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  • Review Colloquy:The Exterminating Angel
  • Christopher Morris (bio), Áine Sheil (bio), Candida Mantica (bio), João Pedro Cachopo (bio), Laura Tunbridge (bio), and Francesca Placanica (bio)

Met Live in HD, November 18, 2017

  • Music: Thomas Adès

  • Libretto: Tom Cairns, in collaboration with the composer, based on the screenplay

  • by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza

  • Conductor: Thomas Adès

  • Director: Tom Cairns

  • Set and Costume Design: Hildegard Bechtler

  • Lighting Design: Jon Clark

  • Projection Design: Tal Yarden

  • Choreography: Amir Hosseinpour

  • Video Director: Gary Halvorson

  • Edmundo de Nobile: Joseph Kaiser

  • Lucía de Nobile: Amanda Echalaz

  • Leticia Maynar: Audrey Luna

  • Leonora Palma: Alice Coote

  • Silvia de Ávila: Sally Matthews

  • Francisco de Ávila: Iestyn Davies

  • Blanca Delgado: Christine Rice

  • Alberto Roc: Rod Gilfry

  • Beatriz: Sophie Bevan

  • Eduardo: David Portillo

  • Raúl Yebenes: Frédéric Antoun

  • Colonel Álvaro Gómez: David Adam Moore

  • Señor Russell: Kevin Burdette

  • Dr. Carlos Conde: Sir John Tomlinson [End Page 355]

Editorial Introduction

The pages of The Opera Quarterly have featured individual and panel reviews of opera in performance both in its traditional theatrical domain and on video, including reports from individual critics and from panels assembled to review a single production or series of productions on DVD. What follows represents aspects of all of the above. Recognizing the value of critical engagement with specific events for this themed issue on cinecasts, we commissioned a panel to review a performance featured in the Met Live in HD series. Following the traditional arrangement for performance reviews, each panelist would attend the event individually and submit an independent review to the editors. But new means of disseminating performance call for new means of critical engagement, and we recognized an opportunity to experiment with the review format. So, while the reviewers were indeed attending and reporting individually, they were in fact attending the same event at the same time in five different cities in three countries. And rather than publish the reviews as a series of individual reports, we have tried to reflect the simultaneity of the events described by fashioning the reviews, with the permission of the writers, into a dialogue, or what we are calling here a "colloquy."

The date was November 18, 2017, the time 5:55pm GMT, the event a live transmission from New York City of The Exterminating Angel. Why The Exterminating Angel? After all, contemporary work (the opera premiered in 2016) isn't typical fare for the Met Live in HD or any other series of live cinema relays of opera, which tend to feature the same safe repertoire that fills seats in their respective operatic motherships. That the latest Adès was unlikely to fill the Met's network of suburban—or even urban—movie theaters was something of a foregone conclusion, and the comments by the reviewers on empty seats bear this out. But what it lacked in popularity, The Exterminating Angel made up for in media buzz. A new work by one of the most celebrated composers working today was to be a significant event for the Met, and the publicity machine was in overdrive—judging by the advance press coverage, it succeeded. How, we wondered, would the event match the expectations of our reviewers, who, by November 18, could not have escaped the flow of publicity? Above all, though, it is the provenance of the opera that seemed to single it out as fertile territory for critical assessment in this context. For The Exterminating Angel is an operatic adaptation of Luis Buñuel's surrealist film El 'angel exterminador (1962), and the opportunity to reflect on this media traversal from film into cinemas by way of opera seemed too good to pass up. It's an opportunity that our reviewers evidently sensed and grasped.

Christopher Morris [End Page 356]

Setting the Scene

João Pedro Cachopo (AMC River East, Chicago, IL)

The Exterminating Angel, the third and most recent opera by composer Thomas Adès, emblematizes a turnabout in the way we have come to imagine the interaction between opera and film: as an inevitably secularizing, one-way voyage from stage to screen. Indeed, films based on preexisting operas, or re-creating them as films...


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