I was just writing about perversity and the twentieth century, and here from the Metropolitan Opera comes Richard Strauss’ Salome, 1905, the defining moment for the arrival of perversity in twentieth century opera. A successful production should point up how perverse it all is, I suppose.
So is it more or less perverse when she sings, “Nothing is so white as your body,” “Nothing is so black as your hair,” and “Nothing is so red as your mouth,” and the object of all this passion, Juha Uusitalo, is fat, fully clothed and quite ugly? As she says, “The mystery of love is deeper than the mystery of death.”
Admit it, we love it. Would we go to Salome if we didn’t? I especially liked the shot of Karita Mattila after the curtain hugging a colleague and saying how much fun it was. If there is anything more fun than going to the opera, it is singing in opera. You can’t beat it. Mattila was spectacularly fascinating. The production provided her with lots of places to hold on to, climb on and lean on, as she played Salome very young, unselfconscious and childlike.
My only complaint was in the choice of shots we got to see in the theater. Barbara Sweete was the director, so I assume we may blame her. I like to see more of the stage. The no nudity decision was laughable. The production played Oscar Wilde's v ery perverse play to its most perverse in my experience--if it didn't have to be a close up, who would notice?
I was quite curious about the appearance of angels in this production. First there were imitations of Giotto's lovely angels on the curtain. Giotto and Salome don't make a connection for me. Then there were black angels with white wings on the upper stage left. It's difficult to see a connection.