This September, Faster Than Sound presents their latest project: a new opera composed by David Toop – ‘Star-shaped Biscuit’. Faster Than Sound is Aldeburgh Music’s experimental series, linking music and the digital arts, with five weeklong residencies each year: ‘One of the most exciting platforms to appear in the UK in recent years’. (FT.com) Their latest venture is presented in a derelict building at Snape Maltings, the world premiere of David Toop’s unique, electronic opera. The opera is named after a biscuit kept in a silver casket by French author Raymond Roussel as a momento of his meeting and lunch with astronomer and spiritist Flammarion, in 1923. Upon researching the project, David Toop discovered that the biscuit was bought by Picasso’s muse and lover, Dora Maar, at a Parisian flea market.Through this connection, the story of the opera reflect the life of Dora, and her deep depression after the ending of her relationship with Picasso, yet all the while set in a different era – on the precipice of an environmental apocalypse, with Dora as the only human survivor. As one of her few possessions, the biscuit becomes a fixation and fetish.
On a remote island, Dora waits for apocalypse, joined by two invisible spirits, Euphrosine and Seabrook, who encourage Dora to reconcile with her past. Her ultimate decision is whether to eat the magical star-shaped biscuit to transform into a ghost of history, or face her future in the apocalypse alone.
The opera features Elaine Mitchener, Jamie McDermott and Lore Lixenberg, with Simon Allen, Martin Allen, Hélène Breschand, Sylvia Hallett and Jan Hendrickse.
Of the work’s development, Toop said:“I initially considered Roussel’s Locus Solus for the basis of an opera, but while researching, was drawn to a footnote about Dora Maar and began to investigate her life in more depth. The Jerwood Opera writing programme at Aldeburgh inspired me to explore Maar as the subject for an opera. All of us involved in developing this work are really excited to be able to present it to an audience at Faster Than Sound. The setting of Snape’s landscape and one of the Maltings’ derelict buildings will conjure up the destroyed world that the characters inhabit and enhance the atmospheric performance.”
Star-Shaped Biscuit, Saturday September 15th, 7.30pm, Derelict Building 9, Snape Maltings. Tickets here.
(Written on August 8, 2012 )