Friday, November 9, 2012

Shakespeare opera comes to theaters

Romeo and Juliet. Macbeth. Othello. Falstaff and the Merry Wives. In addition to their original Shakesepeare incarnations, they all have second lives in beloved operas. Will Prospero be next?

You can help decide Saturday, when the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts Thomas Ades' "The Tempest" into movie theaters.

Ades, one of England's leading composers, brought out his version of Shakespeare's play in 2004, and it has been acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. At the Met, stage director Robert Lepage -- director of the Met's "Ring of the Nibelung" -- has put "The Tempest" into the world of 18th-century opera. Prospero works his spells in a likeness of Italy's La Scala opera house.

"Creating art is a potent alchemy, these artists are telling us, and this particular variety of it is just the sort of thing that the Met should be doing," the Wall Street Journal's Heidi Waleson wrote.

Ades designed the role of Prospero for British baritone Simon Keenlyside, who performs tomorrow.
Keenlyside is "a terrifically physical performer who projects youth and vitality," Ades says in a Met interview. That plays into Ades' view of Shakespeare's protagonist.

"I don't think of Prospero as an old man. ... When Prospero meditates on the evanescence of life, my feeling is actually it not that he does that every day and has been doing it for years. ... He's just realizing it at that exact moment. That's the first time he's thought this."

Ades designed the music to illuminate that.

"The storm at the beginning," Ades says, "is his interior torture and pain, his twistedness and anger about having his life stolen from him. ... Once those emotions have played out and he sees the effect they have had (on the characters), the music is almost like the sea or a surface of water -- it becomes calmer."

The Met broadcast starts at 12:55 p.m. at the usual theaters, Stonecrest near Ballantyne and Concord Mills. If you'd rather spend your Saturday afternoon outdoors, enjoying what's expected to be a nice weekend, you can still visit Prospero's island: The Met will have an encore showing Nov. 28.