Pasatiempo - - Cd Reviews -

Clas­sics) The Amer­i­can pre­miere of Thomas Adès’ opera The Tem­pest, in 2006 at the Santa Fe Opera, was an amaz­ing artis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence — not only for the de­mand­ing and gor­geous mu­sic, the stag­ger­ingly com­plex pro­duc­tion, and the il­lu­mi­nat­ing di­rec­tion, but for con­duc­tor and then-SFO mu­sic di­rec­tor Alan Gil­bert’s near-mag­i­cal lead­er­ship in the pit. This live record­ing of the 2007 re­vival at the Royal Opera House, Covent Gar­den, where the work had its pre­miere in 2004, of­fers the com­poser’s own con­duct­ing and in­ter­pre­ta­tive take on the piece, and it’s a must-have for any­one in­ter­ested in Adès, in con­tem­po­rary opera, or in adap­ta­tions of Shake­speare’s plays. The Royal Opera House acous­tics are very dif­fer­ent from Santa Fe’s, of course, but lis­ten­ing to this record­ing, the ex­cite­ment and per­sua­sive­ness of the SFO pro­duc­tion came back to me as through an un­canny looking glass. The im­pact was the same, though the set­ting in time and space was quite dif­fer­ent. So­prano Cyn­dia Sieden, the only cast mem­ber who has sung in all The Tem­pest pro­duc­tions, is a mes­mer­iz­ing Ariel, and it’s nice to hear Toby Spence hand­somely reprise his SFO role of Fer­di­nand. This opera not only mer­its but de­mands re­peated lis­ten­ing, and this ex­cel­lent record­ing makes it a tran­scen­dent plea­sure as well as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.— Craig Smith

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