The Metropolitan Opera – Jürgen Flimm’s production of Richard Strauss’s Salome – Kirsten Chambers, Želijko Lučić, Gerhard Siegel, Nancy Fabiola Herrera; conducted by Johannes Debus

Salome – Opera in one Act to a libretto by the composer based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde [sung in German with English Met Titles by Christopher Bergen]

Narraboth – Kang Wang
The Page – Carolyn Sproule
First Soldier – Nicholas Brownlee
Second Soldier – Joseph Barron
Jochanaan – Željko Lučić
A Cappadocian – John Hancock
Salome – Kirsten Chambers
A Slave – Kathryn Day
Herod – Gerhard Siegel
Herodias – Nancy Fabiola Herrera
First Jew – Allan Glassman
Second Jew – Mark Schowalter
Third Jew – Noah Baetge
Fourth Jew – Alex Richardson
Fifth Jew – David Crawford
First Nazarene – Mikhail Petrenko
Second Nazarene – Paul Corona
Executioner – Reginald Braithwaite

Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Johannes Debus

Jürgen Flimm – Production
Santo Loquasto – Set & Costume Designer
James F. Ingalls – Lighting Designer
Doug Varone – Choreographer

Reviewed by: Christopher Browner

Reviewed: 13 December, 2016
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera – Jürgen Flimm’s production of Richard Strauss’s SalomeGerhard Siegel as Herod, Nancy Fabiola Herrera as Herodias, and Patricia Racette in the title role of Strauss's SalomePhotograph: Ken HowardRichard Strauss’s 1905 shocker Salome – with its complex modernist score, unhinged plot, and famously lurid ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ – always ensures a thrilling night in the theater, but this excitement was further heightened by the last-minute debut of Kirsten Chambers in the daunting title-role.

Replacing the indisposed Patricia Racette, Chambers threw herself entirely into this impulsive character, showing only occasional signs of tentativeness. While the middle of her instrument occasionally drowned in Strauss’s orchestration, her singing was marked by a fiery timbre and high notes that had both steely focus and shimmery luster. Early on, Chambers relied on superficial poses to portray Salome’s youth, but in pivotal moments – such as her confrontational duet with Jochanaan and the destructive final scene – she offered a far more psychologically detailed approach. ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ was handled with nuance and oozed sexuality, making hearts race.

The Metropolitan Opera – Jürgen Flimm’s production of Richard Strauss’s SalomePatricia Racette in the title role and Željko Lučić as Jochanaan in Strauss's SalomePhotograph: Ken HowardAs Jochanaan (John the Baptist), Željko Lučić sang with his uniquely smoky baritone and great resonance. His impassioned outbursts were powerful without ever sounding forced, and he imbued prophetic pronouncements with gravitas. As an actor, Lučić gave a relatively safe performance during his brief visual appearance but wasn’t helped by Santo Loquasto’s rather dumpy costuming.

Gerhard Siegel was an appropriately slimy Herod, lusting after his alluring stepdaughter. At times his tone lacked clarity, but in the upper reaches, he produced ringing top notes. Opposite him as Herodias, Nancy Fabiola Herrera brought a manic physical portrayal, and she cut through the dense orchestral writing.

Kang Wang sang with a robust-yet-youthful tenor as Narraboth, the hopelessly infatuated Captain of the Guard. The Met must be commended for fielding a cast of excellent singers in the many supporting roles, especially the quintet of Jews.

Johannes Debus drew a rich palette of color from the Orchestra. He let Strauss lead the action despite a production by Jürgen Flimm that does little to probe into the dramatic intricacies of this masterwork.

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