[Met Performance] CID:190200

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 17, 1962 Matinee Broadcast
Broadcast Matinee Broadcast

Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio

Review 1:

Review of Ronald Eyer in the New York Herald Tribune


Until the closing scene, this could have been one of the most genteel performances of "Salome" on record; and so small-scale were its dynamics at first that you kept feeling you were viewing the performance through the wrong end of a telescope.

The cast, except for Brenda Lewis in the title role, was the same as at previous performances: Ramon Vinay (Herod), Blanche Thebom (Herodias), Walter Cassel (Jochanaan) and William Olvis (Narraboth). After the less than sensational appearances of Jane Rhodes as the perverted princess, the switch to Brenda Lewis was waited with hopeful interest.

But again, anticipation outran results. There may be no such thing as a really good Salome, although there have been some quite satisfactory ones in the recent past, including Lily Djanel, Christel Goltz and Ljuba Welitsch, to mention three who come immediately to mind. The trouble is that the role makes triple demands of about equal urgency. The performer must be a fine singer with a big voice of a special kind; she must be a graceful dancer, and she must be an imaginative actress.

She also must give the impression of a young, sinuous girl with the impulses of a tigress and the morals of a jackal. As a royal juvenile delinquent, Salome is a lascivious little beast, and everybody should breathe easier when she finally is crushed to death under the shields of Herod's guards.

Hardly anybody, including Miss Lewis, can meet all of these qualifications. Miss Lewis' voice, to begin with, is too light and sweet in quality to intone the grim, psychopathic language she is using, and it does not have a sharp enough edge to penetrate Strauss' heavy orchestral fabric, even when Josef Rosenstock turned the volume down for her. Her big closing scene came through with intermittent brilliance, but, as a whole, her vocalism appeared microscopic. Her veil dance was not ludicrous, which is saying a good deal in view of some we have suffered through; but her acting was pretty much confined to a series of stylized gestures of the taffy-pulling variety.

Those who came through the right end of the telescope were Blanche Thebom, Walter Cassel, William Olvis and, occasionally, Ramon Vinay.

Before any further performance of "Salome," Ralph Herbert, the stage director, should call a conference of his principals to restore the orgiastic fantasy of the work and project the decadence of the whole milieu of which his leading character is properly seen as a horrifying byproduct.

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