THE HANGOVER REPORT – Patricia Racette’s raw performance lifts the Met’s SALOME

Richard Strauss’s lurid and luscious Salome has long been one of my sentimental favorites in the operatic repertoire. Strauss’s powerful, sensuous opera is one that exudes, at least for me, characteristics that epitomize the art form of opera itself – majestic scope, larger than life emotions, and a slightly but irresistibly kitschy and exotic setting. Luckily over the years, I’ve experienced some memorable Salomes, including German soprano Gun-Brit Barkman for the Vienna State Opera featuring Andris Nelsons’ brilliant conducting, the then newly-svelte American soprano Deborah Voigt for the Lyric Opera of Chicago under the baton of Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, and Angela Denoke for the Royal Opera also led by Mr. Nelsons. Most recently, I was able to catch American soprano Patricia Racette take on the title role at the Metropolitan Opera.

Patricia Racette in the title role of "Salome" at the Metropolitan Opera

Patricia Racette in the title role of “Salome” at the Metropolitan Opera

It’s safe to say, I’m happy to report, that Ms. Racette’s emotionally raw Salome has joined the ranks of the mentioned illustrious performances. This may come as a surprise since Ms. Racette wasn’t initially intended to star in the current Met run; she was brought in when original star Catherine Naglestad took ill. Although she no longer has the effortlessly ringing sound she once had – some of the more fiendishly difficult passages were muscled through – Ms. Racette more than compensated by giving the Met audience a dramatically vital, fully-considered performance. Salome’s journey from an impetuous girl to a woman contemplating (albeit grotesquely) the nature of love vis-à-vis death had us in the palm of her hands. Just as important, her “Dance of the Seven Veils” was probably the most dangerous and erotic I’ve seen (bravo to choreographer Doug Varone).

The production by Jürgen Flimm captures the lurid, slightly campy world of the opera very nicely, thanks in large part to veteran theater designer Santo Loquasto’s sets and costumes. Although conductor Johannes Debus didn’t quite elicit the same ecstatic reading of the score from the Met Orchestra as Mr. Nelsons did from both the Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera orchestras, it’s a perfectly commendable rendition that chillingly hits all the right marks when he’s supposed to. Standouts from the cast include Željko Lučić’s brooding yet gorgeous-sounding Jochanaan and Gerhard Siegel’s ideal Herod that’s both comical and dangerousl



The Metropolitan Opera
1 hour, 40 minutes (without an intermission)
In repertory through December 28

Categories: Music, Opera

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