In 1963, a public sex scandal shocked Britain. Librettist Philip Hensher inspired the 23-year-old Thomas Adès to compose the music of the soaring opera of the fall of the Duchess of Argyll, a libertine and notorious socialite beauty.
”You could have a blow job aria – begins with words, ends with humming”. It’s by telling him this that the young librettist Philip Henscher convinced Thomas Adès, only aged 23, to write the music of the chamber opera POWDER HER FACE.
Adès’s playful score employs and transforms popular idioms of cabaret, musicals and tango while paying homage to Berg and Stravinsky. “Be discreet, be good, be brutal” – That is the motto of the reckless but exploited duchess.
Renowned film and opera director Mariusz Treliński has devised a dazzling staging of this critique of middle-class moral conventions. The Duchess provides a virtuoso role for soprano Allison Cook and the other three singers demonstrate their versatility in multiple incarnations.
A sex scandal that shocked Britain. In his opera POWDER HER FACE, composer Thomas Adès paints an empathetic, moving, as well as shocking portrait of Margaret Campbell, the infamous Duchess of Argyll, whose life kept the British tabloids in suspense up until her death in 1990.
Mariuzs Trelinski, stage director of POWDER HER FACE, talks about his relationship to opera and his approach on Thomas Adès' work.