Adès, The Tempest, S. Keenlyside, C. Sieden, I. Bostridge, K. Royal, T. Spence, P. Langridge, Covent Garden, T. Adès
(released on June 30, 2009)
EMI 50999 6 95234 2 7
The sounds of stage movement, occasional odd balances and vocal blemishes, and audience noise are an unfortunate fact of live recording. Toby Spence, who does beautiful, lyrical things with the role of Ferdinand, has admitted that, at first, many of the singers who created the opera were not sure that what Adès intended for them to do was even possible. This is especially true of the outrageous role for the air spirit Ariel, so memorably created in a frothy, even at times squeaky -- entirely otherworldly -- way by fearless soprano Cyndia Sieden. Hearing her live was a heart-stopping experience, something that is not possible to capture in recording. The monster Caliban had similar challenges, with some of the extremely high notes rendered in an almost hissing falsetto by Ian Bostridge. The one slightly weak link in the Santa Fe cast was Prospero, here sung with magisterial authority by the role's creator, Simon Keenlyside, who will reportedly also take the role in the production of The Tempest planned for the fall of 2012 at the Metropolitan Opera, with (one can only hope) a DVD to follow. As good as it would be to have a studio recording of better quality for this gorgeous opera, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.