A more enchanted island

Thomas Adès’ The Tempest has had something like eight runs since its premiere at Covent Garden in 2004.  It recently opened at the Metropolitan Opera in a new production by Robert Lepage which was broadcast as part of the Met in HD series this afternoon.  It’s an interesting work musically.  Some of the vocal writing is reminiscent of Britten.  It all tends to a high tessitura for the voice type concerned and goes to extremes in that direction for the soprano part of Ariel where parts are so high that clear articulation of the words is impossible.  Writing for voice and orchestra ranges from dissonant to extremely lyrical (the act 2 duet between Miranda and Ferdinand).  Key and time signature changes are legion and many of the intervals for the singers are extreme.  It must be extremely difficult to perform but it’s rather lovely to listen to.

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