New York City Opera; Powder Her Face

Composed by Thomas Adés
Conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer
Directed by Jay Scheib

Sets by Marsha Ginsberg
Costumes by Alba Clemente
Lighting by Thomas Dunn
Projections by Josh Higgason

Inspired by the real-life sex scandal that rocked Britain in the early 60s, English composer Thomas Adès' 1995 chamber opera returns to BAM 15 years after its New York premiere at the BAM Majestic Theater (now the BAM Harvey Theater).  In this new production from New York City Opera, director Jay Scheib presents his genre-defying vision, integrating technology and daring physicality to this modern opera that plays off the public's obsession with the tabloid controversy surrounding a series of Polaroid photos of Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, dubbed the “Dirty Duchess.” Through the prism of Campbell’s life story, and featuring Phillip Hensher's libretto, Powder Her Face explores the intersection of gender, politics, and power.
The "phenomenal" (Il Giorno) British mezzo-soprano Allison Cook makes her US debut as the Duchess; Matt Boehler, "a bass with an attitude and the goods to back it up" (The New York Times), has his company debut as the Hotel Manager; "sterling tenor" (American Theater) William Ferguson returns to New York City Opera as the Electrician; and coloratura soprano Nili Riemer makes her company debut as the Maid.

Allison Cook* (Duchess)
Nili Riemer* (Maid)
William Ferguson (Electrician)
Matt Boehler* (Hotel Manager)

*New York City Opera debut

The opera is terrific, snarky fun, and no one could deny the brilliance of Scheib’s treatment, especially in his use of video, splendidly executed by Josh Higgason, to spread out telling details on a large scale and to expose partially hidden spaces to the audience
— Ny Arts