“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...
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 by Tim Benjamin, 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.
Tour with The Radius Opera Company
2 hours (Act 1: 65 minutes, Act 2: 55 minutes)
Orchestra: oboe, strings (violins I and II, violas, solo cello, contrabass), harpsichord