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Subject: SALOME opening night MET 5 December
From: "Takis Pavl." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Takis Pavl.
Date:Thu, 8 Dec 2016 13:17:32 +0000
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Thepremiere of Salome at the MET was enthusiastically received last Monday. Afterthe inspiring Manon Lescaut on Saturday I was hoping for an equally excitingnight. The drama was there in every way, all singers were involved and focused.The modern staging worked to a certain extent even though the “cocktail party”concept is not entirely original. One major objection though! If as a stagedirector you need to use amplification in a scene because you envisioned Jochanaanin a cave under the stage, you’re in the wrong genre. Opera is N O T to beamplified for any reason. It means you, as an operatic stage director need tofind a different way to create your eerie effect. I hope there will be lettersbecause it’s depressing to see the MET accepting such a development in stagedirection and the audience not protesting. 

Ifdramatically almost everyone was at their best, vocally things were lesssatisfying. The men were more or less up to the demands of their roles with GerhardSiegel as Herod standing out, giving in my opinion the finest performance ofthe evening balancing the vocal and dramatic aspects of his role to greateffect.  Nancy Fabiola Herrera asHerodias was neither vocally satisfying nor dramatically so inspiring. Shemostly emoted and the voice sounded under-powered and unsteady. But within thecontext of a gripping performance on the whole she didn’t annoy me that much. 

A couple ofpeople informed me beforehand that Salome has been Patricia Racette’s biggestsuccess in recent years. She certainly gave 100% of her commitment, voice andenergy to it. She is clearly the ‘singing actress’ type of soprano. The danceof the seven veils was dramatically outstanding, complete with full frontalnudity that didn’t insult (I wonder if this is why Naglestad withdrew!); Racetteis an actress of the highest standard. And to a certain extent this productionand role needs it. But I fear this for me is simply not enough because there isalso the musical part of opera and there voice and singing technique are thebasis of success. She wobbled through the role, at extreme pressure thewobble was as wide as a whole tone. In lower lying passages she was inaudibleand never did her sound easily cut through the orchestra as it should do inthis music. I almost felt sorry for her in her long final scene. Not everyone has the voice of Nilsson but there have been enough lyric sopranos who’ve sung this musicproperly. Welitsch and Caballe were also lighter for example but could project perfectly. At least I’ve witnessed a “kunstdiva”and can honestly say I don’t buy this type of singing for a second. Theaudience was ecstatic however but every time I closed my eyes, I thought ofevery other soprano who has sung this music with a healthy, steady sound andgreat projection. Bravo to Racette for everything she did on stage but I’ll belooking forward to another Salome. Overall an exciting night but theManon Lescaut on Saturday was the highlight of my busy operatic weekend in N.Y.cheersTakis          
  

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