"Opera" draws links between banks and climate change
By Platform | London, Dec 1 2006
Today sees the launch of "And While London Burns" - a compelling collision of thriller, opera and guided walk that dramatically explores London's Square Mile and its role in climate change.
The 'opera for one' takes the audience on a walking audio adventure through the skyscrapers, corridors and alleyways of the City. Participants, equipped with an mp3-player, unearth the connections between the financial sector and accelerating climate change. The audio tour explores the role of companies including BP, Royal Bank of Scotland and Swiss Re in fueling increasing carbon emissions.
This unusual work catapults the climate crisis from the cold realms of science and economics into the emotional world of culture. And While London Burns leads the headphone-wearing participants on a mystery tour, experiencing the City through the eyes of a tormented financial worker, who encounters Roman ruins, real life City characters, bank trading rooms, buried rivers, and relics from the Great Fire.
Pre-viewing theatre critic Robert Butler writes: "The journey becomes a magical mystery tour, a London walk, a political essay, a short story and a requiem"
James Marriott, co-writer, says: "The theme of this opera is not fiction, and this is emphasised by it being staged in real space, among real characters. This is a soundtrack for the era of climate change".
John Jordan, fellow librettist, continued: "We know the numbers, graphs, models and terrifying predictions of the climate catastrophe that faces us, but until we are truly moved to feel the scale of the crisis, then there is little hope that our society will go beyond the cataclysmic scenario of business as usual."
Composer Isa Suarez's stirring score evokes London's fiery past, oil drenched present and a dark unknowable future and is performed by some of the UK's best contemporary musicians including BBC Jazz award winning clarinettist Alan Barnes and acclaimed cellist Robin Michael. She describes And While London Burns as a "requiem for the warming world."