • Hephaestus: his Special Adviser (tenor)

  • Pandora: his Assistant (soprano)

  • Chorus (pre-recorded)

Feature Film

The Fire Of Olympus was filmed as a radical, cinematic "film of an opera", appearing in cinemas and festivals throughout 2020 and beyond, and available to stream on MarqueeTV

Prometheus in 'The Fire of Olympus'
Prometheus in 'The Fire of Olympus'

One Thousand Voices

In the months leading up to the production run of The Fire Of Olympus, Radius Opera visited many choirs and choral societies to run workshops on this opera. The participants learned to sing parts of the opera, but also took part in a range of improvised and creative exercises. These were recorded, and pieced together, to form a "digital chorus" involving over a thousand voices. This "digital chorus" then features in the opera, played back in surround sound, and appearing at key moments in the drama - functioning just like a Greek chorus.

Duration

2 hours (Act 1: 65 minutes, Act 2: 55 minutes)

Instrumentation

Five singers, pre-recorded chorus; orchestra: oboe, strings (violins I and II, violas, solo cello, contrabass), harpsichord

First performance

Tour with The Radius Opera Company, September to December 2019

Video

One Thousand Voices - a film about the workshops with choirs, building the giant virtual chorus for 'The Fire Of Olympus'

Request a score / parts

If you would like to see a score and/or require a set of parts for this music, please contact me.