Thomas Ades’ Tempest

Tried to catch the Met’s screening of Thomas Ades’ Tempest at the theatre last night, but the HD transmission was poor and the picture and sound kept breaking up. I might have gritted my teeth and kept in my seat for the second and third acts, but frankly I was struggling to keep my eyes open, so at intermission, I stalked out the door, and got a refund. Ades’ Tempest is a little difficult to listen to. The music is spare but dissonant, and the English libretto sounds grating and harsh on the ears. I wasn’t very taken with the one act I saw, even if with the stellar cast: Simon Keenlyside as Prospero, Isabel Leonard as Miranda (enjoyed her Stephano in Met’s 2007 Romeo and Juliet), the gorgeous Alek Shrader as Ferdinand, and Iestyn Davies in a buffo role.


The opening scene with an aerialist (body double for Ariel) gracefully moving about on a spinning chandelier as characters flail about in a heaving electric blue silk drape evocative of a raging ocean was a visually stunning spectacle, worthy of direct Robert Lepage’s Cirque du Soleil background. But after the storms abated, so did my excitement. Audrey Luna, the coloratura soprano singing Ariel, had some really high squeaking singing lines that were painful to listen to. Isabel Leonard has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, but which was lost in some really high and jarring-sounding arias. Apparently, both the singers and critics say that Act 2 is their favorite act, with some really beautiful and melodic duets between Ferdinand and Miranda… but next time perhaps.


In other news, I’ve had two unlucky incidents in a row now with cab drivers. The first: our cab driver from the airport late Sunday evening was pulled over on the highway by the police, for improper use of lanes and speeding. Urgh. The driver was an Asian dude – either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean (even we couldn’t be sure) – and he didn’t move to freeze the meter while the police was taking down his details. After an annoying minute of watching the meter tick upwards, I had to ask him to pause it. The second: the cab driver from the theatre, a young Indian woman who looked in her early 20s, did not seem to have a good grasp of the city. She didn’t really know my address, and didn’t even know how to get from the theater to Lake Shore Drive. She could have gone straight two blocks to the ramp to Lake Shore, but instead she turned and then attempted to go down the wrong way of a one-way street. Argh.


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