[Met Performance] CID:295540
Salome {119} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/25/1989.

(review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 25, 1989


SALOME {119}

Salome..................Eva Marton
Herod...................Richard Cassilly
Herodias................Helga Dernesch
Jochanaan...............Bernd Weikl
Narraboth...............Neil Rosenshein
Page....................Brenda Boozer
Jew.....................James Courtney
Jew.....................Philip Creech
Jew.....................Bernard Fitch
Jew.....................John Gilmore
Jew.....................Anthony Laciura
Nazarene................David Hamilton
Nazarene................Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Soldier.................Ara Berberian
Soldier.................Terry Cook
Cappadocian.............Philip Cokorinos
Slave...................Yun Deng
Executioner.............Byl Thompson

Conductor...............Marek Janowski




Review of Martin Mayer in Opera (UK)

ROCKEFELLER CENTER 'SALOME'

New York. February 20 was Bible day here, with a new production of "Salome" at the METROPOLITAN OPERA and a concert version of "Nabucco" at CARNEGIE HALL. I caught the Salome on February 25, "Nabucco" being a one-off, but it deserves pride of place. It is the first ever 'modern' (i.e., German-expressionist what-the-hell-is-it-doing-here) production the Met has presented. And it does indeed work, though for precisely the wrong reason-because Eva Marton is such an extravagant and extraordinary soprano. If the title role is sung as splendidly as Marton sang it, you could set "Salome" as a tale of Martians on Mars and nobody would mind.

Nikolaus Lehnhoff, with help from Jurgen Rose, has placed the opera in art deco New York of the 1930s, though the costumes derive from art nouveau of the 1900s. The set is an enclosed basement courtyard surrounded by sloping walls with a surround balcony high above. Giant windows just above open into ornamented halls with Rockefeller Center artwork and decadent citizenry dancing. At the [start], corpses on the courtyard floor are dumped by myrmidons down a convenient sewer, separate from the tunnel that houses Jochanaan. This grill-covered sewer comes in handy when it is time to dispose of Narraboth. Herod wears a leopard-skin jacket and shirt in the style of Mobuto; Herodias wears a green off-the-shoulder sheath with parrotlike puffs at the upper arm. Salome wears pink taffeta, as teenagers did in the 1930s. The Jews are dressed like Mafia hoods, the soldiers like Nazi SS.

So far as I can see, none of this means anything at all, but it doesn't seriously get in the way. Everybody sang well, Neil Rosenshein as Narraboth and Ara Berberian as Second Soldier exceptionally well. Bernd Weikl was a pretty cold fish of a Jochanaan, though Strauss would not have minded that. The direction encouraged Richard Cassilly as Herod to run around too much (in shirt sleeves, after saying how cold the wind is), and the stress on the Page's homosexual attachment to Narraboth in the [first] pages made his suicide in despair over Salome even more inexplicable than usual. Marton's dance would have discouraged rather than aroused the horniest satyr. But the worst problem was the lady's clear distaste for the head (not, as a friend rather awfully commented, her dish). Where less inhibited Salomes slobber over the part of Jochanaan they bought (I have seen severed heads rubbed in crotches), Marton places the thing to one side as soon as she can, and when she absolutely must kiss it she places it on the side of her away from the audience and covers over whatever she is doing with her arm. Nevertheless, with zero sexual charge to offer and without much help from the colourless if efficient Marek Janowski in the pit, Marton on voice alone made the final scene a wrenching statement of agony.



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