Powder her face

Thomas Adès

Chamber opera in two acts and eight scenes
Libretto: Philip Hensher 
World premiere: 1 July 1995, Cheltenham Festival, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Polish premiere, premiere of this production: 9 May 2015
Co-produced by: Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
In the original English with Polish surtitles

Seats for the audience will be set on the Main Stage in the Moniuszko Auditorium. 

For adults only

At last! We finally have a Polish production of this opera by Thomas Adès, who is almost unknown in Poland though his composing career in the English-speaking world has been one of the most spectacular in the last quarter-century.

The model for the protagonist in Powder Her Face was Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, a beautiful celebrity who gained notoriety for her scandalous conduct revealed in the divorce proceedings initiated by her aristocratic husband.

This chamber composition written by Adès at the age of 24, maintained in the mood of a Weill-esque cabaret opera, has all the distinctive features of the brilliant London-born composer’s music: harmonic sophistication, great sense of form, inexhaustible ingenuity in juggling musical conventions. Though in this score the composer likes to walk arm in arm with Schubert, Berg and Britten, admirers of Astor Piazzolla will also find more than one gem here.

Whoever is unconvinced by these compliments addressed to Adès might be drawn to Powder Her Face by a mention of the ‘fellatio aria’ that the Duchess hums voraciously, inevitably ‘assisted’ by a bellboy. This quick number, emblematic of the composer’s entire musical brilliance, is probably the most obscenely dolled-up scene in the history of opera.



Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera
Mimes, dancers and children dancers


  • Partners of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera