Powder Her Face

By Thomas Ades

Chauvinistic English critics are calling Thomas Ades, 28, the hottest composer since Benjamin Britten. Don't believe the hype. Ades' first opera, just released on CD, is a thoroughly nasty piece of goods. Philip Hensher's sneering libretto tells the scabrous story of the decline and fall of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (the "Mrs. Sweeny" of Cole Porter's You're the Top), who liked to do the Full Monica on her male servants. Ades' score is a glib farrago of sour, splintered vocal writing, postmodern pastiche and cartoony sound effects. Is this the music of the future? No, just further proof that the now...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!