I've seen many versions of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," but the Met's new production of "The Tempest" which airs on PBG Great Performances at the Met on Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 12 noon (check local listings) is the first to show the aging magician as a hunk. Fans of Lepage's style will want to see this because he's made this "Tempest" big and grand and impeccably dressed.
Simon Keenlyside created this role for the world premiere of British composer Thomas Ades's adaptation of Shakespeare's final play in 2004. The London-born Keenlyside is 53 and begins the opera bare-chested with various colorful faux tattoos all over his body. The tattoos represent the spells and incantations. As a cloak, he has his old royal coat slung over one shoulder with an impressive array of medals.
Audrey Luna plays the air spirit Ariel along with a double who does the acrobatics at the beginning (handing from a chandelier). Luna does appear in what amounts to a fancy full-body suit that has been bedazzled. She is toned and ready for the demands of her airy role which requires the use of a harness.
Alan Oke as the monstrous Caliban also wears a body suit of sorts and has more of a back story which makes him more sympathetic.
Alek Shrader is Ferdinand, the shipwrecked prince and Isabel Leonard is Prospero's daughter Miranda. They do make a lovely couple together and certainly you can feel the anguish of a father's loss and jealousy as well as the confrontation with agining in Keenlyside's Prospero.
Ades conducts the Met premiere of his piece and while I'm not a fan of his music, the production has the added merits of Lepage's direction and the set designs of Jasmine Catudal and costume designer Kym Barrett. Lepage has made Prospero a 19th century impresario. As the exiled Duke of Milan Lepage's Prospero has recreated the La Scala opera house on his little island. Yes...we've got an opera house within an opera house.
The court is filled with dashing men and lovely ladies. You'd want to join that party.
So take time to see this visually stunning opera. After the initial showing on Sunday, it should be available on-demand.