The Met has a mini-site dedicated to its new production
of The Tempest, one of the most important new operas
to come along in recent decades -
A post about our recent "Masques of Orpheus" program
devoted to "Tempests, Ghosts & Mad Queens" has a primer
on some of the familiar quotes, speeches & songs
in Shakespeare's autumnal masterpiece (and a personal
favorite among the Bard's great plays).
I hope inquiring minds (and ears!) will come
out to hear the drama and see the music of this
"brave new world" of an opera Saturday, Nov 10
at 12:55. Come early for a discussion on
composer Thomas Adès and his opera with me at 12:30.
The Tempest is the talk of the classical music world
and the eventful cultural scene of NYC!
Just 8 years old, this opera has already had several
productions across Europe, and at Santa Fe opera -
Multiple productions for a new work is a rarity,
and is but one example of both Adès' prodigious gifts
and his opera's stage worthiness.
And his music is fabulous - it's unlike anything the Met's done -
it is at once wholly original and yet full of arias and ensembles that have
a ring of familiarity. The role of the "Airy spirit" Ariel is
sung by a stratospheric coloratura soprano in what must be
among the most demanding roles ever written. The British critic
and author Tom Service writes, "There is no more vertiginous part in
the operatic repertoire."
Caliban's aria in Act 2 - "Be not afeard" - is as hauntingly beautiful as any
tenor aria of the last 40 years. And he is one of 4 lyric tenors in the cast.
The "reconciliation quintet" in Act III is ravishing. The score - from the opening storm to the the ethereal closing duet for the Island's natives - Ariel and Caliban -
is "rich and strange" as Shakespeare's own music. I have been listening
to both the premiere recording from Covent Garden and the Sirius XM
radio broadcasts, and I find the work more compelling with each listen.
This weekend's production is the highlight of the Met "Live in HD" season
for me personally, as I love exciting new works. I crossed paths
with Maestro Adès while I was a young artist at the Aldeburgh Festival
in the UK almost 10 years ago. His career as both a composer and pianist
was really taking off in Europe. He was starting to conduct
not only his own works but also those of his colleagues.
It's only natural that he be considered the successor to Benjamin Britten, another
composer / conductor / pianist who specialized in operas and vocal works
(and composed the most famous English language Shakespeare opera of
the 20th century - A Midsummer Night's Dream).
Amy and I have followed Adès ever since & heard his orchestral works
played live at the likes of Carnegie Hall. Sir Simon Rattle and the
Berlin Philharmonic are among his champions.
He is a bona fide genius, a prodigy & a fascinating individual.
Here's an excerpt from an interview with Adès on the Met's mini-site devoted to The Tempest. The composer is talking about his opera as a kind of musical globe, conceived and executed with the aim of symphonic unity.
Why Do You Describe This As A Symphonic Opera?
"The music has its own internal logic of relationships that doesn’t just do what it wants to do because the characters suddenly decide to go somewhere. It’s a little bit hard to explain. It’s a tissue that’s woven in. Everything is related in the music, and it does create a sort of whole. And I think that’s what symphonic thinking is. All the elements create a view of the world that’s a sphere."
What Other Operas Are Symphonic?
"I’d like to say Pelléas et Mélisande. I think Lulu is another example where everything in the piece is articulated in the music, and in a very jointed way. The opera is like a body, with limbs and arms and bone structure and all this sort of thing. It’s not just a story with music. It’s something that exists above and around the through the story. The music is not just an accompaniment, I hope, more an embodiment."
We hope to see you Saturday at Virginia Western's Whitman auditorium
for an exciting afternoon of a great new opera!