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Thomas Adès / Thomas Adès POWDER HER FACE / Thomas Adès / Buck, Norman, Broadbent [DVD]

Notes & Reviews:

Thomas Ades wrote the chamber opera Powder Her Face in 1995, at the age of 24, to a joint commission from London's Almeida Opera and the Cheltenham Festival. Its success, together with a string of other compositions, brought Ades real international recognition and resulted in him being hailed as the next Benjamin Britten. Since its première, it has been produced in America, Australia and throughout Europe, repeatedly generating press excitement. To a libretto by Philip Hensher, the piece is based on the life of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, a woman brazenly avaricious for money and sexual experience but whose story, Ades says, shows that "even horrible people are tragic". In the early 1990s, the aged and isolated duchess is seen living at London's Dorchester Hotel, oblivious to her now straitened financial circumstances and her imminent eviction. A series of flashbacks to her colourful past in the '30s, '50s and '60s, is enacted by three hotel workers who, in the present, treat her with barely-concealed derision. Ades's brilliant score incorporates skewed imitations of the popular music of her prime: tangos, tea dances, and Cole Porteresque songs. The fifteen strong orchestra consists of clarinets, saxophones, brass, strings, accordion and percussion, an ensemble similar to the dance bands of yesteryear. Adapted and filmed specially for television in studio and on location, David Alden's production boasts authentically lavish period settings.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 161 min.
Region: 1
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3, Color
Sound Format(s): Dolby 2.0,
Country of Origin: USA


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