[Met Performance] CID:302820

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, December 15, 1990 Matinee Broadcast
Broadcast Matinee Broadcast

Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio

Review 1:

Review of Bruce-Michael Gelbert in the New York Native

Richard Strauss's "Salome," after great gay playwright Oscar Wilde's play, was another late-in-the-year Met entry. Director Nikolaus Lehnhoff and designer Jurgen Rose's updated production, set in the lobby and basement-and dungeon-of a skyscraper, had its premiere in February 1989.

Of chief interest was the Salome of Hildegard Behrens, an interpretation introduced locally this season. She appeared the picture of innocence in a frilly pink party dress; was entranced by Jochanaan and surprised and upset when he rebuffed her; and cloaked herself, fetishistically, in his cape for her dance. She flung cape, feathers, and, finally, pink gown down into the dungeon where the prophet was imprisoned, and stamped her feet and paced frantically when her wishes were not immediately granted. Behrens was invariably musical in the initial scenes, finessing the high phrases with gleaming tone and turning flaws to her advantage, using a register break, for instance, for effect, She was overwhelmed, however, by the demands of the all-important finale, and failed not only to sustain the tone throughout the lines, but also to muster full sound for most dramatic passages. She regained control briefly in the choked, orgasmic penultimate, phrases.

While not the heroic baritone ideal for Jochanaan, Ekkehard Wlaschiha made his mark, singing in a strong "character" voice, and looking properly beatific in white robe, bathed in bright spotlight; reacting with horror on first seeing Salome; and posturing like a man possessed.

Graham Clark was the stentorian, lecherous, and haunted Herod. Helga Dernesch repeated her colorful, cackling, and icily imperious Herodias. Mark Baker was the able Narraboth, the captain obsessed with Salome, and Diane Kesling, "en travesti," the page fixated on Narraboth.

The orchestra, under James Conlon, sounded sonorous but rarely relentless or driven. The treatment of the argumentative quintet of Jews, shady and screamy here, remained problematic. Herodias no longer left with the spectacularly muscled executioner (Sheldia, Scruggs) at the end. That Salome was not killed at opera's conclusion was surely the one unpardonable liberty this staging took with the text's directions.

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