A baroque pastiche with a shipwreck, what could be better?

On New Year’s Eve, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera premiered The Enchanted Island to rave reviews. With its digital shipwreck and Plácido Domingo playing Neptune only one word comes to mind–sweet!  As the New York Times reviewer wrote:

librettist Jeremy Sams… devised the story and assembled this fanciful, clever and touching pastiche by selecting arias, ensembles, choruses and dances from works by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and lesser-known Baroque composers…

The story he devised, conflating elements of two Shakespeare plays with wit and charm, centers on Prospero, the brooding hero of “The Tempest,” an exiled duke of Milan who lives on a remote island with his devoted daughter, Miranda, and spends his days immersed in books containing formulas for potions and magic spells. Here the sorceress Sycorax, only mentioned in Shakespeare, is Prospero’s former lover and a central character. Prospero has banished Sycorax to the dark realm of the island, stolen her spirit servant, Ariel, and forced her savage son, Caliban, into servitude.

Hoping to ensure Miranda’s future and end his exile, Prospero conceives a plan to have Ariel create a storm that will wash ashore a passing ship bearing Prince Ferdinand, whom Prospero hopes to match with Miranda. But the spell is sabotaged by Sycorax, and another ship, bearing the four Athenian lovers from Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is beset. A matrix of mismatched romantic pairings ensues on the island, due to Ariel’s hapless applications of love potions.

Want to see more? check out this video from the New York Timesmetropolitan-pastiche.html


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Filed under Announcement, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch

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