6.5/10
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3 user

Richard Strauss: Salome 

Oscar Wilde's scandalous play set to equally outrageous music by Richard Strauss. It caused riots when it opened but has become one of the most-often performed operas around the world.
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Karita Mattila ...
Salome, the princess of Judea
Juha Uusitalo ...
Jochanaan, the prophet
Kim Begley ...
King Herod
Ildikó Komlósi ...
Herodias
Joseph Kaiser ...
Narraboth
Lucy Schaufer ...
Page
...
Jew
Mark Showalter ...
Jew
Adam Klein ...
Jew
John Easterlin ...
Jew
James Courtney ...
Jew
Morris Robinson ...
Nazarene
Donovan Singletary ...
Nazarene
Keith Miller ...
Soldier
Richard Bernstein ...
Soldier
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Storyline

Bubbie's Seder was never like this: Herod's wife is already drunk, so he asks his step-daughter Salome for a lap-dance. She'd rather kiss John the Baptist on the mouth, but all he does is shout Bible verses at her, which is really annoying. One of Herod's guards is crazy in love with Salome and gets so jealous, he just up and kills himself right there. In the background, some Jewish scholars argue about the Talmud, but Herod insists on that lap-dance. Salome plays along if it means she can get that kiss, and before you can say "Dayenu" or "silver platter," she ruins Seder for everyone. The whole thing is just sick, sick, sick, and is set to some of the most thrilling, luscious music you ever heard. Written by dnitzer

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classical | See All (1) »

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Musical

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Release Date:

11 October 2008 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Mattila is superb in a good production of Salome....
13 October 2011 | by See all my reviews

The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD series has always been like a pleasure to me. While the odd production has been disappointing(ie. 2007/8's Hansel and Gretel or 2009's Tosca), the High Definition always looks fantastic and coming from someone who loves opera especially when presented well that's a joy to me.

This production is good if somewhat uneven. So far my favourite Salome is the 1975 film, Stratas mayn't be the ideal Salome being a lyric soprano in alternative to a dramatic soprano but she does do a terrific job with the role, Dance of the Seven Veils even with the slow tempo is wonderfully erotic, Bohm's Strauss expertise comes through loud and clear and there are brilliant performances from Varnay and Weikl. The Caballe and Milnes recording is also excellent.

I will say that I personally loved the look of the production. True, the settings are not exactly biblical, but the production are suitably sumptuous. And as you would expect the HD is wonderful, with clear picture quality and mostly clever video directing though some of close ups of Mattila are rather cruel. I don't really have to say how good the music is, perhaps not as lush as Rosenkavalier or as brutal as Elektra, but I cannot deny that it is a powerful score, and no it is not only Dance of the Seven Veils, which is appropriately sensual here.

When it comes to the orchestra and conducting, they aren't terrible as such, I just wasn't bowled over. The orchestral playing is solid though the trumpets could have a little more dynamic shading. The conducting has some much needed bombast, however in other scenes some subtlety and sensuality wouldn't have gone amiss. The sound is very good.

As for the cast mostly they're fine. The chorus are good enough. Kim Begley vocally is rather wobbly as Herod and has a tendency to bark, however at least his acting is more than stand-and-deliver quality. Ildiko Kimlosi gives a very well characterised Herodias, that said she is rather shrill on her high notes. The best of the support cast is the performance of Jochannan Juha Uusutalo, his voice mayn't be the most powerful of all the bass-baritones in the role but it does have presence and he is charismatic.

But this production will always be worth watching for Karita Mattila. Vocally she is not perfect, it has power but has lost some of its beauty. However, as a very intelligent singer she really throws herself into the punishing role of Salome and the result is a hugely compelling performance throughout. She sings, she acts, she dances, all three of which she excels at. I'd also like to say this, while it is a little obvious in the scene where Salome is cradling and kissing Jochannan's chopped off head is rather doll-like really, because of the intelligent approach that Mattila brings and the impact of the music at this particular moment, it is actually rather shocking.

All in all, a good Salome, Mattila is the best thing about it. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox


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