Florida Grand Opera assembled a fine cast for Richard Strauss’s Salome, and Timothy Myers conducted an excellent traversal of the score (in a reduced version for an orchestra of seventy-five).
In the title role Melody Moore surged powerfully and was outstanding dramatically. As Salome interacted Moore brought out diverse aspects of the princess’s personality: coquettish when wheedling Narraboth; aggressive in her encounter with Jokanaan; petulant when defying the invitations of her stepfather, Herod; driven while performing ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’; and utterly obsessed in her soliloquy to the Baptist’s severed head.
Mark Delavan was notable as Jokanaan, booming prophetic pronouncements from the cistern in which he is imprisoned, and forcefully rejecting Salome’s advances. John Easterlin made Herod a fully-developed persona: fearful and cowering, superstitious, flighty and indecisive, and prone to making irrational decisions – until he reaches breaking point and orders Salome put to death.
Elizabeth Bishop adds a terrific Herodias to her repertory: her majestic voice and imperious demeanor make her an ideal portrayer of Salome’s domineering mother. There were fine performances from Benjamin Werley as Narraboth and Mariya Kaganskaya as Herodias’s Page; and the contrapuntal quarreling of the five Jews was particularly well done.
Boyd Ostroff’s set is attractive but somewhat awkward, being dominated by a wide central staircase concealing Jokanaan’s cistern. Richard St. Clair’s costumes and Kevin G. Mynatt’s lighting are effective, and Sue Schaefer has helped create a highly realistic head of Jokanaan for the final scene.