How enchanting is Met’s Enchanted Island?
by Christie Connolley
Enchanted Island aka Baroque’s Greatest Hits: The Metropolitan Opera spent so much time and money assembling an operatic adaptation of The Tempest, you wonder why it didn’t just commission a composer to write a new one. Well, Thomas Adès did that not long ago. Instead, the Met cobbled together its latest premiere, The Enchanted Island, from existing arias by Handel, Vivaldi, and others – guaranteeing delivery on the operatic basics: fine, voice-friendly music; stars to sing it; and scenic effects that prompt their own ovations.
Someone got an A+ in Music History: What the piece really needs is stronger musical strategy. Though Baroque conductor William Christie maintains good Baroque style, the opera lacks an 18th-century underlying trajectory. Then, musical logic was driven by a progression of key signatures, creating a subliminal carrot-on-a-stick effect. Lacking that, The Enchanted Island‘s three-hour-plus length is hard to take and puts a greater burden on singers to seize attention.
Double snap in a Z formation: “…not a single uncharged nanosecond came from DiDonato as the sorceress Sycorax; her exciting, accurate vocalism was matched by her knack for flamboyant theatrics.