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  Thomas Ades - The Tempest  red5 at 21:38 on 17 March 2007

Considering the debate regarding Thomas Ades on the forum recently I thought it might be worthwhile reviewing Ades' large scale opera 'The Tempest' which is currently on at London's Covent Garden.

This was actually my second time of seeing the opera having seen it during its original run back in 2004. However, I know from insider information that that production was largely scored by other composers due to a tight deadline and I think that it showed. On Thursday however, the revised opera was much smoother and definately more enjoyable. The music is typical of Ades, ranging from severe ryhthmic complexity to sharply contrasting ethereal harmony and soundworlds. On the whole the music was well thought out, scored and performed (Ian Bostridge stole the show in my opinon) but it felt as though Ades had tried to put too much history into the opera. There were many moments were one couldn't avoid thinking of great opera composers such as Wagner, Verdi and Puccini (mostly when the chorus were singing). I think the work would have benefited from a more consistent musical aesthetic but it is still enjoyable and worth the money. I also felt that the orchestra was too big. The forces were rarely simulataneously employed and it almost looked like Ades used a big orchestra because he could rather than because he wanted to.

The scenery was very impressive apart from a very dodgy ship 'sinking' during the storm sequence at the start of the opera. Lighting was used very effectively as was a video projector.

My main complaint concerns the libretto. For some reason it was deemed necessary to use rhyming couplets throughout most of the work and it got very tiresome. I'm also not convinvced Shakespeare makes a good opera subject, the final act was rather pointless because of its sucession of events which simply tied up loose ends. This said there were some very funny moments, notably Ariel 'bow-wowing' to Prospero, her master, which was very cleverly set by Ades.

  Re: Thomas Ades - The Tempest  KateM at 10:35 on 19 March 2007

I think you're right about the libretto, those rhymes really did grate after a while. I thought it did have a "consistent musical aesthetic" though, I'm surprised you put it like that.

  Re: Thomas Ades - The Tempest  red5 at 13:44 on 21 March 2007

I just felt it jumped around too much, apart from the 'Caliban' little motif there didn't seem to be much unifying it - but of course that's just my opinion.

  Re: Thomas Ades - The Tempest  KateM at 19:41 on 21 March 2007

I've listened to it a few times and there is lots of unifying material I think. It's complex music though, so themes and repeating harmonies don't necessarily stand out to you straight away - but the same could be said of Berg and many other fine composers.

I thought harmonically in particular it was a very consistent work.

  Re: Thomas Ades - The Tempest  ruska02 at 16:43 on 23 March 2007

I completely agree with red5. Just another big work of Ades with nothing really valuable in it.
Lets stop talking about Ades and exchange our opinions on someone more valuable, original , honest and skillfull.

Roberto Rusconi Composer