Patricia Racette’s assured performance in the title role is the main reason to catch the Met’s current revival of Richard Strauss’s 1905 opera Salome. It is a musically complex and demanding role, so it’s no small feat that Racette makes it look and sound easy. The role also covers a lot of vocal range, and Racette rumbled at the bottom and roared at the top, with no sign of strain at either end.
Based on Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play of the same name, Salome tells of the titular stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who requests the head of John the Baptist (here called “Jochanaan”) on a silver platter as a reward for granting Herod’s request that she perform “the dance of the seven veils.”
Racette performed choreographer Doug Varone’s Dance of the Seven Veils with great verve. The costuming and some of the steps at this point were reminiscent of Weimar Germany, and indeed Racette comported herself like Marlene Deitrich at her most vampy.
This production’s Jochanaan, baritone Željko Lučić, was truly robust in both acting and singing. Tenor Gerhard Siegel gave us a Herod of great vocal nimbleness and power. Mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera as Salome’s mother, Herodias, had a clarion voice and gleeful intensity that brought this smaller role out in higher relief than usual.
Conductor Johannes Debus packs his account of Strauss’s High Romantic score with incisive intelligence and gleaming passion. Recommended.
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To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.