Mon | May 29, 2017

'The Tempest' makes for some interesting firsts

Published:Tuesday | November 13, 2012 | 11:00 AM
Thomas Adès. - Contributed
Isabel Leonard ('Miranda') and Alex Shrader (Ferdinand) in a scene from 'The Tempest'. - Contributed
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Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer

The Tempest passed through Carib on Saturday and the Shakespearean opera brought more drama than its stormy predecessor, Hurricane Sandy.

English composer Thomas Adès has brought new life to what is widely believed to be Shakespeare's final masterpiece.

Shakespeare's The Tempest is acknowledged as one of the playwright's greatest works and has been adapted in at least 46 operas and other musical varieties, along with numerous literary and on screen adaptations.

Thanks to the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series, Adès' opera can now also be seen on screen and thanks to Palace Amusement Company, Jamaicans can experience the magic unfold in local theatres.

Adès' musical composition follows the same storyline as the original play. Prospero (Simon Keenlyside) has been usurped as Duke of Milan and consigned to his demise by his brother, Antonio (Toby Spence).

However, Prospero manages, to survive and finds himself on this magical island, where he raises his daughter, Miranda (Isabel Leonard) and practises his sorcery with the help of Ariel (Audrey Luna), a spirit who longs for her freedom.

A mixture of faith and powerful magic provides Prospero with the opportunity to exact his revenge on all who had aided in his coup d'état, particularly his brother.

Lußna is absolutely brilliant as Ariel, and her prowess as a coloratura soprano is simply dazzling.

She stretches her voice to its upper limit for this role and admitted in a behind-the-scene interview that some of the lines were difficult to sing.

Any difficulty she might have been facing was not apparent on stage. Luna was clear and crisp in her delivery.

Premiere

The Tempest had its Met premiere some three weeks ago, even though the opera has been around since 2004. The opera is the only one among the Met's Live in HD repertoire this season where the original composer is still alive to conduct the music. Those watching the live transmissions were able to see priceless clips of Adès, skilfully directing the music he composed.

The Tempest is also the only opera included among this season's Live in HD roster which is sung in English. The librettist, Meredith Oakes, revealed in an interview during the transmission that she did face some difficulty translating Shakespeare's play into modern English that was easily understood by the audience and relatively easy to sing without losing any of the original meaning or effectiveness.