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  • Your Reaction: What did you think of Thomas Adès‏'s The Exterminating Angel?

Your Reaction: What did you think of Thomas Adès‏'s The Exterminating Angel?

Audience responses to the UK premiere of Adès's opera, inspired by Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

25 April 2017 at 12.33pm | 16 Comments

Press reviews:
Evening Standard ★★★★★
Arts Desk ★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
The Times ★★★★
What's On Stage ★★★★
The Stage ★★★

What did you think of The Exterminating Angel?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

The Exterminating Angel runs until 8 May 2017. Tickets are still available.

The production is a co-commission and co-production with Salzburg Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Royal Danish Opera and is staged with generous philanthropic support from Stefan Sten Olsson, The John S. Cohen Foundation and The Boltini Trust.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

25 April 2017 at 12.33pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Tom Cairns, Production, review, The Exterminating Angel, your reaction

This article has 16 comments

  1. Peter Lewis responded on 25 April 2017 at 1:46pm Reply

    I appreciated the craft that has gone into this piece but barely a tune worthy of note all night. Lots of orchestral noise. Great cast but it was more of an ensemble work. Glad to have the surtitles as I struggled to understand what was being 'sung'. The plot seems to have come from a dark place and many around me didn't have a clue what it all meant. I'm sure the chattering classes can have that debate.

  2. This was perfection. Tom Adrs is genius. His work is pure genius. the colours his orchestration has gotten out of this orchestra I have heard many times before were astonishing. He stretched the darkness and light to unheard of tones. The beauty of the vocal writing, clearly made for singing with a deep understanding of what voices can and should do - something which is not often heard now a days, was breathtaking. I loved the direction and set design too. It was one of those rare occasions on the operatic stage where all sides of a production where simply perfect. And what great singers. Not a weak link. And I simply did not want it to end.

  3. Sim responded on 26 April 2017 at 4:46pm Reply

    Peter Lewis, what are 'the chattering classes' please?

  4. Katie Barnes responded on 28 April 2017 at 1:43am Reply

    A stunning achievement for all concerned. Ades' music is epic in scale and splendour, and I love the use of the eerie ondes martinot, swooping down on its helpless victims. Tom Cairns's production is a perfect match to the music, although I wish that we hadn't had that terribly unconvincing actor in a bear suit. My only real criticism is that, because there are so many leading characters, some roles are very sparely written and barely register with the audience, also, unless one has read the libretto in advance (which, fortunately, I had) it's hard to identify who's who. Because we barely know some of these characters, it's hard to feel as much pity for their plight as we would if we had been allowed to get to know them better. Among those who do register strongly are John Tomlinson as the Doctor, a mighty voice of reason amid the chaos; Anne Sofie von Otter, riveting as the dying Leonora; Ed Lyon and Sophie Bevan as the doomed young lovers; Iestyn Davies, transmuting his exquisite countertenor into hysteria; and Audrey Luna as the stratospheric prima donna. It is a pity that Thomas Allen's role was so underwritten.
    I look forward to seeing it again later in the run - there is so much to see and hear that I could not possibly take it all in at once, but next time I will know what to look and listen out for!

  5. Kathryn Robertson responded on 28 April 2017 at 9:58am Reply

    My immediate reaction is that I'd like to see it again, with the knowledge that comes from having seen it once. There are no hummable tunes, but there is some arrestingly beautiful orchestral music. The vocal score demands the extremely accomplished cast which has been assembled for this production. It's by no means easy listening, but it's absolutely compelling. The set and the production were wonderfully.

  6. Michael de Navarro responded on 28 April 2017 at 6:40pm Reply

    Went last night and was completely gripped by music and production. Extraordinary cast and the vocal lines were written perfectly for each of their voices. Would very much like to see it again but sadly can't do any of the other 4 nights. Any chance of a revival/film/DVD?

  7. Anne Banks responded on 30 April 2017 at 1:17am Reply

    Terrible, Abigail's party meets Salvador Dali. Well done to everybody who sang it, played it & sat through it. Yes it will live on in my memory , definitely a good dinner party story. Of course the jokes on us.

