Salome at NYCO
Posted 11 October 2002 - 07:48 AM
The Canadian soprano who took the title role, Eilana Lappalainen, seems to have made a specialty of Salome. According to the program, she has sung it "in ten cities in Japan, as well as Trieste, Dessau, Mannheim, Ottawa, Montreal, and Seattle." Nevertheless, the NY Times critic noted shortcomings in her voice. I didn't. Although she was drowned out by the orchestra a couple of times, very briefly, I found her singing musically and dramatically excellent, and her characterization of Salome unforgettable -- sexually voracious, petulant, and vindictive. My kind of woman. ;)
Apropos a recent thread about "Salomania," Lappalainen's "dance of the seven veils" was a good, honest striptease that started out with her in a long white dress. That dress, I suppose, is what led the Times critic to mention Rita Hayworth (Gilda?), but I found the comparison inapt. What was unprecedented about the dance, in my experience, was that I heard not a single embarrassed giggle in the audience while it was going on. I suppose credit must go to the choreographer, Sergio Trujillo and his assistant, Esperanza Galan. And to the Salome herself. Incidentally, in addition to being listed as a choreographer, Ms. Galan is still on the NYCO roster as a dancer. She's been there for decades. More power to her.
As Jocchanaan, Mark Delavan was as powerful as always. And the prop department did a Madame Tussaud-type job with his severed head, The evening as a whole was a great night at the opera. And in the latest instance of Salomania, when Lappalainen came out for her curtain call, wearing a white wrapper smeared with Jocchanaan's blood, a man behind me called out, "Take it off!"
Posted 11 October 2002 - 10:27 AM
Salome is a hard one, because visually you want a soprano who can convey youthfulness and sensuality, but vocally you want Birgit Nilsson, and it's very tough on the voice -- just ask Ljuba Welitsch. It sounds as if Lappalainen has the looks and is going to ruin her voice riding Strauss' orchestra. She may sound okay now, but just wait a bit. Oh well, it's her career.
Posted 11 October 2002 - 04:27 PM
While there are some opera where stairs are appropriate--"Lucia" for example, for the mad scene, "Romeo and Juliet"--gratuitous stairs have infested opera stages for a number of years. What seems to be replacing the stairs, though, are chairs. Hanging from the walls, from the stage ceiling, tipped over on the floor--chairs as symbols of something. But not chairs to sit on. Odd, but that's the world of oprera design in this century.
and further "What was unprecedented about the dance, in my experience, was that I heard not a single embarrassed giggle in the audience while it was going on."
The production team must have done an excellent job (not to mention Ms. Lappalainen)--or perhaps NYCO audiences are more sophisticated than in the past. Often when the Dance of the Seven Veils begins, one can hear a lot of emphatic "clicks" as wives shut opera glasses that husbands are opening for the first time that evening.
Regarding the artist who portrays Salome, Richard Strauss had imagined 'a 16-year-old princess with the voice of Isolde'. Since there aren't many of those paragons available, a dancer often substitutes during the Dance of the Seven Veils.
"Take it off" is better than a number of things that could have been yelled--"Put it back on" for example. Opera audiences seem to be more vocally demonstrative than others and for "Salome" especially. It is done as one huge, 80-plus minute act that begins at a very high dramatic level and goes into the dramatic stratosphere. The tension in the audience by the end (brimming bladders notwithstanding) is very high. The only other operatic experience that matches it is when "The Flying Dutchman" is given without intermission.
Posted 11 October 2002 - 04:37 PM
Posted 13 October 2002 - 11:40 PM
Posted 14 October 2002 - 04:24 AM
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