Edmundo De Nobile, host.......Joseph Kaiser
Lucía De Nobile, hostess......Amanda Echalaz
Leticia Maynar, guest of honor...
Leonora Palma, flirts with Doctor Conde.....Alice Coote
Silvia De Ávila, sister of Francisco.........Sally Matthews
Francisco De Ávila, countertenor, brother of Silvia......Iestyn Davies
Blanca Delgado, pianist......Christine Rice
Alberto Roc, conductor.............Rod Gilfry
Beatriz, engaged to Eduardo..........Sophie Bevan
Eduardo, engaged to Beatriz..........David Portillo
Raúl Yebenes, explorer............Frédéric Antoun
Colonel Álvaro Gómez, Lucia's lover....David Adam Moore
Señor Russell...........Kevin Burdette
Doctor Carlos Conde.....John Tomlinson
Padre Sansón............Jeff Mattsey
Yoli, child.................Lucas Mann
The Metropolitan Opera live streamed The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès. The opera is based on the 1962 film by Luis Buñuel which I have never seen. In the 60s there was a global movement in art movies of which this is a representative.
I didn't prepare for this opera, and that turned out to be fortuitous. When the ending came, I was pleasingly surprised. Many of the cast were in the premiere at Salzburg in 2016.
Some guests have been to a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor and are invited to an after party. One of the guests, Leticia, performed Lucia in the opera. Right away the servants begin to flee. No explanation is offered. Then after the dinner the guests find they cannot leave. Again no explanation is offered.
Apparently Adès has been obsessed with this subject for some years and finally received permission. He is a composer in the modernist style with screeching sopranos and jumpy melodic lines. I don't find it particularly attractive. I did enjoy seeing and hearing the Ondes Martenot which was shown in closeup being played. There was a lot of drumming. At times it seemed like a comedy. It wasn't as grotesque as I had imagined.
Over the course of the opera Russell and Beatriz die. The guests dig a hole in the floor and water comes up. The brother and sister seem to be romantically attracted to each other. An unknown amount of time passes. There were live sheep at the beginning which were eaten when everyone was starving. There was someone hovering in the air above one of the women who might have been the exterminating angel himself.
For no apparent reason everyone decided to repeat exactly what they did when they arrived, and this seemed to break the spell. They could then leave as though nothing had happened.
This is supposed to be a great opera but there are far too many characters. It did make me curious to see the movie. Alice Coote thought it was a parable on life which is also entirely without explanation. We are here. We cannot leave. We don't know why. Forgive me if I have misquoted her intentions.
I am not likely to ever be a fan of Thomas Adès. For me opera is about singing which never became interesting. People admire his orchestration and that is both the virtue and the fault of this piece. Instead of composing for singers, he has simply orchestrated them. At least in The Tempestthere was the charming music for Ariel, but I heard nothing here that I would wish to ever hear again. I would advise any high soprano to refuse any offers to sing this. It can't possibly be good for your voice.