Powder Her Face charts the glamorous rise and seedy fall of the notorious socialite beauty Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. A former deb of the year, the ‘Dirty Duchess’ was at the centre of a scandalous divorce case in 1963, the year of the Profumo Affair, when the Establishment was caught with its pin-striped trousers round its ankles. Drawing on episodes from the Duchess’s colourful life, not least her sexually voracious appetite, a mythical portrayal of this elegant yet ultimately tragic figure emerges
Powder Her Face launched Adès’s international career in 1995 and remains one of his most performed works. His dazzlingly precocious score is as witty, poignant and memorable as the Duchess herself, paying homage to the popular idioms of cabaret and tango, as well as to Weill, Berg and Stravinsky.
Making his opera directing debut is Joe Hill-Gibbins, one of the most exciting talents in British theatre, in a new site-specific production created within Ambika P3, London’s newest performing environment. Productions at the Royal Court (The Village Bike) and Young Vic (The Glass Menagerie) have earned Hill-Gibbins a loyal following and his recent National Theatre staging of Marlowe’s Edward II has only served to confirm his reputation. Returning to ENO after triumphs in Janácek, Britten and Strauss is Olivier Award-winning soprano Amanda Roocroft as the infamous Duchess.
Ambika P3 is located at 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS (Nearest tube: Baker Street). Click here for a map and further information.
Running time: 2hrs 20mins
Signed performance Thu 10 Apr. Pre Performance Talk: Fri 4 Apr with Joe Hill-Gibbins, director plus Philip Hensher, librettist.
In collaboration with Ambika P3, University of Westminister. Performed by arrangement with Faber Music Ltd, London.
Powder Her Face cast and creative team
Conductor Timothy Redmond
Director Joe Hill-Gibbins
Lighting Designer Adam Silverman
Movement Director Imogen Knight
Librettist Philip Hensher
Duchess Amanda Roocroft
Maid Clare Eggington
Hotel Manager Alan Ewing
Electrician Alexander Sprague