La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Opera de Montréal’s Salomé a Hit


by Wah Keung Chan
photo: Yves Renaud

The Montreal Opera has a bona fide hit on its hands with its current production of Richard Strauss’s Salomé. Across the board, the cast is exceptional starting with German soprano Nicola Beller Carbone whose youthful and svelte figure made her perfect for the lead. While her spinto voice lacked the fullness of legato desired in last year’s Tosca, it was ideal in this angst filled role. Dramatically, Beller Carbone was convincing, especially in the ghastly way she handled the head of John the Baptist.

This staging will surely be noted for the full nudity at the end of the dance of the seven veils. However, the one disappointment is the setting of the dance itself. Normally, design to titillate, American director Seán Curran provided a clumsy hohum sequence that did not always flow. The 10-second pause before the big “nude” reveal telegraphed the potential shock, which went off with a yawn.

Bruno Schwengl's sets (a co-production of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera and Montreal Opera) were imaginative with its circles and the main room draw in perspective, while the costumes combined avant-garde with roman.

British bass-baritone Robert Hayward was a commanding Jokanaan (John the Basptist). Tenor John Mac Master brought the right weight and drama to the role of Herod while mezzo Judith Forst was still in fresh voice as Herodias. Tenor Roger Honeywell distinguished as the infatuated Narraboth as did Chantal Denis as the Page.

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin made the Orchestre Métropolitain sound Straussian.

Salomé repeats on March 23, 26, 28 and 31.
> operademontreal.com

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La Scena Musicale has a block of tickets for Salomé as a fundraiser. To order, call 514-948-2520 or email donation@lascena.org

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