Thomas Adès and Philip Hensher’s dazzlingly precocious chamber opera Powder Her Face propelled its composer to international attention after its premiere in 1995 and, with nearly 300 worldwide performances, remains one of the most frequently performed British operas of the last two decades. Charting the glamorous rise and seedy fall of the notorious socialite beauty Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, the score is as witty, poignant and memorable as the ‘Dirty Duchess’ herself, paying homage to the popular idioms of cabaret and tango, as well as to Weill, Berg and Stravinsky. It is hard to believe that this masterpiece was written by a 24 year-old, but then that young man was Adès, whose prodigious musical talent was awe-inspiring even as a teenager.
'It already counts as a modern classic…'
The Observer (Fiona Maddocks), 6 April 2014