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An arresting Salome at the Royal Opera

It has been over 10 years since the Royal Opera staged Salome (the last time I saw it in 1997, it was Bryn Terfel as John the Baptist and Catherine Malfitano singing the title role). One forgets how hard it is to stage this work - no overture, run time of just over 90 minutes, with not a lot of action on stage except the dance.

I needn't to have worried - this new production by David McVicar , design by Es Devlin and conducted by Phillippe Jordan was arresting from start to finish. The two-level stage with a posh upstairs and a lavatorial downstairs gave much visual interest. The cast had lots of exciting new blood who gave a fantastic performance: Michael Volle sang John the Baptist and Nadja Michael sang the title role viscerally, with Duncan Meadows as the naked adonis-executioner. David McVicar's production let the inter-character dynamic and underlying psychological tension unfold along with the music. Phillippe Jordan kept the pace and excitement going through out in the jam-packed pit (Strauss wrote Salome for a Wagnerian-size orchestra).  Of course, Strauss's lush orchestration and exotice textures did the rest of the work!


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