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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: The Tempest

A scene from Act One of Thomas Ads's "The Tempest" with acrobat Jaime Verazin as Ariel.
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
A scene from Act One of Thomas Ads's "The Tempest" with acrobat Jaime Verazin as Ariel.

Airs Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

British composer Thomas Adès conducts the Met premiere of his contemporary masterpiece "The Tempest," an English-language opera based on Shakespeare's final play. The Met's fantastical new production by Robert Lepage airs on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET.

Simon Keenlyside as Prospero in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Simon Keenlyside as Prospero in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Isabel Leonard as Miranda and Alek Shrader as Ferdinand in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Isabel Leonard as Miranda and Alek Shrader as Ferdinand in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Alan Oke as Caliban in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Alan Oke as Caliban in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Audrey Luna as Ariel and Simon Keenlyside as Prospero in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Audrey Luna as Ariel and Simon Keenlyside as Prospero in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Alek Shrader as Ferdinand and Isabel Leonard as Miranda in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."
Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Alek Shrader as Ferdinand and Isabel Leonard as Miranda in Thomas Adès' "The Tempest."

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.

Heidi Waleson of the Wall Street Journal raved, "This is the Met at its adventurous best." And Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called the production "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."

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.

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," both seen on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET.

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’ 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. Audrey Luna sang Ariel in the Quebec Opera Festival premiere of Lepage’s staging of "The Tempest." Toby Spence sang the role of Ferdinand in "The Tempest" world premiere and now sings Antonio. Soprano Deborah Voigt will host the broadcast.

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Watch GP at the Met: Tempest Preview on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

This production by Robert LePage ("The Ring Cycle") of Thomas Ades’ opera, with a libretto by Meredith Oakes, features Audrey Luna (Ariel), Isabel Leonard (Miranda), Iestyn Davies (Trinculo), Alek Shrader (Ferdinand), Alan Oke (Caliban), William Burden (King of Naples), Toby Spence (Antonio) and Simon Keenlyside (Prospero). The opera is based on Shakespeare’s play of the same title.
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Watch Simon Keenlyside in "The Tempest" on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

A performance by Simon Keenlyside from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” by English composer Thomas Adès.
Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2341209875

Watch Isabel Leonard and Alek Shrader in "The Tempest" on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

A performance by Isabel Leonard and Alek Shrader from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” by English composer Thomas Adès.

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