The Exterminating Angel
By Thomas Adès, libretto by Tom Cairns
An Opera in Three Acts
Adès's third opera, The Exterminating Angel, premiered at the Salzburg Festival in July 2016. Based on Luis Buñuel's surrealist classic El ángel exterminador, the opera sees a collection of society's grandees inexplicably trapped in a room. The libretto, adapted from the original Buñuel-Alcoriza screenplay by the composer together with the director Tom Cairns, brilliantly captures their descent into anarchy. Featuring a jaw-dropping 15 principals (who remain on stage for the majority of the piece), The Exterminating Angel is a true ensemble opera, and the skill with which Adès delineates the many intricacies and undercurrents present over its densely packed span (just under two hours plus interval) is breathtaking.