A rare rave for Exterminating Angel

A rare rave for Exterminating Angel


norman lebrecht

July 31, 2016

Fiona Maddocks, sparing with her five stars, was utterly uplifted by the new Thomas Ades opera at Salzburg.

The world premiere of The Exterminating Angel by the British composer Thomas Adès (b 1971), long on the horizon, keenly awaited, took place on Thursday at the Haus für Mozart. It was the opening opera of the illustrious Salzburg festival, held in the city in which Mozart was born. (It is obligatory to add that he hated the place.) Salzburg has co-commissioned Adès’s new work, together with the Royal Opera Covent Garden (where it opens next spring), the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Royal Danish Opera. A 22-strong cast, including Amanda Echalaz, Anne Sofie von Otter, Sally Matthews, Christine Rice and Thomas Allen, gave a superb ensemble performance. When the composer, who also conducted, took his bow, the audience rose in prolonged ovation. This was a momentous evening: a turning point for Adès and, it felt, for opera itself. I am happy to put my neck on the line.

Full review here.



  • Halldor says:

    The term “Succes d’Estime” could have been coined for Thomas Ades at this point in his career.

  • William Safford says:

    Interestingly enough, Stephen Sondheim is preparing his own “Exterminating Angel.”

    I look forward to hearing both Adès’s and Sondheim’s next year.

    • David Nice says:

      Seriously? Also based on the film? Can you expand?

      Having just seen it, Halldor, I’d say it’s more than a succes d’estime – and I was no great fan of The Tempest. The vocal writing lets it down a bit, but the orchestral sounds and the dramaturgy are compelling – and the 16 principals, yes, are all superb. What an ensemble.

      • David Nice says:

        William, I followed up your news. And it seems you’re right – a fusion of The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. I imagine Sondheim will meld the light with the dark, Company meets Sweeney Todd – that should be something. But it won’t cancel out the achievement here, for all its faults.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Having such a large cast won’t help it be performed more often.