'[Adès] showers the audience with a spangled rain of sounds, haloing vocal lines with shimmering harmonies.' New York Classical & Dance


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 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)


Limited edition full score 057153872X, full score 057153838X, vocal score 0571522084 and libretto 0571523374 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


'Lyrical, plangent and at times fiercely dissonant, this ingeniously crafted score characterizes the depths of Prospero’s misery, the mysterious and magical world of the spirits Ariel and Caliban, and the formality of the courts of Milan and Naples.'
The Telegraph (Richard Kosowski), 9 November 2012
'The music rages and roars, or whistles ethereally, leaping from the growl of throaty bass instruments in the nether depths of the orchestra pit to the earsplitting twittering of the sprite Ariel'
The Washington Post (Anne Midgette), 25 October 2012

The Tempest

concert performance

Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre (London, United Kingdom)

Thomas Adès, Britten Sinfonia, Audrey Luna, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Nicky Spence, Sam Furness, Robert Murray, James Laing, Mark Stone, Brindley Sherratt, Britten Sinfonia Voices, Toby Spence