Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Salome to die for

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I just saw the most fantastic Salome. I had been running on empty today but this opera and music has completely revived me. Now I sit in a tiny Italian restaurant with a candle, a glass of wine and spaghetti, trying to absorb what I have just seen.

The scene and costume designer of Salome, Rosalie, died on 12 June this year ( just a few days ago)  and this production was her last work. The cast dedicated the evening to her.  She is well known for her work and judging by the quality of this production she deserved every accolade she has received.

I had seen the American Met of Salome as a movie. All I remember of that production was an alluring dance and Salome singing to a dreadful severed head. Any explanation of why Salome acts as she does remained a mystery. Perhaps seeing Salome simply as evil seductress (the whore/saint divide) makes sense to the Americans.

In the Leipzig production Salome's behaviour is no longer a riddle. She is shown in the middle of a decadent society with an dissolute mother and abusive step-father. The dance which is central to the opera is no longer a dance of seduction but a story of Salome's abuse as a child. The step father sits taking photos on his smart phone during the dance performed by Salome and figures with masks, including two small girls.

The score is very moving and particularly so when played by the Leipzig orchestra conducted by Ulf Schirmer, who has a reputation as the best Strauss conductor alive. What better place to hear a Strauss festival?  What better place to hear an inspired Salome.

Last but not least, all credit to the marvellous Swedish soprano Elisabet Strid  who sang and acted this difficult role with such persuasiveness. Brava Brava!
Elisabet Strid takes a bow, with cast of Salome

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