Saturday, November 10, 2012

A new opera, The Tempest

Today we in the hinterlands had an opportunity to see the simulcast of the new opera of Shakespeare's The Tempest by British composer and conductor, Thomas Ades. This was quite a marathon for me. The opera was three hours long, which was all right.  In the past two months I've read The Tempest in a class and watched the most recent movie of it which starred Helen Miren as as female lead, Prospera.  It also had, as only film can do. It was a very fine film.

The scene above is from the opening of the opera when the calm sea is about to become a raging torrent that capsizes a ship.  This opera was premiered in 2006 in Covent Garden in London and has had 6 or 8 productions in various opera houses -- it is a success.  The Metropolitan Opera production premier was only about three weeks ago.  The setting is different from the previous ones  showing the play taking place inside the La Scala opera house.  Although I understand the reference since Prospero is Duke of Milan this seemed a  director's ego trip and not integral to the story (at all!).  The text was much simplified, some rhymes were too forced such as "loiter/around my daughter."

By and large the opera caught the spirit of Propsero (and we're told, Sbakespeare) as he gives up his wizardry and returns to ordinary life.  The music was never tuneful but always appropriate except  that Ariel's arias were almost all in the highest, squeakiest notes and quite ugly as was her face make up. Prospero strangely had symbols "tatooed" all over his body.  I feel that I now have imbibed as much of The Tempest as I need to.  I know the story, I understand it, I think, and  I have a sense of satisfaction that this important play is now imbedded in my intellect. This is not an opera will expect to see a second time.

1 comment:


Yes, you are lucky to live in the hinterland and be able to take excellent classes and watch such well known operas such as "The Tempest." You sure picked a great place for retirement -- barbara