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...

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 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.

Premiere

Tour with The Radius Opera Company (click link for more info, videos, production photos, etc)

Burnley: Mechanics
Saturday 14th September 2019
Huddersfield: Lawrence Batley Theatre
Saturday 21st September 2019
Manchester: RNCM Opera Theatre
Saturday 28th September 2019
York: Joseph Rowntree Theatre
Saturday 12th October 2019
Stoke-on-Trent: The Repertory Theatre
Wednesday 30th October 2019
Todmorden: The Hippodrome
Saturday 9th November 2019
Leeds: Film Screening (University of Leeds International Series)
Saturday 16th November 2019

Duration

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

Instrumentation

  • 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)

Orchestra: oboe, strings (violins I and II, violas, solo cello, contrabass), harpsichord