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2006, Los Angeles, The Tempest

Scenes from

The Tempest

Concert performance


Toby Spence, SK and Patricia Risley. Photo by Glynnis Rambaud

Composer : Thomas Adès
Librettist : Meredith Oakes
Venue and Dates : Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California
10, 11, 12 February 2006


Conductor : Thomas Adès
Program :

Sibelius : Suite No. 2 from The Tempest
Adès : Violin Concerto: Concentric Paths
Tchaikovsky : The Tempest
Adès : Scenes from The Tempest (US Concert premiere)

Performers :

Ariel : Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Miranda : Patricia Risley, mezzo-soprano
Ferdinand : Toby Spence, tenor
Prospero : Simon Keenlyside, baritone
Violin : Anthony Marwood

Click here for details of a DVD recording of this production:
Adès: The Tempest, DVD, House of Opera, DVDCC1341, 2004

Click here for details of the ROH premiere of The Tempest:
Adès: The Tempest, Covent Garden, February 2004


Toby Spence and SK at the pre-performance talk. Photo by Glynnis Rambaud


Click here to read a review by Glynnis Rambaud, who was a member of the audience for all three performances.

Wielding a magic wand.

Mark Swed, L.A. Times, 13 February 2006


Conductor Thomas Adès lives up to lofty expectations in a showcase at Disney.

“…In contrast, the uncontroversial neoclassical conventionality of Adès’ second opera — a grand-scaled adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” commissioned by the Royal Opera to celebrate the renovation of Covent Garden — left some of us scratching our heads at its tame premiere in 2004.

At Disney Hall on Friday night, selections from “The Tempest” were heard in the U.S. for the first time, along with the American premiere of Adès’ new Violin Concerto, his first major post-“Tempest” orchestral work. He included “Tempest” context too. Tchaikovsky’s fantasy-overture inspired by Shakespeare’s magical last play began the program, and Adès preceded his opera scenes with the second suite that Sibelius compiled from his incidental music for the play.

So much goes on in Adès’ music and his musical mind. His music is not hard to listen to. He is a flamboyant composer with a highly evolved dazzle gene. He gets bright, unusual, quirky, alluring sounds that, on a very immediate level, tickle the ear. Like Stravinsky, he has an original instinct for harmony and melody, which can be almost traditional but sound like nothing you’ve heard before. He delights in virtuosity and sensuality.”

”My first impression of the work itself was one of slenderness. But I’ve come not to trust first reactions to Adès’ music. Much of what felt slight or disappointing at the “Tempest” premiere was, I now suspect, a combination of an uncertain first night in the opera house and music that doesn’t reveal its depth right away. If time spent with a score and a recording of a more secure later performance hadn’t finally convinced me of the opera’s worth, I’m sure that hearing selected scenes from the first and second of its three acts in Disney’s acoustic would have done the trick.

Adès focuses here on Prospero’s relationships between his daughter, Miranda, and the spirit Ariel, both of whom he will lose. The writing for Ariel is breathtaking. This is surely the highest and fastest coloratura writing in all opera, and Cyndia Sieden, who sang the premiere, must be heard to be believed.

Adès’ Prospero is anguished and only sometimes warm. Simon Keenlyside, who also created this part at Covent Garden, made him a compelling tortured tyrant. Adès concluded with the love duet between Miranda (Patricia Risley) and Ferdinand (Toby Spence), melodically lush and rhapsodic yet with just enough harmonic eccentricity not to seem neo-Romantic slush.”

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