The keen-eared critic David Shengold attended The Tempest at the Met last night. Not able to make the performance myself, I asked him for a brief report on the mood in the house, and he generously complied. His full review will appear in another publication at a later date.
The Met's third performance of Thomas Adès's 2004 Tempest took place in extraordinary conditions: the city had been virtually closed for two days for the most destructive local storm since 1938, with the most flooding since 1821 at Battery Park (site of Swedish cult diva Jenny Lind's bayside U.S. debut, the Beatles-playing-Ed Sullivan cultural event of 1850). Millions hereabouts remained in darkness; the crucial subway system remained inactive. The Met's Figaro, with its ghastly female leading trio, was mercifully skipped Monday; less happily, on Hurricane Sandy Day Zero Tuesday, the second-cast Turandot, with Irène Theorin's first local Ice Princess and Janai Brugger's much-awaited Met debut as Liù, got scotched, along with the in-house orchestral rehearsal for Harry Bicket's impressively cast Clemenza di Tito.
But, amazingly, last night, composer/conductor Adès (who in a random pre-show encounter confessed himself haunted by the televised image of the sinking H.M.S. Bounty), the orchestral musicians, the entire cast (not one of the eleven listed singers was missing), a sufficient crew, and a decent-sized, by Met terms youth-skewed audience for—hey, look, Ma, a workable and striking Robert Lepage production!—got themselves there to enact or witness a narrative that begins with a sinking ship, high winds, and apparent loss of life, and ends with the hope of lives mended within reason, and—for the island's dazed longtime inhabitants, as well as the frightened visitors from far away—restored tranquility.
— David Shengold