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Subject: MET Salome, 31 March 2004, EXHAUSTING
From: "L. Dominguez" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:L. Dominguez
Date:Thu, 1 Apr 2004 08:36:12 -0500
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My fourth Salome, and counting:

1.  The boo'er actually boo'ed twice.  One soon after Karita removes the
last "veil", just before Herodes' "Ah Herrlich! Wundervoll!", though by
any means not as loud or prominent as the one he let out instantly after
the last orchestral cadence.  I was told the guy sat in the Balcony, and
got up quickly and left after his misinformed boo.  I suspect
he's "commenting" on the production, because nothing about Mattila's
Salome can he justifiably boo about, unless he's Welitsch's latest
incarnation and is feeling threatened by this upstart.  By the way, the
stage direction at the executioner's approach to Salome has been altered
since premiere night (I think by the third or fourth performance):
Mattila, instead of waiting for death still lying on the floor motionless
upon delivering her last line, now instead stands and faces the
auditorium, opening up her collar to expose her upper chest (no Janet
Jackson boobs, however), prepared to meet her fate.  The timed boo's at
the two points of Salome's 'nakedness' (though hardly any skin was exposed
the second time) lead me to suspect that the boo'er has a problem with
nudity. (Severed heads, incest, necrophilia, whatever--but nudity! OY!)

2.  There was confetti, the ever telegenic show of extreme affection, for
Karita's second curtain call.  The TV cameras were there again, and may I
suggest that this would be the curtain call to choose for the splice job
(whiting out the dumb boo!, of course) because of the dramatic confetti
and the more than thunderous ovations for the principals (though no
flowers this time).  Immediately after the fall of confetti, I observed an
usher walk up to the front family circle boxes, mirroring the
executioner's approach to Salome, I'm assuming to behead the perpetrator,
or at least decapitate his opera queen spirit.  (Bravo MET!  You will get
your wish someday for a well-behaved passionless audience, and when that
day comes you'll want to bribe people to confetti your dying stage.)

3.  Vocally, Mattila sagged by the last minutes of the final scene, though
not significant enough to ruin her near-perfect outing: the only reason I
can judge this is because I've seen/heard her do a better job in the
Saturday matinee broadcast, which found her voice and stamina at their
absolute peak.  She shortened a couple of lines, and Gergiev adjusted
admirably, carefully following Salome's cues from the stage.  I wasn't
there the other filming night, so I wouldn't be able to suggest to the MET
which final scene to include in their final edit (right, as if anyone else
listens to the garbage here ....), but if they could possibly photoshop in
the broadcast final scene, they'd have a perfect product.

4.  Bryn Terfel, who takes over Jochanaan for Albert Dohmen, is just as I
feared:  vocally flamboyant, physically agressive, dominated by his over-
acted histrionics.  His delivery was more active, as were his movements on
stage, which I thought were too crude, simple-minded, literal, and
ultimately boring.  Dohmen sounded rightfully separate from the vulgarity
transpiring around him, his every line biblical, with a still yet powerful
presence.  Terfel vocally was angry and too expressive, too "there", when
he ought to be sounding otherworldy, like the church organ (geheimnisvolle
musik, as Salome refers to it) that Dohmen was in every important aspect.

5.  Larissa Diadkova is becoming a fascinating study.  Not vocally, which
I thought last night was variable (though for the broadcast she was dead-
on), but acting-wise.  The now natural way she sways around the stage
intoxicated, taunting Herodes, exchanging looks with her daughter,
throwing things down the cistern, precariously swaying on planks and
stairs: too campy and just the appropriate hilarious counterweight to all
that love/death happening around her.  LOVE HER!  It wasn't Siegfried
Jerusalem's night: he started losing his composure as he offered Salome
his peacocks, and by the time he got to the opals and topazes he was just
about spent.

7.  I don't know why I got tickets to see the rest of this run:  I am
simply exhausted!  Attending Salome numerous times is grandly self-
indulgent, depraved, bordering on sick, I'm beginning to realize: much
like watching gory war news video from Al Jazeera over and over and over,
or having a dozen sexual relations in a single day.  Though many like to
say Salome and Elektra in one breath, I think the brutality in Elektra is
fateful, classical, justified, and therefore more palatable.  Salome, on
the other hand, steps over the boundary in eroticizing death (oh just
listen to the brass as the executioner approaches the cistern) and a
candid to-your-face production like this one is making me more uneasy
after every performance.  Of course I'm not giving up my tickets just yet
(sorry), but walking out of the opera house into the cold drizzly New York
night I had that urge to bathe.  One needs to punctuate multiple nights of
Salome with other things, so I may just have to force myself into the
Rigoletto or the Butterfly before my fifth this Saturday.  Oh the
sacrifice!


Love to all,
Leon Dominguez
NYC

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