[Met Performance] CID:125150

Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, February 16, 1939

Review 1:

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune
Strauss?s ?Salome?? Returns to the Metropolitan With Miss Lawrence

Strauss?s ?Salome," with its lovesick princess, its celebrated Dance, and its once horrendous Scene with the Head, returned Friday evening to the Metropolitan.

In the final scene of Oscar Wilde's tragedy, at the moment when the huge black arm of the Negro headsman is thrust upward from the cistern, bearing on a silver dish the head of the prophet Jokanaan, and Salome seizes it avidly, while Herod, watching from his throne, hides his face with his cloak, the stage directions tell us that Herodias "smiles and fans herself." The audiences that sit before "Salome" in our time are scarcely more troubled by this formerly, terrific scene than is the wickedly complacent spouse of Herod. They might be listening to "Hansel and Gretel" or the Mad scene from "Lucia di Lammermoor."

This is probably a matter for the student of folk-ways and manners unless the mere music-critic is to conclude either that "Salome" is not the opera that it used to be, or that. like the fellow in the story, it never was.

It must suffice for the present to note the fact that the current production of the work retains the virtues that were found in it last season. Miss Marjorie Lawrence still embodies the mischievous Daughter of Herodias, whose playful, request (only half-heard by the infatuated Herod) so delights and amuses that susceptible monarch ? until he hears the, end of the sentence: "I would that they bring me in a silver charger"?

"In a silver charger!" interrupts the captivated Herod. "Surely, yes, in a silver charger! She is charming, is she not? What is it that you would have in a silver charger, O sweet and fair Salome, you who are fairer than all the daughters of Judea?"

Miss Lawrence still manages skillfully this moment of suspended crisis; and Mr. Ren? Maison, the Herod of the cast, is still superb in the imaginative veracity that he imparts to his share of the dialogue. For this Herod is not only the finest thing that Mr. Maison does, but, it is one of the most searching and vivid portraitures now to be seen in the Metropolitan's admirable and extensive collection of living pictures.

As for Miss Lawrence, her Salome has undergone no substantial change ? although, that is perhaps not literally true, for it is possible that this embodiment might now recall to some the classic remark made by an inspired character in a recent play concerning birds and singers. Salome, perhaps, should have danced more frequently for Herod.

Yet Miss Lawrence triumphs over the course of nature; for her enactment of the celebrated Dance of the Seven Veils is an admirable example of expressive pantomime, and a remarkable tour de force.

So, too, is the manner in which she sustains her singing upon the plane of salient dramatic utterance from the beginning to the end of the prodigiously exacting role. Her delivery of the tremendous final phrases had last night the clarion ring of triumph that the passage requires ? indeed; Miss Lawrence's voice almost overbalanced the orchestra at this point, so that one wished for a more audible sounding of the dissonant inner voices of the instrumental web.

It should be noted that Miss Lawrence no longer sports the curious headdress, suggestive of an Early Christian birdcage captured from the hurricane of time, that she wore last season. She has now adopted a species of Judaean tiara that Salome might conceivably have worn, but which one hopes she didn't, and a blonde wig that serves less well the natural beauty of Miss Lawrence's countenance than the brunette wig she used before.

The other members of the evening's cast were wholly familiar in their roles, and may wait for further comment until another time.

The Straussisan tragedy was paired in a double bill with ?Pagliacci? exhibiting Mr. Martinelli as Canio and Miss Hilda Burke as Nedda.

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