Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

Powerful Mahler Symphony no 2 Harding, BBC Proms London

Triumphant! An exceptionally stimulating Mahler Symphony No 2 from Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Prom 57 at the Royal Albert Hall. Harding's Mahler Tenth performances (especially with the Berliner Philharmoniker) are pretty much the benchmark by which all other performances are assessed. Harding's Mahler Second is informed by such an intuitive insight into the whole traverse of the composer's work that, should he get around to doing all ten together, he'll fulfil the long-held dream of "One Grand Symphony", all ten symphonies understood as a coherent progression of developing ideas.

Nina Stemme's stunning Strauss Salome, BBC Proms London

The BBC Proms continued its Richard Strauss celebrations with a performance of his first major operatic success Salome. Nina Stemme led forces from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin,at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 30 August 2014,the first of a remarkable pair of Proms which sees Salome and Elektra performed on successive evenings

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Santa Fe Opera Presents Huang Ruo's Sun Yat-sen

By emphasizing the love between Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling, Ruo showed us the human side of this universally revered modern Chinese leader. Writer Lindsley Miyoshi has quoted the composer as saying that the opera is “about four kinds of love.” It speaks of affection between friends, between parents and children, between lovers, and between patriots and their country.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the HallĂ© Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

Santa Fe Opera Presents The Impresario and Le Rossignol

On August 7, 2014, the Santa Fe Opera presented a double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (The Nightingale). The Impresario deals with the casting of an opera and Le Rossignol tells the well-known fairy tale about the plain gray bird with an exquisite song.

Barber in the Beehive State

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre has gifted opera enthusiasts with a thrilling Barber, and I don’t mean . . . of Seville.

Stravinsky : Oedipus Rex, BBC Proms

In typical Proms fashion, BBC Prom 28 saw Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex performed in an eclectic programme which started with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and also featured Electric Preludes by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean. Sakari Oramo,was making the first of his Proms appearances this year, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Santa Fe Opera Presents a Passionate Fidelio

Santa Fe Opera presented Beethoven’s Fidelio for the first time in 2014. Since the sides of the opera house are open, the audience watched the sun redden the low hanging clouds and set below the Sangre de Cristo mountains while Chief Conductor Harry Bicket led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in the rousing overture. At the same time, Alex Penda as the title character readied herself for the ordeal to come as she endeavored to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband.

Rameau Grand Motets, BBC Proms

Best of the season so far! William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performed Rameau Grand Motets at late night Prom 17.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission.

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 SalomĂ©, 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):