Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Cooperstown and the Hood

Glimmerglass Festival continues its string of world premiere youth operas with a wholly enchanting production of Ben Moore and Kelly Rourke’s Robin Hood.

Glimmerglass Oklahoma: Yeow!

Director Molly Smith knew just how to best succeed at staging the evergreen classic Oklahoma! for Glimmerglass Festival.

La pietra del paragone in Pesaro

Impeccable casting — see photos. Three new generation Italian buffos brought startling new life to Pier Luigi Pizzi’s 2002 production of Rossini’s first major comedy (La Scala, 1812).

An Invitation to Travel: Christiane Karg and Malcolm Martineau at the Proms

German soprano Christiane Karg invited us to accompany her on a journey during this lunchtime chamber music Prom at Cadogan Hall as she followed the voyages of French composers in Europe and beyond, and their return home.

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder at the Proms - Sir Simon Rattle

Prom 46: Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, Simon O'Neill, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Karen Cargill, Peter Hoare, Christopher Purves and Thomas Quasthoff. And three wonderful choirs - the CBSO Chorus, the London Symphony Chorus and Orfeó Català from Barcelona, with Chorus Master Simon Halsey, Rattle's close associate for 35 years.

Le Siège de Corinthe in Pesaro

That of Rossini (in French) and that of Lord Byron (in English, Russian, Italian and Spanish), the battles of both Negroponte (1470) and of Missolonghi (1826) re-enacted amidst massive piles of plastic water bottles (thousands of them) that collapsed onto the heroine at Mahomet II's destruction of Corinth.

Dunedin Consort perform Bach's St John Passion at the Proms

John Butt and the Dunedin Consort's 2012 recording of Bach's St John Passion was ground-breaking for it putting the passion into the context of a reconstruction of the original Lutheran Vespers service.

Collision: Spectra Ensemble at the Arcola Theatre

‘Asteroid flyby in October: A drill for the end of the world?’ So shouted a headline in USA Today earlier this month, as journalist Doyle Rice asked, ‘Are we ready for an asteroid impact?’ in his report that in October NASA will conduct a drill to see how well its planetary defence system would work if an actual asteroid were heading straight for Earth.

Joshua Bell offers Hispanic headiness at the Proms

At the start of the 20th century, French composers seemed to be conducting a cultural love affair with Spain, an affair initiated by the Universal Exposition of 1889 where the twenty-five-year old Debussy and the fourteen-year-old Ravel had the opportunity to hear new sounds from East Asia, such as the Javanese gamelan, alongside gypsy flamenco from Granada.

Hibiki: a European premiere by Mark-Anthony Turnage at the Proms

Hibiki: sound, noise, echo, reverberation, harmony. Commissioned by the Suntory Hall in Tokyo to celebrate the Hall’s 30th anniversary in 2016, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s 50-minute Hibiki, for two female soloists, children’s chorus and large orchestra, purports to reflect on the ‘human reverberations’ of the Tohoku earthquake in 2011 and the devastation caused by the subsequent tsunami and radioactive disaster.

Janáček: The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Grimeborn

A great performance of Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared can be, allowing for the casting of a superb tenor, an experience on a par with Schoenberg’s Erwartung. That Shadwell Opera’s minimalist, but powerful, staging in the intimate setting of Studio 2 of the Arcola Theatre was a triumph was in no small measure to the magnificent singing of the tenor, Sam Furness.

Khovanshchina: Mussorgsky at the Proms

Remembering the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this Proms performance of Mussorgsky’s mighty Khovanshchina (all four and a quarter hours of it) exceeded all expectations on a musical level. And, while the trademark doorstop Proms opera programme duly arrived containing full text and translation, one should celebrate the fact that - finally - we had surtitles on several screens.

Santa Fe: Entertaining If Not Exactly (R)evolutionary

You know what I loved best about Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs?

Longborough Young Artists in London: Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice

For the last three years, Longborough Festival Opera’s repertoire of choice for their Young Artist Programme productions has been Baroque opera seria, more specifically Handel, with last year’s Alcina succeeding Rinaldo in 2014 and Xerxes in 2015.

Full-throated Cockerel at Santa Fe

A tale of a lazy, befuddled world leader that ‘has no clothes on’ and his two dimwit sons, hmmmm, what does that remind me of. . .?

Santa Fe’s Trippy Handel

If you don’t like a given moment in Santa Fe Opera’s staging of Alcina, well, just like the volatile mountain weather, wait two minutes and it will surely change.

Santa Fe’s Crowd-Pleasing Strauss

With Die Fledermaus’ thrice familiar overture still lingering in our ears, it didn’t take long for the assault of hijinks to reduce the audience into guffaws of delight.

Santa Fe: Mad for Lucia

If there is any practitioner currently singing the punishing title role of Lucia di Lammermoor better than Brenda Rae, I am hard-pressed to name her.

Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen at Grimeborn

Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen can be a difficult opera to stage, despite its charm and simplicity. In part it is a good, old-fashioned morality tale about the relationships between humans and animals, and between themselves, but Janáček doesn’t use a sledgehammer to make this point. It is easy for many productions to fall into parody, and many have done, and it is a tribute to The Opera Company’s staging of this work at the Arcola Theatre that they narrowly avoided this pitfall.

