From The Tempest to The Enchanted Island
plot mishmash of Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream as container for entirely unrelated excerpts of glorious music from Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others. New characters dominate (Sycorax, long-dead in Tempest, leads the drama, and Neptune turns up – both roles for drawcard singers). The cast and plot are loaded by the Athenian lovers from The Dream  and Ariel, complicated enough in Tempest, has to double as Puck. So forget your Shakespeare!  ‘Spoken by Shakespeare’s Miranda, “O brave new world” glimmers with irony as she hails visitors from the old world. In Sams’ libretto, it is a catchphrase bandied about for cheap laughs.’ (Classical Review) ‘Prospero … is not Shakespeare’s more or less exemplary alter ego, victim of his own goodness at the hands of an amoral cynical brother, but someone who took over Sycorax’s island and has oppressed and controlled her (somehow — don’t press this too far) ever since. She herself is a loving mother.’ (ellenandjim
(Mis-)using Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Tempest is a complex play, much debated in discussions of theatrical illusion, magic and power, and more recently of post-colonialism and feminism. The plotlines are finely interwoven,  and some of the poetry sublime. Prospero summarizes: … These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air… We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. The Met’s “pastiche” Enchanted Island is none of the above! Created because the Met manager wanted to play “the Baroque card” it uses a
Re-using baroque gems The audiences generally enthused. ‘It is a brilliantly showy, inventive production… an outrageously playful mash-up libretto… Full of wonderful comedy and oozily saccharine Broadway moments… The production team … absolutely guarantee inventiveness, magic, theatricality. And they deliver. What more could anyone want? … a plethora of visual delights, sumptuous costumes - and of course, the music, the music, the music.’ (Amazon) And after all, in Baroque times, recycling borrowed music was the way to go – and it still is. Our inhouse critics (Pat and Brenda) point to Mamma Mia as a modern example. Exact sources of each musical steal are here.    As the NY Times concluded, ‘What gives “The Enchanted Island” its poignancy is the palpable respect for the beautiful borrowed music.’

Our production, Fri. 2 & 9 Nov.

Music - Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, Campra. Libretto - Jeremy Sams, Met. Opera orchestra & chorus, cond. William Christie. Prospero - David Daniels, Sycorax - Joyce diDonato, Ariel - Danielle de Niese, Caliban - Luca Pisarone, Neptune - Placido Domingo.
Sycorax (Joyce diDonato) and Caliban (Luca Pisarone)