Strauss' 'Salome' Featuring Patricia Racette in Title Role

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gerhard Siegel as Herod and Patricia Racette as Salome Gerhard Siegel as Herod and Patricia Racette as Salome (Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

Tune in at 1 pm Saturday for the radio broadcast of Richard Strauss's Salome.

The fact that Salome is now considered a part of the standard operatic repertoire is particularly interesting, given the scandal and backlash it provoked after its 1905 premier. The opera, based on a German translation of a French play by Oscar Wilde, recounts the biblical story of Salome. Salome, the daughter of King Herod, lusts after the king’s prisoner Jochannan (John the Baptist). Jochannan rebuffs her advances, but soon Salome spies another opportunity — her father demands she dance at a banquet, in exchange for anything she wants.

That dance, “The Dance of the Seven Veils,” was the source of a specific outrage. Although Strauss intended it to be modest, producers embraced much more erotic overtones. Some singers refused to do the dance, requesting a body double be used instead.

Salome’s union of the holy with the profane caused Strauss's one-act opera to be banned in a number of cities including London, Vienna and New York.

Patricia Racette will be taking on the role of the title character. This is her first turn as Salome at the Met Opera. Interestingly enough, she stepped in after the previous actress fell ill, and has provided a riveting performance that has received critical praise.

Saturday’s production is helmed by director Jurgen Flimm, whose previous credits include directions at La Scala, Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House.

Salome is the subject of our lasest episode of the He Sang, She Sang podcast, which you can listen to here.


Patricia Racette: Salome

Nancy Fabiola Herrera: Herodias

Gerhard Siegel: Herod

Kang Wang: Narraboth

Željko Lučić: Jocahannan

Johannes Debus, conductor

Comments [5]

CastaDiva from New York, NY

Of the principals, Herod and Jokanaan were wonderful. Didn't care for Salome---the wobble in the voice persisted all evening. The other characters all sang admirably. I quite liked the sets, but the costumes were strange.

Dec. 17 2016 07:32 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

For me, those who was most consistently in character as well as in prime vocal estate were Gerhard Siegel as Herod and Z^eljko Lu^cic' as Jochanaan. I enjoyed Nancy Fabiola Herrera's Herodias, but the role is very short. Narraboth's role is shorter in that he kills himself for want of a love that just can't and won't ever happen. I hold Patricia Racette in very high esteem for adding this killer role to her already varied repertory, but the persistent beat and wideness of the vibrato especially above the staff distracted me from Salome`'s obsessive determination as well as causing her to veer slightly off pitch at times, or so it seemed to me. I ignored the updating completely and imagined the set and costumes appropriate to those of Biblical times when there was indeed ... to say the least ... great divergencies of opinion about whether the Messiah has come or will yet come. Strauss's masterly fugal handling of the Five Jews'argument has always awed me, as, truth to tell, has everything in this work. The loud orchestral tuttis, such as the instrumental that begins Scene 3, carried the horror of the drama forward convincingly, but, my personal taste is such that I felt the six horns were too soft throughout even in passages marked "fortissimo", though I was listening with components at full room volume. There was great clarity and detail in the "Dance of the Seven Veils", I thought. The quiet passage with the divided contrabasses plucking high B flats over a low E flat tremolo and bass drum roll was a model of clarity as well as providing one of those moments in opera when time seems to stand still. "Salome`" seems like one continous horror that seems to climax in that dissonant chord resolving to C sharp major five bars before Herod commands "Kill that woman"! I'm glad I heard this performance: as with everything else, I learn a little bit more and love the work at hand a lot more. What a variety of color and emotion there is from first to last in the quadruple reeds, 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones and tuba with a massive percussion section including castenettes, xylophone, celesta, organ, harmonium (were both employed?), two harps and strings. All deserve applause who perform and master this opera.

Dec. 17 2016 03:37 PM
FredKeller from Sao Paulo

poor singing all afternoon

Dec. 17 2016 03:19 PM
Paul from Brooklyn, NY

Excellent performance. But I enjoyed my own staging and sets in my head.

Dec. 17 2016 02:56 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

The music of Salome is great but I would never go again to see such repugnant story.

Dec. 17 2016 02:27 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.