Handel's Israel in Egypt at the Proms: William Christie and the OAE

For all its extreme popularity with choirs, Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt is a somewhat problematic work; the scarcity of solos makes hiring professional soloists an extravagant expense, and the standard version of the work starts oddly with a tenor recitative. If we return to the work's history then these issues are put into context, and this is what William Christie did for the performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 1 August 2017.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Tomas Tomasson as John the Baptist and Patricia Racette as Salome [Photo by Ken Howard/LA Opera]
25 Feb 2017

A Salome to Remember

Patricia Racette’s Salome is an impetuous teenage princess who interrupts the royal routine on a cloudy night by demanding to see her stepfather’s famous prisoner. Racette’s interpretation makes her Salome younger than the characters portrayed by many of her famous colleagues of the past. This princess plays mental games with Jochanaan and with Herod. Later, she plays a physical game with the gruesome, natural-looking head of the prophet.

A Salome to Remember

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Tomas Tomasson as John the Baptist and Patricia Racette as Salome [Photo by Ken Howard/LA Opera]

 

On February 18, 2017, Los Angele Opera presented Richard Strauss’s Salome backed by a set originally designed by John Bury for Peter Hall’s 1986 production at the Music Center. Its newly refurbished version directed by David Paul featured a dark platform that held the necessary cistern. The sky was filled with clouds surrounding a pale moon that crept almost imperceptibly across the sky during the course of the opera. Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes encased Salome in layers of jewel-toned chiffon, wrapped Herod and Herodias in bright brocades and clothed the soldiers in stiff, braid-trimmed jackets and skirts.

salome021022.png Allan Glassman (center front) as Herod, with Gabriele Schnaut (second from left) as Herodias [Photo by Larry Ho / LA Opera]

Issachah Savage, a promising young dramatic tenor, sang Narraboth’s lines with shining bronze tones. Reports of his Otello in Mexico make him a tenor to watch. As the Page, Katarzyna Sadej sang with a sweet sound that could barely be heard over the eighty-four-piece orchestra. Tómas Tómasson was a rough and rugged Jokanaan, physically and vocally. Unfortunately, he seemed to lack any semblance of romanticism that might have made him attractive to the teenage princess. Other cast members who added measurably to the value of this performance were: Nicholas Brownlee as the First Soldier and Kihun Yoon as the First Nazarene. Rodell Rosel, Josh Wheeker, Brian Michael Moore, Carlos Enrique Santelli, and Gabriel Vamvulecu were most energetic as the Five Jews.

Patricia Racette’s Salome is an impetuous teenage princess who interrupts the royal routine on a cloudy night by demanding to see her stepfather’s famous prisoner. Racette’s interpretation makes her Salome younger than the characters portrayed by many of her famous colleagues of the past. This princess plays mental games with Jochanaan and with Herod. Later, she plays a physical game with the gruesome, natural-looking head of the prophet. Having grown from lyric to dramatic status by way of Puccini and Verdi rather then Wagner, Racette’s voice has a different sound for Strauss than the ones we heard from Nilsson, Rysanek, or Mattila. Great Salomes can also come from the Italian dramatic tradition and Racette isn’t just a sex kitten. She has the dramatic vocal ability to surmount Strauss’s huge orchestra and project her silver-toned soprano throughout a huge hall.

sal_la_5728ret.pngPatricia Racette as Salome [Photo by Ken Howard / LA Opera]

Her character managed to tantalize Herod who was sure she could be satisfied with a large jewel or, at most, a small province to rule. Racette danced Peggy Hickey’s intricate, rhythmic choreography with four bare chested male dancers who lifted her on to their shoulders as she released veils. When they put her down, she snatched a cover from the prompter’s box and wrapped it around her body after the few seconds of its complete revelation.

As Herod, veteran tenor Allan Glassman was a most credible politician who wanted to be on the winning side of the religious debacle. Gabriele Schnaut was an officious, self-serving Herodias who did not intend to lose her position to anyone. When Herodias took the ring from Herod’s hand and relayed it to the executioner, the tetrarch momentarily lost his power. Salome had won for the few minutes she used to cavort with the head and sing her monumental Final Scene. Racette sang all the highs with lustrous tones and connected artistically with the score’s most difficult lows.

The most important aspect of the opera Salome is its huge orchestra and Richard Strauss’s opulent orchestration. One of the main reasons for attending Salome at Los Angeles Opera is James Conlon’s conducting. He brought out the composer’s leitmotifs and his symbolic use of musical color while engulfing listeners in the score’s unusual modulations, chromaticism, extended tonality, and tonal ambiguity. Best of all, Conlon did it without ever covering any of the principal singers. Salome will be at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through March 19. If you are in the Los Angeles area you don’t want to miss it.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, James Conlon; Production, Peter Hall; Director, David Paul; Set Design, John Bury; Costume Design, Sara Jean Tosetti; Lighting Design, Duane Schuler; Choreographer, Peggy Hickey; Salome, Patricia Racette; John the Baptist, Tómas Tómasson; Herod, Allan Glassman; Herodias, Gabriele Schnaut; Narraboth, Issachah Savage; Page, Katarzyna Sądej; First Soldier, Nicholas Brownlee; Second Soldier, Patrick Blackwell; First Nazarene, Kihun Yoon; Second Nazarene, Theo Hoffman; First Jew, Rodell Rosel; Second Jew, Josh Wheeker; Third Jew, Brian Michael Moore; Slave / Fourth Jew, Carlos Enrique Santelli; Cappadocian / Fifth Jew, Gabriel Vamvulescu.

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):