Thomas Adès’ opera The Tempest has been praised the world over and performed over 50 times since its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 2004. This month it reached New York’s Metropolitan Opera in a new production by Canadian director Robert Lepage. Conjuring the interior of 18th-century La Scala, Lepage sets the action in the creaking, old opera house, including the hidden workings underneath the stage, where Prospero, the banished Duke of Milan, practices his otherworldly arts.
The Met performances – starring baritone Simon Keenlyside as Prospero, soprano Audrey Elizabeth Luna as Ariel and tenor Alan Oke as Caliban – have been the talk of the town, with the press once again proclaiming this ‘magical’ and ‘most compelling’ work as ‘among the most important and successful operas of the 21st century.’
Live cinema relay from the Met on 10 November
On 10 November The Tempest will be transmitted live in HD to more than 1,800 cinemas in 55 countries around the world, including 125 cinemas across the UK. This is sure to be a richly-rewarding experience for those unable to see the new production in person.
‘magical in every respect’
‘pure, sensual enchantment…’
‘[a] reminder of why we go to the opera’
‘among the most important and successful operas of the 21st century’
‘one of the most satisfying operas to blow onto the stage of the Met in years.’
‘Thomas Adès’s The Tempest is an exemplary reminder of why we go to the opera… The Tempest is not a multimedia pageant, a musical with pretence, or some brave new hybrid. It is fresh proof of the sinew still left in an aged genre. You know it from the first minutes, in which a high, crystalline chord is shattered by a sonic gale, and Miranda appears onstage, fretting over the damage in agitated melodic leaps, while gusts of orchestral music whip around her voice… this remains a drama powered by a marvel of a score… [Adès] showers the audience with a spangled rain of sounds, haloing vocal lines with shimmering harmonies.’
New York Magazine (Justin Davidson), 28 October 2012
‘the effect on the night was clearer, more moving, more human, and more rich than any production of The Tempest I've seen… what emerged at the Met this week was proof of The Tempest's ever-deepening musical and theatrical power… The notes of The Tempest have a crystalline precision that makes you feel that not one of them is out of place or surplus to requirements. It's a bejewelled rightness that releases the emotions and personalities of his characters, so that there's an absolute connection between what they are singing and what they are feeling and the experience they give to the audience… The Tempest is among the most important and successful operas of the 21st century, and in this production, it's revealed to its full potential.
The Guardian (Tom Service), 26 October 2012
At its London premiere I thought The Tempest one of the most inspired, audacious and personal operas to have come along in years. I feel this even more strongly after the Met’s fantastical production… For The Tempest he fashioned a language that on its surface may seem seductively tonal. But at every moment all sorts of complex, subtle things are going on in this music.
New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 24 October 2012
The opera was simply magnificent, and I felt so proud and excited to have been anywhere near such an act of transformation…Sometimes, something excellent gets the treatment it deserves. This was one of those occasions
The Independent (Philip Hensher), 26 October 2012
‘The new production of Thomas Adès's opera The Tempest, which opened at the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday, is magical in every respect. Based on Shakespeare's play, the opera is one of the most compelling new works of recent years, and the production by Robert Lepage matches it in imagination and originality… Creating art is a potent alchemy, these artists are telling us, and this particular variety of it is just the sort of thing that the Met should be doing… The musical moods of the score shift constantly, underlining its seamless dramatic arc... the effect is pure, sensual enchantment…’
The Wall Street Journal (Heidi Waleson), 24 October 2012
‘The score manages the nearly impossible task of our postmodern era: being eclectic without feeling inorganic or inauthentic. It runs the gamut from the jazzy rhythms of the very beginning to a Baroque-inspired quintet near the end, and it never sounds like pastiche. It all sounds like Adès.’
The New York Observer (Zachary Woolfe), 24 October 2012
‘Shakespeare calls for “solemn and strange music” in his 1612 play about a group of humans and spirits made to share an island in the wake of a shipwreck. In Adès’ adaptation, the 41-year-old English composer provides both, along with sharp psychological insight, humor, magic, and a lingering air of melancholy. Shot through with the archaic beauty of Meredith Oakes’ libretto and brought to life in a dazzling and thought-provoking production by Robert Lepage, The Tempest is one of the most satisfying operas to blow onto the stage of the Met in years.’
The Classical Review (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim), 24 October 2012