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Subject: Salome
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 18 Dec 2016 02:01:45 -0500

text/plain (52 lines)

I was looking forward to hearing Salome today since it's one of my top
five favorite operas, from both the vocal and orchestral standpoint.  It was
pretty obvious to me that Patricia Racette has a problematical top, which is
a real handicap in this particular role.  I thought the top Bs and Cs were
more willed than sung, and I didn't think her basement low notes were as
full and as dramatic as they needed to be.  She got through it, however, and
managed to maintain her artistic credibility.
     I've had great luck with my viewings of Salome.  My first Salome was
Ana Silja, who remains the greatest Salome I ever saw.  She was pure
electricity from her entrance through the last note of her final scene.  Her
dance began, if I remember,  with her being covered in black (looking like a
moving apparition of death), and she was downright creepy and macabre. 
During the last seven minutes of the dance, she was armed with whips and
chains.  No nudity. Her voice was interesting but certainly not spectacular. 
    A few years later came a concert performance at Symphony Center with
Birgit Nilsson/George Solti.  Unforgettable!  Solti's work with the Chicago
Symphony was magical and Nilsson was Nilsson.  The sheer size of her voice
and her stentorian delivery was enough.  I'll never forget THAT Sunday
    Grace Bumbry also performed a fine Salome.  She had those top notes, and
of course the very low ones.  She reminded me in her final scene of a
teenage girl playing with a doll.  Also a Salome to remember.
    There is no question that the role is a killer.  Poor Felicia Weathers
(does anyone remember her?) sang a Salome series here that probably helped
her burn out her voice just a couple of short years later (when she sang a
voiceless Liu here against the mighty Nilsson's Turandot).  She then
vanished from sight.
    I wish I had seen Rysanek do it.  I've heard a live recording and she
had the ideal vocal equipment for it ---- and was a great actress.
    My biggest Salome surprise is Montserrat Caballe, who never sang the
role in the United States (wise idea) but sang it plenty of times in Europe.
 She sounded fabulous, and amazingly enough, was very potent dramatically,
especially in the final scene.  Her RCA Victor recording (done in 1968), is
to me her greatest singing on records.  
    With all due respect, Pat Racette's Salome is simply nowhere near the
level attained by any of the above mentioned soprano's Salome.


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