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Jeremy Sams

Publisher: G. Schirmer

The Enchanted Island (2011)
Work Notes
Pastiche of works by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others
Text Writer
Jeremy Sams after plays of Shakespeare
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Grand Opera
Year Composed
2 Hours 50 Minutes
SATB chorus (40 voices), 28 Dancers, 6 Supernumeraries
Solo Instrument(s)
3S, 2Mz, 2Ct, 2T, Bar, B-bar
Programme Note
Jeremy Sams The Enchanted Island (2011)
The Enchanted Island
Devised and written by Jeremy Sams

A new work inspired by the Baroque pastiches of the 18th century, The Enchanted Island features a trove of vocal gems by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others and a delightful new libretto in English by Jeremy Sams. The Metropolitan Opera's fresh and entertaining celebration of the Baroque has been created by Sams, a noted translator, director, and composer, to showcase the talents of conductor William Christie and a cast of remarkable Baroque singers: David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Danielle de Niese, Luca Pisaroni, and Plácido Domingo. The production was directed by Phelim McDermott and associate director/designer Julian Crouch (Satyagraha, Shockheaded Peter, and the Met's 125th Anniversary Gala). The Enchanted Island had its premiere at the Met on New Year's Eve 2011.

The Enchanted Island combines elements of Shakespeare's The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Exiled to a remote island, The Tempest 's Prospero seeks to reconcile with his family and ensure his daughter Miranda's future through her marriage to Prince Ferdinand. He promises to grant his sprite servant Ariel his freedom if he can bring Ferdinand's ship to the island. But instead, Ariel shipwrecks the four honeymooning lovers from A Midsummer Night's Dream by mistake, mismatching them romantically with Miranda and Caliban, Prospero's slave. Meanwhile, Caliban schemes with his mother, the disgraced sorceress Sycorax, to regain control of the island, which Prospero seized from her years before. In the end, it is left to the sea god Neptune to intervene and bring Ferdinand's ship to the island, where the young prince delivers the king's pardon to Prospero and falls in love with Miranda on first sight. Prospero must then seek forgiveness from Sycorax so that harmony may reign and all may celebrate a new time of peace and joy.
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World Premiere
   December 31, 2011
   The Metropolitan Opera
   New York, NY

   PROSPERO, David Daniels Countertenor
   SYCORAX, Joyce DiDonato Mezzo Soprano
   ARIEL, Danielle de Niese Soprano
   CALIBAN, Luca Pisaroni Bass-baritone
   MIRANDA, Lisette Oropesa Soprano
   NEPTUNE, Plácido Domingo Tenor
   FERDINAND, Anthony Roth Costanzo Countertenor
   HELENA, Layla Claire Soprano
   HERMIA, Elizabeth DeShong Mezzo Soprano
   DEMETRIUS, Paul Appleby Tenor
   LYSANDER, Elliot Madore Baritone

Creative Team
   Devised and written by: Jeremy Sams
   Conductor: William Christie
   Director: Phelim McDermott
   Associate Director and Set Designer: Julian Crouch
   Costume designer: Kevin Pollard
   Lighting designer: Brian MacDevitt
   Choreographer: Graciela Daniele
   Musical Advisor: Ellen Rosand

"A true feast for the eyes and the ears, enhanced by the dreamlike images of a staging that delighted again and again with every new scene and always served the music."
Fred Plotkin , Das Opernglas,01/03/2012
“The Enchanted Island”, a lavishly zany production now playing at the Met (it will be broadcast in the company’s “Live in HD” series on Jan. 21), revives the concept of the Baroque pastiche opera, with extant scores repurposed to fresh dramatic ends. As Handel might have done when pressed for time, the writer and director Jeremy Sams has devised new words for a slew of Baroque arias both famous and obscure, spinning a semi-Shakespearean tale. (Essentially, a spell-casting mixup lands the lovers from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the island of “The Tempest.”) The libretto runs long and waxes cutesy, but it has its charms, and the music is terrific: a cast led by Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Luca Pisaroni, and the godlike Plácido Domigo revels in Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and Purcell, among others, with William Christie conducting stylishly and Phelim McDermott providing witty direction. Let’s hope this project creates more of an appetite for Baroque fare at the Met.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker,23/01/2012
The fact that this show is called a “pastiche” has, I believe, served to diminish the way it is thought of by many people who consider themselves serious operagoers. “Pastiche” has come to mean a tossing together of some of this and some of that. But this is anything but a frothy confection. It is entertaining, to be sure, but also deeply affecting and often mesmerizing. The Enchanted Island works because it seems to have been forged as a common vision by all of its creators -- musicians, writers, directors, designers. It is a perfect storm, a series of elements that combine just so and create something great, gorgeous and awesome. The work has musical and intellectual rigor, done with an 18th-century sense of optimism, balance and lightness. There are two acts, a suspenseful story with many surprises, a witty and well-choreographed (Graciela Daniele) dream ballet for Caliban, of all people, and a congruent arrangement of arias, duets, sung passages, recitatives and a notable relation between key signatures as the music moves along.
Fred Plotkin, WQXR,17/01/2012
Forget "Auld Lang Syne." The best music to ring in a new year is "Now a bright new day is dawning," the joyous chorus that ends The Enchanted Island, the inventive concoction that had its premiere on Saturday night at the Metropolitan Opera. The music for this finale is lifted from the "Hallelujah" chorus that concludes Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus. The new words are by the librettist Jeremy Sams, who devised the story and assembled this fanciful, clever and touching pastiche by selecting arias, ensembles, choruses and dances from works by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and lesser-known Baroque composers.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,01/01/2012
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