Following its world premiere at the 2016 Salzburg Festival and a critically acclaimed run of performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Thomas Adès’s third opera The Exterminating Angel received its US premiere in October at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Adès himself conducted a stellar cast of soloists in the original production by Tom Cairns.
‘Stunningly inventive… In this audacious opera the music digs deep. Mr. Adès’s wild, searing score explores the emotional undercurrents of the story and fleshes out the horror of the characters’ situation. My one reservation about the opera when I first heard it was that to some degree, Mr. Adès explored the dark side of Buñuel’s tale at the expense of its bizarrely comic elements. But after hearing it at the Met, I feel different. Mr. Adès’s thorny, modernist music, played with crackling precision and color by the orchestra, bristled with manic, almost madcap, energy. Two tragic guests, in the face of unreality, seek solace together. Beatriz and Eduardo are engaged and utterly absorbed in themselves. But Mr. Adès enshrouds them in the opera’s most rapturous music, an extended duet with sighing vocal lines and quizzical orchestral sonorities.
As an opera composer, Mr. Adès often has the orchestra hug every note and syllable of a vocal line. This stylistic trait could easily be overdone. But the chords and sonorities he comes up with at once buttress and shake up vocal lines, so the effect, in his hands, lends intriguing dramatic complexity. Over all, this riveting, breathless, score — full of quick-cutting shifts, pointillist bursts, and episodes of ballistic intensity — may be his best work.
If you go to a single production this season, make it this one.’
The New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 28 October 2017
‘Adès’ second premiere at the Met showed once again that he is undoubtedly one of the foremost composers of our time… Even with so strong a cast, the real stars are Adès and the brilliant score that he led from the pit… a masterpiece in every sense’
New York Classical Review (Eric C. Simpson), 27 October 2017