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Subject: Re: Met Broadcasts We Wish We Had
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 11 Sep 2017 11:54:31 -0400

text/plain (100 lines)

"Yes!  FRAU would be my first choice too, followed by the release of
SALOME with Karita Mattila in her initial performance of the role
at the Met, which was taped but has never been shown."

* * * * *  
f you can get your hands on it, Mattilas role debut for Paris from a season 
or two before the Met performances, is pretty amazing.  

For anyone unfamiliar with it and interested, here’s my original review from a
a decade or so ago.

"Tired of waiting for the Met to release its DVD of her Salome, I just 
watched Karita Mattila’s first go at the role from Paris.   A thrilling and  
captivating performance, it finds the soprano in stunning voice, though at 
her limit, and offers more than an inkling of just how deep this character 
would sink into her marrow a season or two later when she took Manhattan 
by storm in Jurgen Flimm’s production.  

Lev Dodin’s stark, spare production for Bastille creates an enormous 
playing field for all of the horrors of Herod’s palace to play out.  Stage left 
rear offers a tall parapet with long staircase, with enormous Cypress trees 
dominating center rear creating a private oasis, as if to close off this place 
from the rest of the world.  A pale, moon makes its presence known 
wending its orbit across the rear scrim, appearing first behind the trees, 
then during Salome’s unraveling, as we witness an eclipse.  Nice symbolic 
touch, that.  

This Salome is a depraved wreck from the moment she sets her pretty 
sandaled toes onto the stage,   and nearly everything that happens feels as 
though a regular occurrence for this household.  A hair twirling, fidgety, 
disaster in the making, Mattila is attired in a revealing short, sheer black 
top, her breasts frequently dropping from beneath it ( you try not to 
watch!)  while her taut, white belly can only be described as “delicious.”  
Manipulative, sexually aware and willing to use her body shamelessly, this 
Salome’s naïveté blinds her, at least partially, to the depravity and horror 
surrounding her.  

William Burden’s Narraboth looks and sounds terrific his desire for Salome 
captured perfectly, even as he recoils in shame, when the Princess asks to 
be shown the Prophet, as she gropes and grabs at him, pressing her flesh 
around and into his.  It all feels so deliciously wrong.  

Jokanaann is contained in a two story cage which slowly thrusts out to 
center stage making the prophet into a sort of dangerous animal.  Falk 
Struckmann (as usual) sounds glorious, his attention to the text riveting, 
though his costume leaves much to be desired.  

Chris Merritt actually sings the role better than the barkers we’d grown 
accustomed to, part of a trend I’m noticing;  aging lyrics ending their 
careers with this role, which makes far better musical sense than 
as a heldentenor’s swansong.

Ana Silja is not nearly as effective as I’d hoped, while playing gamely 
throughout (and having some good moments) she becomes, at times, 
inaudible and was oddly absent at the curtain call - a glaringly missed 
presence.  (I later read she had taken ill and was replaced in subsequent 

The dance:  This Salome is already ready for the dance – as she must be 
all the time.  It’s all a little creepy.  Mattila, a natural athlete, performs a 
sensual, sometimes violent dance, sometimes barely moving at all.  But 
with deep lunges, crawling, back bends, hanging upside down from 
Jokanaan’s cage,  she does it all before ending in the sheer black top hiding 

Musically, the role holds no terrors for Mattila, tearing into the text as few 
sopranos have, playing with it, teasing us – and her stepfather, every step 
along the way.  Early on high notes sound pushed and steely – yet still 

Warmed up for the Final Scene she’s physically and aurally gorgeous 
in a dramatic, credible and frequently beautiful performance.  Her business 
with the head is a study in understated gruesomeness, as she stares, talks 
to, tries to animate her prize while being alternately fascinated and 
horrified by it until – completely unhinged - she “goes in for the kill” as her 
parents – and we – watch on in utter revulsion. While we don’t see 
her “killed," the final effect is a nice, chilling coupe de theatre that propels the
the audience (as if they needed further reasons) into a predictable, if well ear
earned, raucous ovation.  

James Conlon puts the Paris forces through the wringer, in a sensual, richly 
colored reading emphasizing (as few today do) the “weird” and “modern” 
qualities of this score."

I'm going to watch it again soon!


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