Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

L’equivoco stravagante in Pesaro

L’equivoco stravagante (The Bizarre Misunderstanding), the 18 year-old Gioachino Rossini's first opera buffa, is indeed bizarre. Its heroine Ernestina is obsessed by literature and philosophy and the grandiose language of opera seria.

BBC Prom 44: Rattle conjures a blistering Belshazzar’s Feast

This was a notable occasion for offering three colossal scores whose execution filled the Albert Hall’s stage with over 150 members of the London Symphony Orchestra and 300 singers drawn from the Barcelona-based Orfeó Català and Orfeó Català Youth Choir, along with the London Symphony Chorus.

Prom 45: Mississippi Goddam - A Homage to Nina Simone

Nina Simone was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century music. But she was much more than this; many of her songs came to be a clarion call for disenfranchised and discriminated against Americans. When black Americans felt they didn’t have a voice, Nina Simone gave them one.

Sincerity, sentimentality and sorrow from Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake at Snape Maltings

‘Abwärts rinnen die Ströme ins Meer.’ Down flow the rivers, down into the sea. These are the ‘sadly-resigned words in the consciousness of his declining years’ that, as reported by The Athenaeum in February 1866 upon the death of Friedrich Rückert, the poet had written ‘some time ago, in the album of a friend of ours, then visiting him at his rural retreat near Neuses’. Such melancholy foreboding - simultaneously sincere and sentimental - infused this recital at Snape Maltings by Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake.

Glimmerglass’ Showboat Sails to Glory

For the annual production of a classic American musical that has become part of Glimmerglass Festival’s mission, the company mounted a wholly winning version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s immortal Showboat.

Proms at ... Cadogan Hall 5: Louise Alder and Gary Matthewman

“On the wings of song, I’ll bear you away …” So sings the poet-speaker in Mendelssohn’s 1835 setting of Heine’s ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’. And, borne aloft we were during this lunchtime Prom by Louise Alder and Gary Matthewman which soared progressively higher as the performers took us on a journey through a spectrum of lieder from the first half of the nineteenth century.

Glowing Verdi at Glimmerglass

From the first haunting, glistening sound of the orchestral strings to the ponderous final strokes in the score that echoed the dying heartbeats of a doomed heroine, Glimmerglass Festival’s superior La Traviata was an indelible achievement.

Médée in Salzburg

Though Luigi Cherubini long outlived the carnage of the French Revolution his 1797 opéra comique [with spoken dialogue] Médée fell well within the “horror opera” genre that responded to the spirit of its time. These days however Médée is but an esoteric and extremely challenging late addition to the international repertory.

Queen: A Royal Jewel at Glimmerglass

Tchaikovsky’s grand opera The Queen of Spades might seem an unlikely fit for the multi-purpose room of the Pavilion on the Glimmerglass campus but that qualm would fail to reckon with the superior creative gifts of the production team at this prestigious festival.

Blue Diversifies Glimmerglass Fare

Glimmerglass Festival has commendably taken on a potent social theme in producing the World Premiere of composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson’s Blue.

Vibrant Versailles Dazzles In Upstate New York

From the shimmering first sounds and alluring opening visual effects of Glimmerglass Festival’s The Ghosts of Versailles, it was apparent that we were in for an evening of aural and theatrical splendors worthy of its namesake palace.

Gilda: “G for glorious”

For months we were threatened with a “feminist take” on Verdi’s boiling 1851 melodrama; the program essay was a classic mashup of contemporary psychobabble perfectly captured in its all-caps headline: DESTRUCTIVE PARENTS, TOXIC MASCULINITY, AND BAD DECISIONS.

Simon Boccanegra in Salzburg

It’s an inescapable reference. Among the myriad "Viva Genova!" tweets the Genovese populace shared celebrating its new doge, the pirate Simon Boccanegra, one stood out — “Make Genoa Great Again!” A hell of a mess ensued for years and years and the drinking water was poisonous as well.

Rigoletto at Macerata Opera Festival

In this era of operatic globalization, I don’t recall ever attending a summer opera festival where no one around me uttered a single word of spoken English all night. Yet I recently had this experience at the Macerata Opera Festival. This festival is not only a pure Italian experience, in the best sense, but one of the undiscovered gems of the European summer season.

BBC Prom 37: A transcendent L’enfance du Christ at the Albert Hall

Notwithstanding the cancellation of Dame Sarah Connolly and Sir Mark Elder, due to ill health, and an inconsiderate audience in moments of heightened emotion, this performance was an unequivocal joy, wonderfully paced and marked by first class accounts from four soloists and orchestral playing from the Hallé that was the last word in refinement.

Tannhäuser at Bayreuth

Stage director Tobias Kratzer sorely tempts destruction in his Bayreuth deconstruction of Wagner’s delicate Tannhäuser, though he was soundly thwarted at the third performance by conductor Christian Thielemann pinch hitting for Valery Gergiev.

Opera in the Quarry: Die Zauberflöte at St Margarethen near Eisenstadt, Austria

Oper im Steinbruch (Opera in the Quarry) presents opera in the 2000 quarry at St Margarethen near Eisenstadt in Austria. Opera has been performed there since the late 1990s, but there was no opera last year and this year is the first under the new artistic director Daniel Serafin, himself a former singer but with a degree in business administration and something of a minor Austrian celebrity as he has been on the country's equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing twice.

