Audrey Luna, a graduate from Portland State University, continues to win praise as Ariel in Thomas Ades' opera "The Tempest." Luna, who scored raves at the Metropolitan Opera, impressed San Francisco, too.
Joshua Kosman writes in the San Francisco Chronicle:
At the center of the [San Francisco Symphony] program was a group of five scenes from Thomas Adès' brilliantly innovative opera "The Tempest," premiered in London in 2004. I heard the U.S. premiere two years later in Santa Fe, N.M., and I'd forgotten quite what an exciting and ingenious score it is.
Thursday's performance reminded me in a hurry. Between the electrifying clarity of Heras-Casado's conducting and the superb contributions of the four solo singers, these all-too-brief excerpts - some 25 minutes of music in all - offered a tantalizing taste of a work that is still coming into its own.
Any consideration of "The Tempest" begins with Adès' treatment of the role of Ariel - not necessarily because it's central to the opera but because the premise is so brazen. Adès casts Shakespeare's airy sprite for a soprano singing at stratospheric heights - this is a role that makes the Queen of the Night sound positively baritonal by contrast.
It's a daring challenge for both the composer and the singer, who between them have to turn long sequences of potential squeaks and shrieks into music of unearthly beauty. And not least among the delights of Thursday's concert was the joint success on that point by Adès and soprano Audrey Luna, in a splendid Symphony debut.
Ariel's ethereal presence came out in testy exchanges between her and Prospero, sung with gruff, swaggering authority by baritone Rod Gilfry (the Prospero of Adès and librettist Meredith Oakes is a considerably darker and more conflicted figure than Shakespeare's).
Even more striking is the setting of "Full fathom five" ("Five fathoms deep" in Oakes' version), which is surely the most purely lyrical music ever composed for a soprano singing well above the staff. Luna's performance was a tour de force of precision and grace, well matched by Gilfry's complex and slightly rough-hewn contributions.
Read the original article in The Oregonian here.