Sunday, December 9, 2012


I always thought of Shakespeare's Tempest as a comedy but Thomas Ade's grand opera made me think again, Ade's is a very English composer and conductor and his music for The Tempest was exactly that, tempestuous, full of discords and clashes. The libretto, was adapted from the Shakespeare play by Meredith Oakes, but I am a phillistine, English libretto in a grand opera grates on my ear.

But the singing was magnificent, especially Audrey Lunar as Ariel who had to screech incredibly high notes yet kept in tune while flitting about above the stage, she never really comes down to earth.. Ariel and Caliban were undoubtedly creatures of a non human world, yet they showed their humanity brilliantly, especially Caliban.

The set of Prospero's Island was a recreation of Las Scala Opera House in the nineteenth century. The chorus was unidentified. In the play they are spirits of air and water. In the opera they could have been the audience of La Scala, in opulent costume, strolling about in a dreamlike trance.

The costumes were opulent. Prospero's tattooes, newly applied for every performance were a work of art in themselves.

We left the Cinema after three hours thirty minutes, feeling rather stunned, with a lot to think about' where modern music is going ' the brilliant stage effects possible with to-days technology; and what was Shakespeare really getting at in this play?

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