At the age of only twenty-four, the British composer Thomas Adès was commissioned by the Cheltenham Music Festival to write his first opera, Powder Her Face. Thanks to its brilliantly diverse and mature score, in which we can find various influences, from cabaret and jazz to Weill, Stravinsky and Berg, it kick-started the composer’s international career and is still one of his most frequently performed works today. In colourful episodes, the opera presents the fascinating rise and fall of the notorious beauty Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll, whose sexual appetite and scandalous divorce in 1963 were the talk of high society in Great Britain. Although the opera’s premiere was received very positively, it also became notorious due to its frank detailing of the duchess’s sex life. The British radio station Classic FM even deliberated over the appropriateness of broadcasting an opera which musically depicted oral sex. Today, however, with over two hundred performances, it is considered a modern classic.
Czech premiere of Powder Her Face
Scandal in real life and on stage. Powder Her Face is a chamber opera in two acts by the British composer Thomas Adès, with an English libretto by Philip Hensher.