The Wire

The world's greatest print and online music magazine. Independent since 1982


David Toop's opera Star-shaped Biscuit to be performed at Aldeburgh

David Toop's opera, Star-shaped Biscuit, will be performed at Aldeburgh in Snape Maltings this September, in one of Snape's derelict buildings. The opera finds Dora Maar (painter, photographer, lover to Picasso, and model for his Weeping Woman portrait) in a draughty room on a remote island, waiting for a coming apocalypse, reassembling and rewriting her own story as the waters rise.

Toop composed the opera, which is for three voices, a small ensemble of instruments and pre-recorded sound, as part of the Aldeburgh Jerwood Opera Writing Programme. The plot is inspired by a star-shaped box bought at a Parisian flea market by Maar. The box contained a fragment of a biscuit, and was labelled by its previous owner, eccentric French writer Raymond Roussel. The label explained that the biscuit originated from a lunch at the Juvisy observatory in 1923. French Surrealist Georges Bataille later acquired the biscuit via Maar, and wrote that Roussel "obviously wanted to appropriate to himself this edible star in a manner more important and actual than simply by eating it…This strange object signified for me the way in which Roussel had achieved his dream of eating a heavenly star."

The cast includes Lore Lixenberg, Elaine Mitchener, Jamie McDermott, with music performed by Simon Allen, Martin Allen, Hélène Breschand, Sylvia Hallett and Jan Hendrickse. The performance takes place on Saturday 15 September, 7:30pm, and there is a free talk with the artists at Snape's Jerwood Kiln Studio at 6pm. More details here.