BBC Prom 39: Sea Pictures from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Sea Pictures: both the name of Elgar’s five-song cycle for contralto and orchestra, performed at this BBC Prom by Catriona Morison, winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Main Prize in 2017, and a fitting title for this whole concert by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Elim Chan, which juxtaposed a first half of songs of the sea, fair and fraught, with, post-interval, compositions inspired by paintings.

BBC Prom 32: DiDonato spellbinds in Berlioz and the NYO of the USA magnificently scales Strauss

As much as the Proms strives to stand above the events of its time, that doesn’t mean the musicians, conductors or composers who perform there should necessarily do so.

Get Into Opera with this charming, rural L'elisir

Site-specific operas are commonplace these days, but at The Octagon Barn in Norwich, Genevieve Raghu, founder and Artistic Director of Into Opera, contrived to make a site persuasively opera-specific.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Salome Poster [Manitoba Opera]
01 Dec 2011

Salome, Manitoba Opera

Opera has never been an art form to hold anything back. But even within the genre itself, Salome is — literally — one tough, depraved act to follow.

Richard Strauss: Salome

Click here for cast and other production information.

Above: Salome Poster courtesy of Manitoba Opera

 

Manitoba Opera’s new production of Richard Strauss’ staged tone poem sung in German (with English surtitles) took its viewers into the blackest heart of darkness as a daring choice to open its new season. Based on Hedwig Lachmann’s translation of Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé, the 110-minute production (no intermission) directed by MO general director/CEO Larry Desrochers featured an expanded Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra led by the company’ principal conductor/music advisor, maestro Tyrone Paterson. The three-show run held November 19 to 25, 2011 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall notably marks only the company’s second staging of the 20th century classic in 23 years.

The gritty, one-act opera based on the New Testament story of the beheading of John the Baptist deals with incest, prophecy, and madness — and yes, ultimately, love. Young Princess Salome has become obsessed with prophet Jokannan who is imprisoned by her stepfather/uncle, King Herod. He, in turn, lusts for her and cajoles her to dance for him. She agrees only after he promises he will give her whatever she desires — in this case, the Baptist’s head on a silver platter.

Russian-born soprano Mlada Khudoley has performed the title role approximately a dozen times over the past 13 years. Her riveting portrayal displayed her impressive dramatic range that had her pounding her fists like a tempestuous teenager before morphing into a hell bent, vengeful woman on the brink of insanity. The US-based powerhouse’s well-paced vocal delivery allowed her to save her last breath — if it were possible — for her final declamatory “If you had seen me, you would have loved me” that is the impetus for this opera. Strauss’ dissonant, through-composed score proved no match for this dynamo, with her soaring voice effortlessly projecting over the knotty, Wagnerian-scale orchestration.

Tenor Dennis Petersen crafted his lecherous Herod, at times, as a sickeningly juvenile ruler who plays peek-a-boo with Salome during her erotic “Dance of the Seven Veils” choreographed by Brenda Gorlick. His penetrating voice grew more desperate as he lured his stepdaughter in “Dance for me, Salome,” later stamping his feet in a sudden, volatile outburst after the princess insists on her prize. His wife/sister-in-law Herodias sung by the incomparable Canadian mezzo-soprano Judith Forst sputtered as a long-suffering partner, attempting to pierce her husband’s growing obsession for Salome like a knife.

_TNK2456.giflada Khudoley as Salome and Gregory Dahl as Jokanaan [Photo by R. Tinker courtesy of Manitoba Opera]

Special mention must be made of Winnipeg baritone Gregory Dahl’s chain-shackled Jokanaan, who immediately asserted his booming presence even from the depths of the cistern with his first vocal entry, “After me, will come one.” The charismatic singer brought both requisite strength and nobility to the role, with his robust voice trembling with fury as he foretold the coming of the Son of Man.

Lyric tenor Michael Colvin performed Captain of the Guard, Narraboth with focused clarity, growing increasingly agitated as Salome ignores his advances for Jokanaan. Mezzo-soprano Marcia Whitehead’s Page set the stage for the entire tragedy to unfold with her ominous “Something terrible will happen.”

The chorus of five Jews (Mark Thomsen; Michel Corbeil; P.J. Buchan; Keith Klassen; David Watson) brought contrapuntal might to the stage with the two Nazarenes (Mark Bodden; Peter Klymkiw) telling of miracles.

_TNK2809.gifMlada Khudoley as Salome and Dennis Petersen as Herod [Photo by R. Tinker courtesy of Manitoba Opera]

Several intriguing directorial choices underscored the love triangle — if you will — between Herod, Salome and Jokanaan, with Salome quietly slipping a veil into the cistern while also gravitating towards it during her famous striptease, creating multiple layers of sub-text. The closing image of Salome bathed in white light after being killed by Herod’s guards also suggested her own redemption (by love?); a purifying baptism of sorts that made her a sympathetic character to be pitied, not abhorred.

The production featured Boyd Ostroff’s set design created for the Opera Company of Philadelphia with a large, luminous moon radiating throughout the show, as well as blood red lighting effects by Bill Williams. Costumes designed by Richard St. Clair included jewel-encrusted robes for Herod and his wife and a series of voluminous veils for Salome’s seductive dance.

Salome is not an opera for the faint of heart — nor is it the safest box office draw. There are no jocular drinking songs or bands of dancing gypsies for levity. Salome’s chilling aria “Ah, you would not let me kiss your mouth” sung to the bloodied, severed head before she does just that still resonates with horror even in the 21st century. Salome remains a fiercely relentless opera that deserves to be seen by any serious opera lover. After nearly a quarter century hiatus, MO audiences were finally given that chance.

Holly Harris

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):