Host Deborah Voigt welcomes British composer Thomas Adès to the podium as he conducts the Met premiere of his contemporary masterpiece The Tempest, an English-language opera based on Shakespeare’s final play. The new opera will be transmitted to three Berkshire venues: The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, the Beacon Cinemas in Pittsfield, and the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown plus 1500 additional theatres around the world. The performance will be at 12:55 pm ET and runs about three hours.
In the Met’s fantastical new production by Robert Lepage, 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. Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the transmission and conducts backstage interviews with the stars. (Running time: approximately 151 minutes, including one intermission.)
“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.”—Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
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. The Saturday, November 10 matinee performance of The Tempest will be transmitted worldwide as part of the Met’s Live in HD series, which is now seen in more than 1,900 movie theaters in 64 countries around the world.
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, which returns to the Met this spring. 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. At the Met, he has sung Belcore in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Olivier in Strauss’s Capriccio, Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème, Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and, in 2010, two roles in new production premieres: the title character in Thomas’s Hamlet and Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo, both seen Live in HD. In addition to Hamlet and Prospero, his repertory also includes the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth, which he sang to acclaim at the Royal Opera last season.
Audrey Luna sang Ariel in the Quebec Opera Festival premiere of Lepage’s staging of The Tempest. She made her Met debut as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute in 2010 and returned in 2011 as Najade in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. She has sung the Queen of the Night at Santa Fe Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, and recently appeared as Chian Ch’ing in John Adams’s Nixon in China at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Later this season, she sings Zerbinetta with Fort Worth Opera.
Isabel Leonard sings three roles at the Met this season: Miranda in The Tempest; Rosina in a new, abridged English-language staging of The Barber of Seville; and Blanche de la Force in a revival of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. In recent seasons, she has sung numerous Mozart roles at the Met, including Così fan tutte’s Dorabella, Le Nozze di Figaro’s Cherubino, and Don Giovanni’s Zerlina, as well as Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the role of her debut.
Iestyn Davies made an acclaimed Met debut last season as Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda. The English countertenor’s recent performances include Eustazio in Handel’s Rinaldo at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at English National Opera, and the Voice of Apollo in Britten’s Death in Venice at La Scala.
Alek Shrader’s win in the 2007 National Council Auditions was documented in Susan Froemke’s film The Audition. He makes his Met debut as Ferdinand and returns in December to sing the role of Count Almaviva opposite Isabel Leonard in the new abridged, English-language production of The Barber of Seville.
Alan Oke made his Met debut as M.K. Gandhi in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha. His diverse Met repertory also includes Tchekalinsky in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Monostatos in The Magic Flute, the Four Servants in the 2009 new production premiere of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and, last season, Vitek in Janáček’s The Makropulos Case.
William Burden last appeared at the Met as Gilbert Griffiths in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy. Met audiences have also heard him as Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, and Janek in the Met premiere of The Makropulos Case.
Toby Spence sang the role of Ferdinand in The Tempest’s world premiere and now sings Antonio. He made his Met debut in the 2010 new production premiere of Hamlet, where he sang Laërte opposite Keenlyside as the title character.
Jasmine Catudal has designed sets for more than 50 plays in her native Quebec, most frequently at Montreal’s Théâtre Espace Libre, l’Espace Go, the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and Théâtre de la Licorne. Kym Barrett is an Australian costume designer whose film work includes The Matrix trilogy and the upcoming film adaptation of David Mitchell’s popular novel Cloud Atlas. Michel Beaulieu, one of Canada’s best-known lighting designers, has worked with many leading French Canadian directors, including Lorraine Pintal, Olivier Reichenbach, René-Richard Cyr, and Serge Denoncourt. David Leclerc has collaborated frequently with Lepage, designing videos for a 2011 production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Wendake, Quebec, and for The Andersen Project, a Hans Christian Andersen adaptation that has been performed around the world.