Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What they said

OK, I had my fun, but maybe a bit more about last night's Metropolitan Opera actual-season opening Salome is in order.

On the singers, I agree with Maury's post except I'm fairly sure he was there when I heard Bryn Terfel's Jokanaan. I knocked Ildikó Komlósi in the season preview, but she was dead on as Herodias, quite an improvement from 2004's surprisingly too-staid Larissa Diadkova.

On the conducting, Sieglinde's reaction is more or less my own: Mikko Franck couldn't have been worse than this, could he? Patrick Summers certainly isn't Gergiev (conductor of the production's 2004 debut), which on the one hand means no Putin-lionizing embarrassments but also means none of the creepy, febrile energy that saturated the original run.

Karita Mattila's 2004 opening night of this was an unforgettable ecstatic success, but comparisons are useless. Even over a plain orchestral backing, Mattila communicates Salome's perversity to full gross-out levels. Missing it might be more perverse.

UPDATE (5PM): Forgot to mention -- here or in the productions overview -- that I actually like Jürgen Flimm's staging of this Strauss opera. The evocative, cleanly-textured set is an effective base for the goings-on. The weakest part, I'd thought, was Doug Varone's choreography for the dance, but it (though seemingly unchanged) somehow sat better this year.


  1. Nope, didn't hear Terfel. It was...a German baritone, maybe? Drawing a blank. Dohmen? Or was that at Tanglewood?

    It certainly was strange about Diadkova who, generally, is a singer of much greater stature than Komlosi, I'd say.

  2. Yes, it was Dohmen for the first performance. I can't remember a thing about him, which is unfortunate as I may be seeing his Wotan this season.

  3. Why do so many theatrical productions of Opera cast middle aged women as young women, and obese men as objects of lust? Why do I have to pay $200 for a ticket only to have to pretend that what I'm seeing doesn't work theatrically? I feel cheated. This production was awful.

    Not until Salome was performing at the end with the head of Johannan di it seem to be authentic. It didn't rely on her seeming like a young woman.. she was quite simply (and distubingly beautifuly) a woman going mad.

    as a performing artist who doesn't benefit from incredibly expensive ticket prices I'm offended by being asked to pretend that bad casting is ok as long as it sounds good.

  4. "cast middle aged women as young women"

    Opera's not for you. Hollywood's that-a-way.

  5. You're lucky you got to see it at all. Mikko canceled on the last day before rehersals due to poor health

  6. Totally agreed, Ildikó Komlósi stole the show and is truly a rising star


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.