Getting to know Salome. “Salome” by Richard Strauss, Deutsche Oper Berlin, April 2nd, 2016

For those who are relatively new to Richard Strauss operas, like me, it could be one of the surprises, that one of the most famous operas created by him is also one of the shortest – as it lasts only an hour and 45 minutes without intermission. The upside of it is that your operatic experience becomes uninterrupted and focus stays with the performance from beginning to the end while a downside is that last 10 minutes are becoming a bit problematic to sustain rigid posture in a narrow seat.

Salome was my second opera on all-Strauss-opera-weekend, and lived up to the high expectations. The production by Claus Guth as always is highly conceptual, and probably I would need another take to read embedded messaging clearly, while directing, especially movement of performers as puppets or zombies (choreographer Sommer Ulrickson) posed a lot of doubt if this was entirely justified and benefited the performance. Another disturbing moment was the rise (appearance) of Jochanaan (Michael Volle) from the pile of trashed clothing seemingly naked, and then helped to get some on by help of little girls. He certainly is in reasonable physical form, nevertheless, the aesthetics of the scene were questionable. Overall directorial approach to domesticate the conflict and add Freudian touch was appropriate and very contemporary. I liked the concept of various age girls, depicting Salome in childhood and complementing the story with “flashbacks” to the cause of the tragedy.

Salome2

Salome © 2016, Monika Rittershaus

As the opera was shortest one of the three, also this review will be relatively concise – first as my camera let me down and did not take any usable shots due to distance from the stage and changed settings, and also because there are not much to be told since Allison Oakes as Salome did outstanding performance, Michael Volle proved again that he is one of the top performers in tenor range, and Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet as Herodias demonstrated her superb acting skills without overplaying it even for a bit, and Thomas Blondelle created vocally and dramatically convincing portrayal of Herodes. The vocal performance was of the highest quality and overall acting exceeded expectations.

Sets and costumes, as you can see in the production photo below, done by Muriel Gerstner told the intended story with confidence, providing eye-opening through the set visuals to the core of the conflict. The first part of the performance was intentionally dark and focused a lot on the activities with mannequins and puppets, while second part opened up wider world and transported audience into mesmerizing world of garment retail.

 

Salome1

Salome © 2016, Monika Rittershaus

 

Salome by Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

A music drama in one act
Music and libretto by Richard Strauss
after the play „Salomé“ by Oscar Wilde
Translation by Hedwig Lachmann
World premiere 9th December 1905 in Dresden
Premiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin: 24th January 2016

Cast

conductor Alain Altinoglu
Stage Director Claus Guth
Set Design, Costume Design Muriel Gerstner
Lighting Olaf Freese
Dramaturge Curt A. Roesler
Yvonne Gebauer
Choreographer Sommer Ulrickson

Herodes Thomas Blondelle
Herodias Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet
Salome Allison Oakes
Jochanaan Michael Volle
Narraboth Attilio Glaser
A bellboy Annika Schlicht
1st Jew James Kryshak
2nd Jew Gideon Poppe
3rd Jew Andrew Dickinson
4th Jew Clemens Bieber
5th Jew Andrew Harris
1st Nazarene Dong-Hwan Lee
2nd Nazarene Thomas Lehman
1st soldier Alexei Botnarciuc
2nd soldier Tobias Kehrer
A Cappadocier Michael Adams
A slave Gideon Poppe
Orchestra Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

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3 thoughts on “Getting to know Salome. “Salome” by Richard Strauss, Deutsche Oper Berlin, April 2nd, 2016

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