Composer Ades employs a variety of musical styles, from dissonance to tonality, even a passacaglia for voices. The story follows Shakespeare's play: the banished magician Prospero regains his humanity after outsiders visit his island.

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(libretto), (after)
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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Simon Keenlyside ...
Isabel Leonard ...
Miranda
Audrey Luna ...
Ariel
Alan Oke ...
Alek Shrader ...
Ferdinand
Kevin Burdette ...
Iestyn Davies ...
Trinculo
Toby Spence ...
Antonio
Christopher Feigum ...
Sebastian
John Del Carlo ...
Gonzalo
William Burden ...
King of Naples
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Thomas Adès ...
Himself - Composer and Conductor
Metropolitan Opera Ballet ...
Dancers
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
Chorus
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra
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Composer Ades employs a variety of musical styles, from dissonance to tonality, even a passacaglia for voices. The story follows Shakespeare's play: the banished magician Prospero regains his humanity after outsiders visit his island.

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10 November 2012 (USA)  »

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Version of The Tempest (2004) See more »

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The cast and the production itself really makes for some compelling stuff
12 November 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I don't think Thomas Ades' The Tempest is ever going to be become one of my favourites, and I can see where people are coming from when they say it is an inconsistent work, but I do think it is an interesting one. It does have a good story that sticks faithfully to that of Shakespeare's play, already putting it above The First Emperor and The Enchanted Island Met performances. And the music does have a lot of good stuff about it, it does individualise the characters wonderfully especially Prospero. And the opening prelude, Ariel's Full Fathoms Five passage, Caliban's monologue and Ferdinand and Miranda's brief love duet are real standout moments in the score with their mixes of lyricism, ascending/descending trill figures, explosive percussion and muted strings. Where it is let down is that it doesn't maintain that throughout, there are times where it does feel monotonous, and of the opera I found the final hour to not be as good as the rest, it does feel languid and the drama here feels rather tame in comparison.

But this is a really good production, of the three productions of the 7th season shown it's The Tempest that was the most interesting in technical value especially. This production really does look great. I liked it that they set it in an opera house, some people may prefer a more mystical approach and the concept will perplex, but when you remember Shakespeare's All the World's A Stage the concept does make sense. The stage director here is Robert LePage, his work here is not as ambitious as for the Met Ring cycle, but his technical wizardry really does shine. The standouts in this regard were with the sunrise video projection and the silhouettes, the Act 2 chorus and in the storm sequence. Aside from how well individualised the characters were what was truly impressive about the staging was the changes in perspective, from the stage, the audience, the marooned travellers to in the final act sort of a fusion of the stage and audience, the drama becoming resolute was made all the more convincing this way.

Musically, it was just as mind-blowing. The quality of the music is sure to divide people, but what I cannot deny is that the orchestra, chorus and principals really put their all into performing it. The orchestral playing is superb throughout, lyrical at times yet very powerful in others. The storm sequence saw them at their best, the increasing chaos characterised in the orchestration was incredibly thrilling. The chorus are involved with the drama and sing with beautiful tone and attention to musicianship and balance. At the podium is Ades himself, and with his highly involved and committed conducting you can tell he knows what he wants. The colours, ranges and dynamics he brings out is truly extraordinary, making the music more engaging than it is.

The performances are every bit as impressive. Simon Keenlyside I have always liked, alongside Hvorostovsky and Alvarez(Carlos) he is one of the better baritones working today, and he makes for an outstanding Prospero. His singing as ever is virile and well-controlled, and his high notes sounded very confident to me. His musicality is just as remarkable, the delicacy of his pianissimo singing really does stand out. Dramatically, it is also an incredibly commanding performance, sometimes even on-stage without singing. He is tender at times especially in the latter part of the opera, while his more firmer uttering are performed with equal amounts of bite. Isabel Leonard's singing as Miranda is very graceful and beautiful, very ideal for her role and phrased with legato of great fluidity. It is very assured even for a relatively large voice like hers. She has a very touching presence as well.

Alek Schrader is good here as well as Ferdinand. He does have a lovely tone to his voice with good high notes and a nice lyrical style. I do think though it is a voice more suited to Bellini/Rossini/Donizetti(possibly early Verdi as well, in short Bel-Canto repertoire), sometimes with the orchestration as heavy as it was I did think to myself, considering the promise he's shown, that I hope he chooses his roles wisely. If there is one role in The Tempest that is the most difficult, it is easily Ariel. How many soprano roles in recent memory have had to cope with colouratura Es and Fs(high G also!)? Not many, the vocal fach here is enough to put the Queen of the Night(the queen of colouratura roles as far as I'm concerned) to shame. Audrey Luna does a truly splendid job, other than Keenlyside it was for me the standout performance of the production. She displays a very flexible voice and reaches those treacherous top notes with no problems at all. And all this when she was mostly suspended or being carried around? Just amazing.

We can't dismiss the rest of the cast either. Alan Oke brings to the table an appropriately eerie and later empathetic characterisation as Caliban, at his best in his reverie to the spirits. John Del Carlo's Gonzalo is both robust and idealistic, a good combination for this character, while Iestyn Davies and Kevin Burdette show great comic timing and Toby Spence and Christopher Feigum scheme effectively. Along with Oke for the supporting roles, William Burden was the standout, his King is very vibrant and tragic and we as an audience can't help being moved by him.

Overall, really compelling. The opera is not going to be for all tastes, but if you want to see technical wizardry and singing-acting at its finest look no further than here. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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