Among the best
Thomas F. Dillingham | Columbia, Missouri USA | 10/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This performance has so many strengths that it seems almost churlish to complain. The production design is totally effective, with none of the missteps that undercut the effect of the new production at the Met in New York. The 20th century costumes and set decoration update without distraction, and the "downstairs" atmosphere of the main playing space--as though in a kitchen/slaughterhouse--is stark and dramatic. The choice of having the executioner on stage, holding his sword, during the whole performance adds a sense of menace without forcing a symbolic element (like the winged angels of death in the Met production), and his descent into the cistern stark naked and his return with his body covered in blood certainly make powerful stage imagery.
The performers are almost uniformly superior. Narraboth looks his part and sings it well; Herod is especially effective in conveying the psychological weakness of the character. Herodias is, perhaps, a bit too much the ordinary matron, avoiding the caricatured portrayal of, for example, Astrid Varnay. Crucially, Jokanaan has a powerful voice and a powerful, if somewhat older than described, visual presence. The direction of the interactions between him and Salome is particularly effective and harrowing.
The weak link is Nadja Michael's Salome. She acts the role interestingly, and I think her characterization is defensible and effective, but her voice--rather light and high pitched as compared with other great performers in this role--is a problem. She has a noticeable wobble that she may be deploying to intensify the emotional effect of Salome's big moments, but unfortunately, it often just sounds like a wobble. Worse, she often fails to hit the notes, especially the crucial high notes that a Nilsson or Mattila punch into the stratosphere. Michael comes in under the pitch and sounds as though she is avoiding the really tough notes. I don't say her performance is bad, but for anyone who knows great performances of the role, hers sounds undersung.
Finally, Philippe Jordan's conducting is extraordinary--subtle, carefully thought out to provide insights into the interplay of orchestra and voices--he uses the orchestra to carry the drama but does not overwhelm the singers.
On the whole,I am very happy to have this video, and I know I will look at it again and again, but the Stratas performance remains, for me, the most powerful available on DVD."
A dark disturbing vision
Valmont | Sydney Australia | 09/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is probably the best quality Salome on the market. The production will not be to everyone's tastes, but if you like clever, intellectual productions, this will be for you.(I don't mean German Regie nonsense by the way!)Dark, provocative, sexy and very bloody, but amazing and thought-provoking. An amazing visceral experience..."
Just tell yourself it's all really catsup.
DesignerMan | Portland, OR United States | 01/16/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Having bought this Salome DVD because of early reviews, I was disappointed at several aspects. Spoiled by Nilsson, I found the soprano of Nadja Michael to be so underpowered, I kept thinking, "I'll bet she really lets loose towards the end." Quite the opposite. She runs out of steam, goes wildly off pitch, but does compensate with good acting skills. The best voice there is Michael Volle's Jochanaan. Contrary to the review in Opera News [Feb. '09] the set appears to be a 3rd world insane asylum, in the best regie-theatre fashion, fitting for a dance that would make Freud happy, and some lap dances jealous. Indeed, the best part of the whole show is the orchestra - absolutely magnificent conducting and playing throughout - thankfully drowning out some incursions by the vocal rabble. The fleetingly brief shots of the naked executioner, hunky as he is, are not worth the price of admission. Now to the blood: That damn head keeps on draining for the remainder of the opera, covering everyone nearby in gore. Possibly the director wanted it to be difficult to watch, as well as listen to. If you want a great video of this opera, just get the Böhm [DG] with Teresa Stratas."
Chilean Opera lover | Santiago, Chile | 06/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a really powerful Salome mostly becasue of the orchestra and stage design. Soprano Michaels, sometimes off pitch, performs a better Salome as an actress than as a singer. Volle performs a wonderful Jochanaan and the rest of the cast is ok. Stage design is really powerful but a dissapointing regie, specially at the seven veils' dance. The orchetra directed by Phillippe Jordan makes this Salome almost a masterpiece after Solti's Salome (with Nilsson, for me the perfect Salomé.)
I have two other Salome sung by Malfitano but this ie better than both of them. The sound is wonderful. Hope to have soon Mattilas's Salome in DVD at the Met(only available at youtube and sems to be strong and wonderful vocally)"