Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed.... See full summary »
After moving his family back to his hometown to be with his friends and their kids, Lenny finds out that between old bullies, new bullies, schizo bus drivers, drunk cops on skis, and 400 costumed party crashers sometimes crazy follows you.
Thanks to Malfitano, Terfel and Silja, this is a Salome worth looking out for
I love and admire the music of Richard Strauss, and Salome is no exception. As far as Strauss operas go I slightly prefer Der Rosenkavalier and Elektra, but Salome is very compelling with some of Strauss' most inspired passages, particularly Dance of the Seven Veils.
This 1997 Salome is definitely worthwhile, though I found myself more receptive to the 1975 film and 1990 Deutsch Oper production, but feel it's on the same level of the 1992 performance with Maria Ewing. The sets are suitably minimalist, an effect I found effective, with a touch of avant garde, and the lighting is dark without being too dim you can't see anything. The costumes are not bad as such, but don't entirely fit with the setting and story, especially Salome's.
Salome's(1997) choreography is also good, Dance of the Seven Veils is wonderfully erotic. The staging is fine as well, with no major distractions from the libretto, surprising considering it is the same Luc Bondy who was responsible for the pretty dreadful Met production of Tosca. I just loved the emphasis on the sexuality too, it is shown as very masochistic and destructive, which I did find fitting.
Anyway, the video directing is skillful, not too many close-ups or camera work that is so far away there is a lack of intimacy. The picture quality is generally crisp, and the sound is good mostly apart from the odd muffled or static moment.
Musically, it is excellent a vast majority of the time. Only the first 30 minutes disappoints, the orchestra is on the bland side which is the complete opposite considering some of the music at this point is very powerful. Dohnanyi's conducting is authoritative and musical.
The singing and acting are superb. I do agree to some extent about Kenneth Riegel. Now there are moments where some solid singing technique is shown and he is suitably arrogant. Against all this, I think Riegel is more a lyric tenor, Herod is the complete opposite of that, and due to some of the strain and cracks emerging at times I worry that the role was too heavy for Riegel's voice.
On the other hand, Anja Silja is appropriately icy as Herodias, the role is almost up to Klytemnestra's(Elektra) level on the odious scale, and not only is Silja a great singer she is a riveting actress. Catherine Malfitano is exceptional as Salome, the last twenty minutes is so evocative and tense, and Malfitano meets this perfectly. Maybe at the start she lacks the girlish quality of Salome, that said she is very convincing and merciless as an actress and the singing shows heft and vocal colour.
Which leads me to Bryn Terfel. As Jokanaan, I have seen Bernd Weikl and Simon Estes and heard Sherrill Milnes opposite Caballe(late 60s I believe). All three are excellent, however I personally find Terfel the most compelling. Vocally he shows charisma, is very musically committed and a lot of beauty and power in his voice, and dramatically he is incredibly compelling, devout, agonised and very determined.
In conclusion, definitely worth the look. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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