Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last season, I really enjoyed catching a few productions of the Metropolitan Opera through their HD satellite broadcast at movie theaters. I was bummed this time around not to be able to see Doctor Atomic because of other commitments, so I made the rookie mistake of simply showing up to the next production that fit my schedule: Richard Strauss' Salome. I thought it was so terrible I couldn't even stand 45 minutes, and I usually have the patience of Job for such things. Although the sets and wardrobe were an incoherent mixture of a 30s black-tie gala, a turkish prison, and a medieval village well (simulataneously!) what really drove me was the female lead. The Biblical Salome, of course, is the young femme fatale of such seductive beauty that her step-father lusts after her; Strauss imagined a girl in her late teens in the role. The painting at the left is another representation. But instead of casting a beautiful young singer, the Met chose a 48 year old woman in the role. I can suspend my disbelief in stories involving super-powered mutants or alien empires, but that's just pushing things too far! Her "girlish" mannerisms and "seductive" gyrating were both grating & repulsive. Think me uncharitable? Imagine remaking movie Lolita starring Meryl Streep in the lead role. Streep is a great actress (and perhaps this woman was a great singer) but it just doesn't work. Anyway, a lesson learned on the need to be better informed on what I'm about to see before I trek down to see it . . .

No comments: