The Exterminating Angel


Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel opera to libretto by Tom Cairns. Directed 2017 by Tom Cairns at the Met. Stars Joseph Kaiser (Edmundo de Nobile), Amanda Echalaz (Lucía de Nobile), Audrey Luna (Leticia Maynar), Alice Coote (Leonora Palma), Sally Matthews (Silvia de Ávila), Iestyn Davies (Francisco de Ávila), Christine Rice (Blanca Delgado), Rod Gilfry (Alberto Roc), Sophie Bevan (Beatriz), David Portillo (Eduardo), Frédéric Antoun (Raúl Yebenes), David Adam Moore (Colonel Álvaro Gómez), Kevin Burdette (Señor Russel), Sir John Tomlinson (Doctor Carlos Conde), Christian Van Horn (Julio), John Irvin (Lucas), Ian Koziara (Enrique), Paul Corona (Pablo), Mary Dunleavy (Meni), Catherine Cook (Camila), Andrea Coleman, Marc Persing, (Servants), Jeff Mattsey (Padre Sansón) and Lucas Mann (Yoli). Thomas Adès conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Chorus Master Donald Palumbo). Set and costume design by Hildegard Bechtler; lighting design by Jon Clark; projection design by Tal Yarden; choreography by Amir Hosseinpour. Directed for TV by Gary Halvorson; music production by David Frost. Supervising Producers were Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park; Producers were Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

This is an opera remake of Luis Buñuel's motion picture The Exterminating Angel (1962) about a disastrous dinner party which the hosts and guest are unable to leave. The movie was, per Roger Ebert, “a macabre comedy, a mordant view of human nature that suggests we harbor savage instincts and unspeakable secrets.” Viewers who knew about Buñuel's life would understand that the movie was an allegory about the horrors of life in Spain under General Franco. Andrew Mellor, who saw this live, it seems, in New York and Copenhagen, suggests in the April Gramophone at page 108 that this “beast” of an opera is too fragmented, complicated, and difficult to be successful in live production. Ironically, he feels that the “magnificent” HDVD directed by Gary Halvorson is easier to enjoy than seeing this live, especially since you have to see this a bunch of times to track it. This suggests to us that buying this title might be a good speculation on it becoming a valuable collector’s item. Or if this doesn’t happen, you can as a fan of contemporary opera, enjoy comparing the opera to Buñuel's movie!

If we can ever retire from our day job, we might try to compare the old movie to the new opera (roughly) scene by scene! Does adding 24 opera singers, a chorus, and a vast orchestra add anything? Or if you would do this and help us with some screenshots, we would be excited to publish what you find out.

Here’s an official trailer from the Metropolitan Opera