[Met Performance] CID:167350

Metropolitan Opera Premiere, New Production

Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, December 15, 1954

Debut : Dimitri Mitropoulos, Yurek Lazowski, Adriano Vitale, Jean Lee Schoch, Judith Younger, Esteban Frances, Christel Goltz

Vittorio (1)
Giuseppe Verdi
Zachary Solov

Yurek Lazowski [Debut]

Edward Caton

Mia Slavenska

Adriano Vitale [Debut]

Jean Lee Schoch [Debut]

Judith Younger [Debut]

Vittorio's Companions
Louis Kosman

Vittorio's Companions
Malcolm McCormick

Fiamma's Companions
Diana Turner

Fiamma's Companions
Viola Maiorca

Dimitri Mitropoulos [Debut]

Esteban Frances [Debut]

Zachary Solov

Salome (43)
Richard Strauss | Oscar Wilde
Christel Goltz [Debut]

Ramon Vinay

Blanche Thebom

Paul Schöffler

Brian Sullivan

Mildred Miller

Gabor Carelli

Thomas Hayward

Alessio De Paolis

Paul Franke

Gerhard Pechner

Kurt Böhme

Calvin Marsh

Norman Scott

Lorenzo Alvary

Osie Hawkins

Vilma Georgiou

Dimitri Mitropoulos [Debut]

Herbert Graf

Set Designer
Donald Oenslager

Vittorio received six performances this season.
Salome received six performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Winthrop Sargeant in the New Yorker


The Mitropoulos Touch

That sometimes erratic but nearly always astonishing conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos showed up in the pit of the Metropolitan Opera House on Wednesday evening of last week and churned Richard Strauss's "Salome" into what, from the orchestral point of view, seemed to me the finest performance of this highly orchestral opera I have ever heard. Not only did Mr. Mitropoulos appear to be in command of every slightest inflection and dramatic twist of Strauss's boiling and steaming score, but he succeeded in rousing the Metropolitan's orchestra out of its usual state of routine efficiency and made it play with all the enthusiasm and brilliance of which it is capable. This gratifying feat was, of course, not entirely unexpected, for Mr. Mitropoulos has shown many times in the past that he has a particular feeling for Strauss's music, and he has also shown the special qualities of personal leadership and inspirational dash that are bound to shine with considerable effect in an opera house. I wish the Metropolitan had more conductors of his calibre. No amount of fine singing can give an opera finish and dramatic continuity unless the man in the orchestra pit drives and guides it with real authority and control, and this is what Mr. Mitropoulos did.

The performance had its other points, good and bad. The new and widely heralded Salome of Christel Goltz was certainly as wild and uninhibited a one as I have ever encountered. The sheer physical stamina with which Miss Goltz pranced and wriggled about the stage was, I suppose, impressive, and I frequently found myself out of breath just from watching her. Her singing was generally loud and expressive. The trouble was that her conception of Strauss's psychotic heroine lacked any sense of psychological progression. From the moment she appeared on the stage, and long before her consuming passion for John the Baptist was supposed to develop, she seemed to be in a state that could have been calmed only by a strait jacket. From this point, there was obviously no place she could go in the direction of hysteria. Miss Goltz continued to claw the air like a maddened tigress; she rolled halfway across the stage from the top of John the Baptist's cistern, and at the end she seemed to be chewing the great prophet's head to bits beneath the silken robe that she had mercifully thrown over herself and it. But all the stops had been pulled long before, and each successive scene proved only that even violence, if pursued unremittingly, can become monotonous.

"Salome" is by no means my favorite opera; indeed, to me the most pleasant thing about going to it is the pristine freshness that the night air on Broadway has when one leaves the auditorium. Still, it is, in its way, a masterpiece of mood, and deserves the sort of production that will enhance its atmosphere of murk and terror. I did not think that the details of the Met's staging were altogether satisfactory. For one thing, the scimitar carried by the slave on his journey into the cistern to behead John the Baptist was patently a cardboard affair that couldn't have cleaved a piece of well- aged Camembert; for another, the Baptist's head, on its silver platter, looked disconcertingly like one of those masks made of carved coconut that are sold to tourists on Caribbean cruises. Not that I am a stickler for realism in this grisly melodrama, but "Salome" makes its effect through horror, and if I have to witness horror, I like to have it convincing. The subsidiary roles were generally well sung. Ramon Vinay was an excellent Herod, Paul Schoeffier a slightly, stiff but otherwise acceptable Jochanaan, and Blanche Thebom an appropriately malignant Herodias.

"Salome" was preceded by a ballet called "Vittorio," done by the Metropolitan's corps de ballet to an assortment of lively and on familiar melodies by Giuseppe Verdi. It turned out to be a handsomely staged, but somewhat turgid spectacle, mostly concerned with the methodical delineation of a complicated plot involving a Renaissance hero, his bride, an evil gypsy, and a mysterious woman who seemed bent on blowing up the place with fireworks. Such opportunities for dancing as it presented were admirably grasped by Mia Slavenska as the gypsy, and Zachary Solov as the hero.

Photograph of Zachary Solov in Vittorio by Sedge LeBlang.

Search by season: 1954-55

Search by title: Vittorio, Salome,

Met careers