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Chat: Salome

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Photo: Ken Howard

  • Sempre Liberal

    First Brexit. I didn’t see that coming.
    Then Trump wins. Didn’t see that coming.
    Then Racette rocks the house as Salome. Didn’t see that coming as well.

    I’ve always found Patricia Racette to be an excellent actress, and she channeled her inner horny teenager with a perverted streak and rode it to perfection tonight. She did go the full Mattila tonight (Kostelnicka would not have approved, but Mattila would have.)

    • QuantoPainyFakor

      Maybe now Netrebko will do the full Mattila in an opera.

      • spiderman

        When we talk about the “full Mattila”, do we mean the split? :)

        • Daniel Swick

          A split of sorts, yes.

          • Sempre Liberal

            You’re making a girl blush

        • Sempre Liberal

          I forgot Mattila did a split too (before the last veil, to be sure). Racette didn’t do one.

          • spiderman

            I think Mattila did the split on top of the cistern when she asked “willst du mir wirklich alles geben …?”

    • Cha-Cha-San

      Salome is one of my favorite operas, and therefore I so wish I shared your sentiments, Sempre.

      I agree with you that Racette fared better at the end than I expected she would, but to my ears the beginning was a true nightmare. Her pitch was all over the place and she was sporting a wobble that threatened to take the whole piece down. (Lucic didn’t fare much better in terms of pitch, I’m afraid.) So although the closing was decent, in my mind it simply couldn’t make up for the abysmal first two-thirds of the performance. Additionally, I was sitting in the back of the orchestra and (perhaps thankfully?) lost big swaths of what she was singing. Lucic, for better or for worse, could at least always be heard.

      I thought the strongest parts of the show belonged to Kang Wang, who seems a promising newcomer, and much to my surprise, Gerhard Siegel. He got a bit screamy in places for my taste, but his characterization was wonderful and oddly compelling.

      It’s always hard when the originally slated performer has to drop out, as happened with Naglestad, but could the Met really not find anyone better than Racette to replace her? It boggles the mind.

      • Cameron Kelsall

        “It’s always hard when the originally slated performer has to drop out, as happened with Naglestad, but could the Met really not find anyone better than Racette to replace her? It boggles the mind.”

        How many artists of note at any given time have Salome in their active repertory and are available to basically immediately jump into rehearsals, as Racette did? It also helps that Racette is American, so no visa processing to deal with. On paper, the choice seems a no-brainer — and given the ecstatic ovation she received last night, I doubt they’re regretting the decision.

        • chicagoing

          With a performance scheduled on Christmas Eve jumping into this production may have also required a complete change of holiday plans.

        • The, um, reveal about Racette flashing the ‘Full Mattila’ explains a lot about why there was an immense, house-wide roar of approval for her at the final curtain. Which is not to say that the audience was comprised of prurient pervs, but that they rewarded her usual, and admirable, fearlessness. Of the voice, there remains but a shred. Listening from home was nerve wracking, but for all the wrong reasons, although it was clear that she was deep into the character and didn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t, let go, no matter what emerged from her throat. Once in a while an isolated top note emerged unscathed from the pitch debris, and her low and bottom notes were very good. For once the princess’s gabbly gutteral babblings to der Kopf emerged with shocking clarity. Fabiola-Herrera was fabiol-ulous. Actually too beautiful a voice for Strauss’s cruel writing. Herodias’s music never sounded so good. Loved Siegel too. He seemed like a Gerhard Stolze pyscho screamer type, which I personally love, and he was, but the voice is of a much finer grade, and he actually sang, and the voice sounded huge. Herod’s command to kill that Weib was terrifying. Several small role debuts (Wang etc.) and Met supporting singers filled the various cameo roles very well.
          Debus’s debut revealed a maestro who could deliver, but I too found the total arc on the wan side, despite the on-stage histrionics. He got a gorgeously diaphanous sound from the great orchestra, but for my taste the score needs a harder, darker dramatic core, like one of the tainted jewels that Herod offers.

      • Sempre Liberal

        Rear orchestra is tough. I heard her perfectly in a Grand Tier Box, and she didn’t sound bad to me. I’ve heard her struggle before, which is why I was so surprised she sounded so good. I agree Kang Wang has a lovely voice. Siegel was great. His final line was a machine gun of power. I’m sure there’ll be a Euro staging with Trump as Herod and Ivanka as Salome. John the Baptist’s head could wear a “Make America Great Again” hat.

  • How as the conductor, Johannes Debus?

    • fletcher

      I was listening to the radio broadcast; I thought the conducting was very good, if a little tame in some of the more raucous passages. I imagine he was being rather gracious to the singers.

      • Thanks Fletcher. Johannes is our music director in Toronto so I was rooting for a success.

  • rapt

    Here’s the first review I’ve seen (Bernheimer)--
    Oops--a firewall! But here;s a quote:

    “the great Met orchestra, led by Johannes Debus of the Canadian Opera, made a mighty if sometimes raucous noise. Subtle instrumental nuances proved scarce.

    “Still, one could savour vital individual compensations. The evening belonged, rightly, to Patricia Racette, who portrayed the princess of Judea in place of Catherine Naglestad, reportedly unwell in Europe. Racette, 51, rose to the challenge with gutsy abandon, singing with almost unflagging power and inflecting the text with illuminating stresses. She manoeuvred the cluttered stage with grace, and, yes, bared all for a brief moment as she discarded her seventh veil.”

    • Gianmarco Segato

      darned firewall!!!

  • Gianmarco Segato

    Listened to the whole thing online. Felt that Racette sounded best in the finale -- the tone was less loose and she was certainly giving her all. Big hurrah to hometown Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus in his MET debut! Here’s a blogger’s perspective: