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The Exterminating Angel Poster

The Exterminating Angel

Closed May 8, 2017

It takes some daring for a composer to choose a classic film as a subject for an opera. Comparisons are inevitable. But not much intimidates the prodigious British composer Thomas Ades

The New York Times

Why See The Exterminating Angel?

Thomas Ades brings his acclaimed opera to ROH

Luis Bunuel's iconic film masterpiece provides the basis for this haunting opera, which first premiered at the Salzberg Festival in 2016. Homegrown composer Thomas Ades' pioneering opera follows his previously acclaimed works Powder Her Face (1995) and The Tempest (2004) and underlines the macabre comedy of the story with deeper symbolism of human nature gone wild. Directed by Tom Cairns, a world-class ensemble cast (to be announced) will sing the roles of the tortured souls trapped in that dining room.

A bourgeious group of friends have enjoyed a night at the opera, and have been invited to a late supper by their hosts. The wine flows, the food is sumptuous; all in the making of a perfect evening. However things take a disturbing turn at the end of the meal as they attempt to leave the room; physically there is nothing stopping them - the problem appears to be psychological. As hours turn into days, the previously civilised diners descend into anarchy and terror; one of them dies but they are unable to remove the body. Two others agree to a suicide pact; there is a brief respite when their repeated actions allow them to return to normal. However, this short-lived joy is cut short and they remain trapped.

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Additional Information


Opening night: 24 April 2017


Suitable for ages 12+

Run time

Two hours 40 minutes, including one interval.

Cast and Creative


Music by Thomas Ades
Libretto by Tom Cairns after Luis Bunuel and Luis Alcoriza
Directed by Tom Cairns
Set and costume design by Hildegard Bechtler
Lighting design by Jon Clark
Video design by Tal Yarden
Choreography by Amir Hosseinpour

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