'The Tempest' reviews

'The Tempest … is a masterpiece of airy beauty and eerie power … Adès discovers a glowing new lyric voice … The epiphany not only of the opera but perhaps of his entire career to date comes in Caliban’s aria “Friends don’t fear” … This is ravishing music in purest A major, though the notes of the scale blend together in ever-changing, shimmering combinations.  The effect is of light flooding the scene, of warmth rushing in …'
The New Yorker (Alex Ross), 1 March 2004

'Characterisation, vocal and dramatic, is vivid and some of the gossamer harmonies Adès has invented for Prospero’s strange island and its inhabitants… bewitch the ear with their captivating tonal shimmer.  Adès does not shirk the traditional big operatic moments. There is a thrilling and moving quintet of reconciliation and he gives each of his main characters an imposing and impressive aria … these are expressed in music of extraordinary imaginative power … The Tempest should be spell - binding and that is what Adès has made it … It’s a must.’
The Sunday Telegraph (Michael Kennedy), 15 February 2004

‘… hugely impressive three - act opera … it is through restraint of means and subtle tonal adjustments that the island magic works on us. The harmony might seem tonal - and even medieval - but it is always being sea-changed.  In the inventive flow, nothing is quite what it appears, partly because the sheer pressure of the flow leaves us no time to pin, say, the Act 1 trio, the Janacekian, almost Puccinian love duet in Act 2 or the Act 3 quintet to their traditional prototypes.  The choral writing, too, while robustly traditional, is slotted in without calling attention to itself … I wish I could single out each one of the team that made this premiere such a triumph.’
The Sunday Times (Paul Driver), 15 February 2004

‘… Mr. Adès’s arresting compositional voice comes through almost continually: his ear for pungent harmony; his layering of every-which-way contrapuntal lines, which somehow remain audible; his impish blending of diverse musical styles. The Tempest is the work of a composer who is prodigiously talented and who knows it … you are swept along by the sheer ingenuity of the music.  In the final act, when Prospero conjures a vision of a heavenly feast for the hungry island captives, the beguilingly strange music, with piercingly high winds dominating the orchestra textures, sounds like some modern reimagining of a Renaissance dance.  The long final scene of recognition is a skillfully rendered passacaglia (a stately dance in the form of variations on a repeated ground bass) in which a rapturously lyrical ensemble for the main characters is supported by wistful choral refrains.  This is music of a young master. The Metropolitan Opera must bring this significant new work to New York.’
The New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 23 February 2004
‘The music lifts you into the stratosphere, and you don’t want to leave … Adès himself conducted, drawing a riot of color from the orchestra … A huge, stamping - and - shouting roar greeted the composer when he took his solo bow – a final storm of sound on the enchanted island.’
The New Yorker (Alex Ross)
‘The wonderful quintet of healing begins with a kernel of melody so pure, simple and English that it might be John Dowland.  The way it burgeons into something lofty and aspirational says more about the possibilities of new beginnings than anything I know in contemporary music.'
The Independent (Edward Seckerson)

‘If you need proof that the hype surrounding Adès is more than just hope and expectation, this is where to find it’
The Guardian (Erica Jeal)
 

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