Read the original article in The Oregnian and listen to an audo clip here.
The buzz around Thomas Ades' "The Tempest" began with its premiere at London's Royal Opera in 2004 and never let up. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Opera introduced it to New York to mixed reviews. Among the singers was Audrey Luna, a Portland State University graduate, cast in the role of Ariel. The part is fiendishly difficult, littered with stratospheric notes. The New York Times' Anthony Tomassini liked what he heard:
The role of the spirit Ariel is written for a coloratura soprano singing in a stratospheric range, here the physically and vocally agile Audrey Luna. This punishing part should probably never have been written. With her radiant voice flitting about in super-high fidgety bursts, Ms. Luna can hardly make a single word clear. It doesn’t matter. Mr. Adès’s Ariel is a dazzling creation, and Ms. Luna conquers the role.
Martin Bernheimer had some colorful things to say about Luna, too:
Lithe and fearless, Audrey Luna made the impossible flights of Ariel seem like coloratura bagatelles.
The Washington Post's Anne Midgette was not enthusiastic about the opera:
There are many things to like in “The Tempest,” and while my reaction was uneven -- I hated the first act, loved the second, and was ambivalent about the third -- I’d say that on the whole it’s worth seeing. The opera is neither palpably anxious to please nor militant about driving home its artistic point of view regardless of what anybody might think, and thereby avoids two of the most common pitfalls of contemporary opera.
David Patrick Stearns in WQXR's Operavore called it confounding:
Though the Robert Lepage production gives the opera every possible chance with a fine cast conducted by the composer, The Tempest (premiered in 2004 at London's Royal Opera) has only fitful musical brilliance and many theatrical deficits - hamstrung by Meredith Oakes's libretto with characters who re-hash their anguish (have they run out of things to sing about?) while shoehorned into cheap, sing-song rhymes ("What a story! I'm so sorry!").
Yes, The Tempest is confounding. Considering that works such as Adès’s Violin Concerto (“Concentric Paths”) are assured of a lasting place in the concert hall, how could something this hobbled go so far?