With German libretto by the composer and Hedwig Lachmann (translated from Oscar Wilde's play) this 1905 retelling of the biblical tale is a well-established and frequently-performed part of the operatic repertoire. The one-act piece is perhaps most famous for its "Dance of the Seven Veils."
Staged by J‹rgen Flimm, this Salome stars Finnish soprano Karita Mattila as the voluptuous Judean princess. Mattila became a sensation when she performed the role for the first time at the Met in 2004, earning equal praise for her voice, sensual personification and her execution (no pun intended) of the famous dance.
"It's hard to imagine how anyone could quibble with any aspect of Karita Mattila's performance in the title role of Strauss's Salome," wrote The New York Times in 2004. "Given the physical and emotional toll of her portrayal, that she could also sing this daunting role with such gleaming power, eerie expressivity and, most remarkably of all, beguiling lyricism was stunning."
She is receiving similarly glowing reviews this time around. Clive Barnes of The New York Post described her performance as "stunningly sensuous. Her singing and characterization curve together like the branches of a vine - her seductive, always suave tones setting up Salome's childlike, random viciousness." The legendary critic declared her the "Salome for this day and age."
Click here to read a recent Q&A in which Mattila discusses the role
Joining her is fellow Finland native Juha Uusitalo, making his Met debut, as Jochanaan (aka John the Baptist). A member of the Finnish National Opera, he was widely praised for his 2006 portrayal of Scarpia opposite Mattila's first-ever Tosca.
British tenor Kim Begley sings Herod. He has previously graced the Met stage as Count Pierre Bezukhov in Prokofiev's War and Peace last season and as Samuel Griffiths in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. Herodias is sung by Hungarian mezzo-soprano Ildik‹ Koml‹si who made her Met debut as Charlotte in Massenet's Werther.
Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser sings Narraboth. A Met National Councils finalist in 2005, his Met credits include Gounod's Rom_o et Juliette and Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberfl‹te.
Patrick Summers conducts, having stepped in for an ill Mikko Franck. Santo Loquasto designed the sets and costumes, with lighting by James F. Ingalls and choreography by Doug Varone.
There are two remaining performances of Salome this season: Oct. 11 at 1 PM and Oct. 16 at 8 PM.
The matinee performance this Saturday will be transmitted to nearly 30 countries around the world as part of the wildly-successful Met: Live in HD series.
The Metropolitan Opera's 2008-09 season pays tribute to the company's extraordinary history on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, while also emphasizing the Met's renewed commitment to advancing the art form. The upcoming season features six new productions, 18 revivals, and two gala celebrations.
New productions include the company premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic as well as the Met's first staged production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, and Massenet's ThaÇs, Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's Il Trovatore, and Bellini's La Sonnambula.
For further information, visit www.metopera.org.
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All photos by Marty Sohl for the Metropolitan Opera.