  8. Stephen Ratcliffe responded on 2 May 2017 at 9:10am Reply

    Great evening. Fabulous ensembles and dazzling score. Hope it is being filmed. Will have to see it again. Bonus we saw the sheep leaving as we walked passed stage door.

  9. Steve Wills responded on 4 May 2017 at 12:22pm Reply

    I really hoped I'd enjoy this, but I didn't. Different aesthetics for different folks I guess, but apart from the odd moment of genuine humour and ear catching music, I found a lot of it quite ugly, especially the writing for high (shrieking) soprano and painfully laboured delivery of some sung phrases. It was a short opera but felt like a long tedious evening and the modern fetish for meaningless absurdity leaves me rather cold. The cast and orchestra did their best with a work that came across as overly self-conscious and quite lacking in any redeeming humanity... watching it felt a bit like being stuck inside a zoo that had seen better days, the gates locked, and sad rather bedraggled animals cowering in caged corners from the wind and rain. I found it depressing.

  10. Richard Thomson responded on 6 May 2017 at 9:57am Reply

    Loved the frocks and the stratospheric tessitura but, for me on a first hearing, most of the music lay just above strongly-declaimed recitative and didn't get anywhere significant enough. I thought the production was unimaginative: too "naturalist", not stylised enough, for an opera based on a "surrealist" subject. Direction was little more than shuffling an awful lot of principal singers around. There were no strong overlying concepts or images. The one big part of the set - the enormous arch - was just a bit clumsy. Surely it needed a bit of a more wacky approach? Was it offered to Richard Jones or Peter Sellars? Still, it was worth hearing and seeing.

    As an aside, is this the first opera to highlight the issue of queuing for the ladies' toilets in theatres or did I make that up? I was quite a long was from the stage but it made me laugh.

  11. David Allen responded on 7 May 2017 at 3:24am Reply

    Absorbing evening. So gripped by this drama. Superbly staged and conducted ( of course). Then the cast. Wow what a group of A list stars. An incredible line up of talent coping with a very difficult score. I have to say vocal honours go to Amanda Eschalaz coping with hugely scored vocal line with a high dramatic tessitora which she coped with with ease. This house must use this amazing voice again very soon ( casting director take note please). Add to that an almost impossible vocal line for Audrey Luna (I think there was a three times A top in it). The rest of the cast just luxury. Just have a look at the cast list. Wonderful night here. Just loved it. Congratulations to all concerned especially to Mr. Ades great work sir.

  12. Jane Garratt responded on 7 May 2017 at 8:59am Reply

    I wanted to enjoy this, I really did, but it simply didn't work for me. It took me a while to realise it was being sung in English because the music obscured the voices. The notable exception to this was John Tomlinson whose every word was clear, but most of what he was singing was more like the spoken voice, more recitative than aria..

    The plot didn't seem to have much development - OK, people stuck in a small space without food or water tend to become more savage and less civilised. But the individual characters didn't seem to evolve in in any meaningful way. The music was difficult to listen too, often very loud and repetitive. I couldn't find any overall development of themes in this either.

    And I find myself more and more uneasy about why a composer writes music that sounds and feels as though it might be damaging the voice of the singer. OK, it was a masterstroke to give Ariel in the Tempest such a high and unearthly pitched voice, but what was the point of giving Leticia this?

    Overall, there's something not quite working for an audience when you have such a stellar cast, but the most enthusiastic applause is for the orchestra.

  13. Malcolm Fawcett responded on 7 May 2017 at 9:20am Reply

    A privilege to witness a modern masterpiece>Have loved ADES' other pieces but tghis his finest to date!
    and WHAT a cast!!
    ALL superb so invidious to ;pick out AMANDA ECHALAZ who must be as fine a spinto soprano as there is anywhere in the world
    i hope ROH use her a lot more to fill gaps in the repertory where her voice,great use

  14. Malcolm Fawcett responded on 8 May 2017 at 3:58pm Reply

    Great acting talent/ Physical beauty/Commitment will be put to GREAT use to the benefit of us all!!

  15. Molly responded on 21 September 2017 at 4:46pm Reply

    Why would one write an opera in such a clumsy language as English?

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