Thomas Adès, The Tempest, 2004
Tempest adaptations have failed: in adding something to Shakespeare’s magical and inherently lyrical scenario. From the tornado-like prelude to Ariel’s stratospheric yet ethereal “Five fathoms deep” the music illuminates rather than merely illustrates the drama.’ (Gramophone) But it’s not perfect and there were mixed reviews. Tommasini thought it  ‘one of the most inspired,
About Adès He’s regularly described as ‘clever’ and ‘modern’, but Adès makes lyrical (clever, modern) music.   ‘Most music critics have been hugely impressed, if occasionally left a little cold, by the sheer cleverness of Adès' music, the brilliantly original sonorities and rhythmic invention, the way it absorbs and spits out the history of music.’ (Telegraph) Opera isn’t primary for Adès.  He was 33 when he wrote The Tempest, his second opera. But his third, Exterminating Angel, was 12 years later. Opera, he says, should be ‘absurd in a way that is truer than reality.’ (Read the fascinating interview “Wagner is a fungus” here)  In operas, as in all his music, he draws on wildly different traditions ‘at ease with the idea of picking up any number of references and hanging them on music all his own.’  (Guardian) About his Tempest Is this the ultimate Shakespeare-to-opera effort? There’s a fit of Adès’s strange music with Shakespeare’s mystic plot and poetry.   ‘Adès’s second opera succeeds where most
audacious and personal operas to have come along in years.’ (NY Times).  But Andrew Clements, in the Guardian, is more guarded:  ‘The dramatic pacing sometimes falters, the comic characters get a bit too much stage time, and while Meredith Oakes's libretto consciously distances itself from Shakespeare's text… it seems to rely on a collective memory of the original for much of its dramatic power.’ But there are ‘moments of breathtaking beauty’. This is continuous but also character-defining music, with the orchestra a strong participant in every moment and the noise level sometimes overwhelming. Ariel’s soprano role ‘demands considerably more screeching than singing... When asked why he made such stratospheric demands on Ariel, Adès answered simply "because that's where he lives." ’  (Musical’s deep review of our production) 

Our production, Fri. 16 Nov.

NY Metropolitan Opera, 2012, Robert LePage production conducted by Thomas Adès. Prospero (bar): - Simon Keenlyside, Ariel (coloratura sop.) - Audrey Luna, Caliban (ten.) - Alan Oke, Miranda (Mez-Sop.) - Isobel Leonard, Ferdinand (ten.) - Toby Spence. Listen to Act III Scene v.