British composer Thomas Adès conducts the Met premiere of his contemporary masterpieceThe Tempest, an English-language opera based on Shakespeare’s final play. The Met’s fantastical new production by Robert Lepage airs on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, March 17 at 12 noon on PBS (check local listings).
In New York, THIRTEEN will premiere the opera on Thursday, March 21 at 9 p.m., with an encore showing Sunday, March 24 at 12:30 p.m.
Simon Keenlyside leads the cast as the exiled magician Prospero, a role he created at the opera’s 2004 world premiere. The opera also stars Isabel Leonard as Prospero’s daughter, Miranda; Alek Shrader as the shipwrecked prince, Ferdinand; Alan Oke as the monstrous island native Caliban; and Audrey Luna in the stratospheric coloratura role of the air spirit Ariel.
Heidi Waleson of the Wall Street Journal raved, “This is the Met at its adventurous best.” And Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called the production “One of the most inspired, audacious and personal operas to have come along in years…a superb cast, headed by the charismatic baritone Simon Keenlyside…Adès drew a textured, glittering and suspenseful account of his opera from the great Met orchestra.”
In Lepage’s production, Prospero, a 19th-century impresario and the exiled Duke of Milan, has recreated the La Scala opera house on his island as a magical box for his sorcery. The design team comprises four distinguished artists in their Met debuts: set designer Jasmine Catudal, costume designer Kym Barrett, lighting designer Michel Beaulieu, and video image artist David Leclerc.
Thomas Adès is one of the leading composers in the world of contemporary classical music. The English artist’s works are regularly performed at the world’s leading opera houses, festivals, and symphonies. His first opera, Powder Her Face, has been staged all over the world and recorded for CD and DVD. Adès conducted the world premiere of The Tempest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2004. Multiple productions in Europe and North America, including the 2006 American premiere at the Santa Fe Opera, have been met with overwhelming critical acclaim. Adès’s music has earned widespread recognition and numerous awards, including the prestigious Grawemeyer Award—of which he is the youngest-ever recipient. The Tempest is the first Adès opera to be staged at the Met, and the composer makes his Met debut as conductor of the work.
Robert Lepage has directed two previous productions at the Met, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust in 2008 and, across the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, a new production of Wagner’s four-part epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, both seen on Great Performances at the Met. His staging of The Tempest, a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, L’Opéra de Quebec, and the Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna, premiered at the Quebec Opera Festival in July 2012. The multi-disciplinary artist has directed numerous acclaimed productions of Shakespeare’s Tempest, in both French and English.
Meredith Oakes’s plays include The Neighbour, The Editing Process, Faith, Scenes from the Back of Beyond, Mind the Gap, Man for Hire, and Shadowmouth. Her works have been produced in numerous high-profile venues, including London’s Royal National Theater and Royal Court Theatre.
Simon Keenlyside sang the role of Prospero in the 2004 world premiere of The Tempest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Audrey Luna sang Ariel in the Quebec Opera Festival premiere of Lepage’s staging of The Tempest. Toby Spence sang the role of Ferdinand in The Tempest’s world premiere and now sings Antonio.
Soprano Deborah Voigt will host the broadcast. The Tempest was originally seen live in movie theaters on November 10 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1900 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 64 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
Major funding for the telecast is provided by M. Beverly and Robert G. Bartner. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Jay David Saks is Music Producer, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.