"... among the most important and successful operas of the 21st century..." The Guardian (Tom Service)
On 5 November Thomas Adès makes his conducting debut at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan in the Italian premiere of his 2003 opera The Tempest in the production by Robert Lepage with choreography by Crystal Pite.
Lepage’s production has previously appeared at the Metropolitan Opera and the Wiener Staatsoper, with designs by Jasmine Catudal, costumes by Kym Barrett, lighting from Michel Beaulieu and video by David Leclerc. Lepage’s production deconstructs the spectacle and theatrics of Prospero’s enchanted island by making the iconic auditorium of the Teatro alla Scala - and its backstage areas in Act three – integral to its designs and backdrop.
The role of Prospero is sung by baritone Leigh Melrose, with the sprite Ariel sung by soprano Audrey Luna. The role of Caliban it taken by Frédéric Antoun, with lovers Miranda and Ferdinand sung by Isabel Leonard and Josh Lovell respectively. Tenors Toby Spence and Robert Murray perform the roles of Alonso and Antonio; Spence originally sang the role of Ferdinand at the Royal Opera House.
Lepage’s production was the third The Tempest received since its premiere, following the inaugural staging by Tom Cairns at London’s Royal Opera House, which subsequently appeared at the Royal Danish Opera and Opéra National du Rhin. A second production from Keith Warner followed at the Oper Frankfurt (2010, revived 2014). The most recent new production of the opera was directed by Ludger Engels at the Hungarian State Opera in 2016.
In 2014 the Deutsche Grammophon DVD of Lepage’s production, recorded at the Metropolitan Opera, won a Grammy Award. Tom Service, writing in the Guardian, said of Adès’ score and Lepage’s staging:
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…For me, 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.
In the season prior to these performances Adès returned to the opera to fashion new suites based on its music. Suite from The Tempest, a 9 ½-minute piece for violin and piano, received its world premiere from Christian Tetzlaff and Kirill Gerstein on 1 October at the Kronberg Academy, followed by its London premiere at Wigmore Hall on 5 October. It was commissioned by Kronberg Academy (for the opening of Casals Forum), Jennifer Wingate and Wigmore Hall.
The Tempest Symphony, a 2022 orchestral work based on music from the opera, premiered in May this year at the Dresden Festival. The London Philharmonic Orchestra give the UK premiere with the composer conducting on 22 February 2023; it receives its US premiere from the Cleveland Orchestra on 30 March in Adès’ conducting debut with the orchestra. The 22-minute piece was co-commissioned by Dresdner Musikfestspiele (for the London Philharmonic Orchestra), and Cleveland Orchestra; Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director.