Thomas Adès, one of today’s most important composers, is leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a programme brimming with sensual flirtation and fashionable ladies in sizzling scandals. Dutch premieres of works by Gerald Barry and Adès himself are juxtaposed with ballet music by Debussy and Poulenc.
Thomas Adès has compiled a new symphonic suite from orchestrated excerpts from his successful chamber opera Powder Her Face. This rather explicit opera about the English ‘Dirty Duchess’ Margaret Campbell, whose extravagant clothes made her a style icon, caused a stir in 1995 and was even deemed unsuitable for broadcast. This evening marks the Dutch premiere of the suite, and of the Irish composer Gerald Barry’s one-act The stronger. Both works also feature a highly imaginative mise en espace.
A century before, two erotically charged ballets were created for the famous company the Ballets Russes in Paris. With its subtle musical innovations, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune won fame particularly for its dream-like, sultry atmosphere which perfectly matched Vaslav Nijinsky’s sensual and sensational choreography. Flirtation and naughty games play a central role in the ballet Les biches, which Poulenc wrote for choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, Nijinsky’s sister. The music stands alone as a wonderfully uncomplicated way to round off the programme.