Review Roundup: American Debut of THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL at The Metropolitan Opera
The Met Opera presents the American premiere of Thomas Adès's THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, inspired by the classic Luis Buñuel film of the same name.
THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is a surreal fantasy about a dinner party from which the guests can't escape. Tom Cairns, who wrote the libretto, directs the new production, and Adès conducts his own adventurous new opera. The opera runs through November 21.
The cast stars Audrey Luna as Leticia Maynar, Amanda Echalaz as Lucia de Nobile, Sally Matthews as Silvia de Avila, Sophie Bevan as Beatriz, Alice Coote as Leonora Palma, Christine Rice as Blanca Delgado, Iestyn Davies as Francisco de Avila, Joseph Kaiser as Edmundo de Nobile, Frederic Antoun as Raul Yebenes, David Portillo as Eduardo, David Adam Moore as Colonel Alvaro Gomez, Rod Gilfry as Alberto Roc, Kevin Burdette as Senor Russell, Christian van Horn as Julio, and Sir John Tomlinson as Doctor Carlos Conde.
THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL has choreography by Amir Hosseinpour, set and costume design by Hildegard Bechtler, projection design by Tal Yarden, and lighting design by Jon Clark.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times: As an opera composer, Mr. Adès often has the orchestra hug every note and syllable of a vocal line. This stylistic trait could easily be overdone. But the chords and sonorities he comes up with at once buttress and shake up vocal lines, so the effect, in his hands, lends intriguing dramatic complexity. Over all, this riveting, breathless, score - full of quick-cutting shifts, pointillist bursts, and episodes of ballistic intensity - may be his best work... In a timid Met season very heavy on the staples, "The Exterminating Angel" is the company's one bold offering. If you go to a single production this season, make it this one.
Justin Davidson, Vulture: Adès somehow comes up with the perfect accompaniment for it all. His imagination is so prolific, his command so total, that I often wish he would pause and let a passage spin out before cutting it off and deciding it's time for something completely different... But Adès's score adds a new layer of meaning: It demonstrates that music of exquisite craftsmanship can touch all that is most primal in us. I can't think of another living composer who can conjure fear, contentment, bitterness, disgust, and joy with a few quick measures, almost as if he were touching labeled keys. To watch him in the pit, expertly conducting his own runaway creation, is to sense how deeply he relishes both chaos and control.
Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review: But The Exterminating Angel is in many ways more a theatrical piece than a musical one, and the genius in Adès' work is his ability to find an ingenious musical solution to every dramatic need... Seldom has a dramatic work come to more vivid life in its musical realization. Adès' latest is a masterpiece in every sense; with two stirring successes under his belt, he's established an impressive track record of presenting major new works at the Met, albeit after previous showings elsewhere. Sooner or later, the company ought to take a real chance and offer an Adès world premiere.
Wilborn Hampton, The Huffington Post: To say the music is eclectic would be an understatement. The Exterminating Angel is scored for a variety of instruments one doesn't often hear from an opera pit, or any other for that matter. There are slamming doors, clanging rocks, a rattle with bottle caps, cowbells, a salad bowl, some teeny-tiny violins and an ondes Martenot for the eerie sound that is more or less the theme of the title character. All of these noises meld with more familiar orchestral instruments to create an eerie ambience that juxtaposes waltzes against martial drums and horns, harmony among discordant crashing chords.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera