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Great Performances At The Met: The Enchanted Island

Airs Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: David Daniels stars as Prospero and Joyce DiDonato as Sycorax in "The Enchanted Island."

"The Enchanted Island," a world premiere work that combines Baroque music with a new, English-language libretto featuring characters from Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," and a starry cast including Danielle de Niese, Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, and Luca Pisaroni, will air on THIRTEEN’s GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET.

Devised and written by the acclaimed British theater artist Jeremy Sams in his Met debut, "The Enchanted Island" is conducted by renowned Baroque specialist William Christie and seen in a fantastical production by director Phelim McDermott and scenic designer Julian Crouch that blends 18th-century theatrical techniques with advanced video projection designs.

"The Enchanted Island" is a contemporary take on the 18th-century tradition of operatic “pasticcios” (pastiches), in which new librettos were combined with music from various compositions to create entirely new theatrical pieces. The tradition was particularly popular in London, where Handel was a prominent practitioner.

The score for "The Enchanted Island" comprises selections from a variety of Baroque operas, cantatas, and oratorios, many of which are rarely performed in contemporary opera houses.

DiDonato stars as the sorceress Sycorax and Daniels is her supernatural foe, the sorcerer Prospero; Domingo is Neptune, god of the seas; de Niese is the air spirit Ariel; Lisette Oropesa is Prospero’s daughter Miranda; Anthony Roth Costanzo is the shipwrecked prince Ferdinand; and Pisaroni is Sycorax’s monstrous son Caliban.

The score includes music from many Handel works, including operas (e.g. Alcina, Ariodante, Partenope, and Semele, Tamerlano, and Teseo); oratorios (Hercules and Judas Maccabaeus); and cantatas (e.g. “Tanti strali al sen mi scocchi” and “Notte placida e cheta”); and more. The other works represented in "The Enchanted Island" are by Vivaldi, Rameau, Ferrandini, Campra, Purcell, Rebel, and Leclair.

Sams, a noted stage director, writer, translator, composer, and lyricist, has created an English-language libretto for "The Enchanted Island" that combines the plots of two Shakespeare plays. In Sams’s story, the bitter supernatural war between "The Tempest’s" Prospero and his nemesis, the sorceress Sycorax, is interrupted by a quartet of unexpected island visitors: the four lovers from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," whose honeymoon cruise has ended in a shipwreck.

The ensuing conflicts and romantic entanglements also involve Prospero’s daughter Miranda, Sycorax’s grotesque son Caliban, the shipwrecked prince Ferdinand, the air spirit Ariel, and Neptune, king of the undersea world.

The four "Midsummer" lovers are sung by Layla Claire (Helena), Elizabeth DeShong (Hermia), Paul Appleby (Demetrius), and Elliot Madore (Lysander, in his Met debut). Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts. Barbara Willis Sweete directs the telecast.

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Preview: Great Performances At The Met: The Enchanted Island

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Above: This extraordinary new work combines the world’s best singers, the glorious music of the Baroque masters, and a story drawn from Shakespeare. In “The Enchanted Island,” the lovers from Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" are shipwrecked on the other-worldly island of "The Tempest."

Video

David Daniels in The Enchanted Island

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Above: David Daniels performs as Prospero in the Metropolitan Opera’s production "The Enchanted Island."

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Joyce DiDonato in The Enchanted Island

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Above: Joyce DiDonato as Sycorax in “The Enchanted Island.”

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Danielle de Niese in The Enchanted Island

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Above: Danielle de Niese as Ariel in “The Enchanted Island.”

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