The Exterminating Angel


Writers: Thomas Adès Tom Cairns


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
The Exterminating Angel (1962) by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza
Number of Acts
First Produced
Dark Comedy, Horror
Contemporary, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
Calle de la Providencia, Spain
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Some Dance
Ideal for
Large Cast, Professional Opera
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, adult, young adult, elderly, child, early teen characters


The Marquis of Nobile, Edmundo, and his wife, Lucía, are having a dinner party after an excellent performance of Lucia di Lammermoor. Naturally, they have invited the leading soprano, Leticia Maynar, as well as the conductor Señor Alberto Roc and his wife, the pianist Blanca Delgardo. Their friends Colonel Álvaro Gómez, and Doctor Carlos Conde will be there, as well as the famous explorer Count Raúl Yebenes. Silvia, Duchess of Àvila, will also attend, accompanied by her brother Francisco, and the soon-to-be-married Beatriz and Eduardo. To make it a round dozen, their friends Señor Russell and Leonora Palma have also been invited. With some absurd entertainment planned, it promises to be a perfect evening.

So successful was the party, that at the end of the evening no one wants to leave. Or rather, every time they try, they simply turn around and stay. Any attempt to go across the threshold turns into a moment of rest on the sofa, or another conversational delay. After sleeping a night in the drawing room, the guests realise that no matter how hard they try, they simply cannot leave.

Days and weeks pass by in this room, with these people. Sickness claims Señor Russell, and madness starts to invade some of the others. With no food, no water, no sanitation, and no way out, desperation leads them to thoughts of murder. But, perhaps there is another key to leaving the room. What if they can retrace their steps and find out where the problem started? Can their lives really be saved by a soprano with a song?

Thomas Adès’s operatic version of Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel is an absurd, gory, and darkly farcical piece, which is rapidly becoming one of the most famous operas of the 21st century.

Lead Characters

The Exterminating Angel guide sections