The Exterminating Angel a surrealistic experience

Christian Van Horn as Julio, David Adam Moore as Col. Álvaro Gómez, Rod Gilfry (partially hidden) as Alberto Roc, Audrey Luna as Leticia Maynar, Iestyn Davies (mostly hidden) as Francisco de Ávila, Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila, Alice Coote as Leonora Palma, Amanda Echalaz as Lucia de Nobile, and Joseph Kaiser as Edmundo de Nobile in Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel.” Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Exterminating Angel a surrealistic experience

from Metropolitan Opera in New York

Seen the performance at the cinema Spegeln in Malmoe, Sweden on 18.11.2017

Music and conductor: Thomas Adès | Libretto and producer: Tom Cairns | Scenography & costume: Hildegard Bechtler | Lighting: Jon Clark | Projections: Tal Yarden | Choreography: Amir Hosseinpour | Contributors: Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan, Alice Coote, Christina Rice, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Frédéric Antoum, David Portillo, David Adam Moore, Rod Gilfry, Kevin Burdette, Christian van Horn, John Tomlinson |

The Exterminating Angel is Thomas Adès third opera and it was premiered at the Salzburg Festival last year and is a co-production between the Salzburg Festival, Metropolitan Opera in New York, ROH in London and the Royal Theater Operaen in Copenhagen. The performance can be experienced in Copenhagen in spring 2018, including two Swedish sopranos Kerstin Avemo and Sara Swietlicki.

About the action: After an evening at the opera, an exclusive dinner is organized for a group of prominent guests. After dinner, guests discover that they can not come out of the dining-room where they will be locked in for several days. Meanwhile, the fine people lose their mask and they turn into behaviors like animals, for instance, by trying to break down the weakest among them in the group. They are slaughtering a lamb and preparing the lamb over an open fire in the dining room

Like Björn Ekblom, a opera friend of mine in Lidköping, I experienced the live broadcast of Thomas Adé’s third opera The Exterminating Angel in various cinemas. Björn became fascinated and continues to describe his experience by finding out that he probably did not perceive more than half the symbolism of this surrealist history.

From the outset, I had decided not to try to understand the symbolism, but merely enjoy listening to the music and just enjoy the voices. It was an easy choice, not least because Luiz Bunuel himself never wanted to discuss or explain his films.

If it feels necessary to understand the symbolism, I think you have to start by looking at two of Bunuel’s films and of course then starting with the Exterminating Angel and maybe the Bourgeois’s discreet charm that came ten years after the Exterminating Angel. Add some Salvador Dali and maybe you’ll get a bit on your way …

After a good night’s sleep, despite the opera experience, I think the originators  want to show us that we are basically all people and that we can behave like animals in unknown and distressed situations, but also that the division into finer people and other people is not particularly relevant.

Basically, we are all human beings and we can behave like animals no matter what social class we belong to or maybe it is about describing the bourgeoisie as a worse sort of a poorer kind of people especially as we sometimes believe that finer people are better than we others?

Musically, it was no easy experience to take on, but I was certainly impressed by the Metropolitan Orchestra as usual and along with the eminent opera-singers it was one of the highlights of the performance.

The most impressed were the amazing voices, but with a group of 15 vocalists it’s not easy to name everyone. Certainly I have experienced some of them earlier, several times, but it is still difficult to name everyone.

Audrey Luna, Christina Rice but also Alice Coote impressed especially among the ladies this stated without in any way impairing other efforts.

Among the gentlemen, I was impressed mainly by the bass John Tomlinson, but I’m also particularly fond of countertenors, so Iestyn Davies gets high on the favorite list. One of the tenors, Frédéric Antoun or David Portillo, also impressed me and I would like to hear more from him.

Now I’m waiting to experience the set at The Royal Theater in Copenhagen in spring 2018 and until then I’ve managed to melt yesterday’s opera experience!

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