Culture Magazine

Prospero Vs. The Machine

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

News about next year's Tempest, some of it even factual.

Prospero vs. The Machine

Simon Keenlyside (left) as Prospero menaces Ian Bostridge's Caliban in The Tempest.
Image © 2004 Royal Opera House of Covent Garden

Breaking news (and we mean that literally) from the Metropolitan Opera. In an interview with theater critic richard Ouzounian, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb has confirmed something that those of us who read Bradley Wilbur's now defunct Metropolitan Opera Futures Page already knew.
Robert Lepage will return to the theater to direct the company's first production of Thomas Ades' The Tempest.
Based on the Shakespeare play, Mr. Ades' new opera will feature Simon Keenlyside as Prospero, the wizard who creates a brave new world on a mysterious island. And yes, that's the same "enchanted island" featured in the Met's new pastiche opera, brilliantly titled The Enchanted Island.
I could at this point write something absurd about Mr. Lepage's dramatic vision for mounting The Tempest. And it would look like this:

Prospero vs. The Machine

This is not the set design for The Tempest.

 "Worm Stage" is Met's Latest Challenge
Production of The Tempest will require construction of Lepage's latest stage idea: the "Worm," a 200-foot-long solar-powered stage set constructed entirely from dried rotini pasta, duct tape and glue. 
The set is advertised as the first "environmentally friendly, disposable opera set" and will create a "physically challenging" acting surface for the singers, including Mr. Keenlyside. Asked about where the actors will stand on a stage made from 40 tons of pasta, a stagehand commented "that's what the duct tape is for." He asked to not be identified. To build the $20-million-dollar contraption, the Metropolitan Opera's dogged stage crew will have to drill a 20-foot-wide accessway in the side of the opera house. This will accomodate a 75-foot high stanchion on either side of the building. When asked how the new stanchions will affect the neighboring Vivian Beaumont Theater, press representative T. Musquetier said: "I'm not too worried about it."  The above isn't true. In fact this staging is being done in collaboration with La Scala, who will mount the opera in 2013.
 In another tidbit dropped by Mr. Gelb, the company's new production of Verdi's Falstaff will be directed by Des McAnuff, the Tony Award-winning director of Jersey Boys. Mr. McAnuff is currently putting the finishing touches on his new production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
The director will be back in New York toface the music (and the audience) tomorrow. His new production of Faust, which updates Goethe's drama to the atomic age for some reason, has its premiere tomorrow night.

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