Tempest, The


opera in 3 acts
Oakes M (Librettist)
Meredith Oakes, after Shakespeare
3(II+III=picc).3(III=ca).3(III in A=bcl).3(III=cbsn) – 4.3.2.btrbn.1 – timp – perc(2/3): glsp/keyboard glsp/crot/handbells/2 tgl/cyms/2 susp.cym/2 whips/2 clappers/shell chimes/sheet metal/metal mcas/ratchet/geophone/4 branches/log drum/anvil/tam-t/3 SD/small BD (or kit BD)/BD – harp (act 3 only) – upright pno – strings (some basses with extensions to B)
Prospero (high Bar)/Ariel (high S)/Caliban (T)/Miranda (M)/Ferdinand (T)/King (T)/Antonio (T)/Stefano (BBar)/Trinculo (CT)/Sebastian (Bar)/Gonzalo (BBar)/Court: SATB chorus

Commissioned by the Royal Opera House

First Performance
10.2.2004: Royal Opera House, London, UK: The Royal Opera/Thomas Adès/dir. Tom Cairns

Limited edition full score 0-571-53872-X, full score 0-571-53838-X, vocal score 0-571-52208-4 and libretto 0-571-52337-4 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

The opera The Tempest is inspired by Shakespeare’s play, rather than literally being based on every aspect of it. There are key images from the play as well as new material. From among the play’s many themes and possible interpretations, the opera focusses on the difficulty, and the necessity, of mercy. The libretto uses contemporary vocabulary. Its lines are short, rhythmic and rhymed or semi-rhymed, echoing Shakespeare’s strophic songs more than his blank verse. This choice reflects the play’s magical, ritual, childlike elements, and acknowledges the traditional power of incantation in song. The operatic Prospero is the passionately vengeful man seen in the play, more than the wise disconnected actor also seen there. Despite his near-omnipotence, he finds things out as he goes along, and experiences contradictory emotions to the end.

© Meredith Oakes

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