Sunday, October 01, 2006

Salome in Paris a second time around

Today's matinee at the Bastille confirmed my suspicion on opening night: the company could have used another rehearsal before the premiere. The performance today, the run's fourth, was solid. Catherine Naglestad flourished in her portrayal and her shimmering voice soared.

More later--pictures too!

UPDATE (8:57pm):

Here is a photo of Catherine Naglestad's first curtain call. You can see Iokanaan's head on the silver platter, a couple of the veils, and a vase from which Salome drank wine as she battled with Herod for her reward.

More later. (And I haven't forgotten to elaborate on that Mozart concert.)

UPDATE (10/3/06, 2:21am):

I'm looking at the notes I scribbled during Sunday's performance.

Naglestad succeeded brilliantly in portraying Wilde's teenaged princess. She clearly and effectly sketched her take (the director's take?) on Salome's motivation. When she hears Iokanaan's voice, she's horrified and aroused at the same time. She says to Narraboth, with glee and fascination--and with a huge smile--that Iokanaan says horrible things about her mother. Naglestad's girlish grin is remarkable.

One memorable line is her lovely delivery of "the son of man", where she repeats Iokanaan's phrase, in the same melody. Iokanaan tells her there is only one who can save her, the son of man. She sings, "the son of man," transfixed by Iokanaan, and one might think that she's seriously interested in what he has to say. But, softly and innocently, she then asks, "Is he as beautiful as you, Iokanaan?" No, no one can save her . . .

In this production, Iokanaan is tempted by Salome--there's a strange dance between the two following his cursing of her. He moves to touch her, and then resists. This choreography reinforces Salome's motivation in this production: she's a woman scorned.

Taking up this point, just before Salome dances, she looks towards the cistern (in this production, a large cage that slowly glides in from stage right; see my opening night post for a production photo) and points. After the dance, as she's naked, Naglestad grins mischievously at Iokanaan, who is on stage (his cage slides in at some point during the dance and remains there until some point during the Salome-Herod power struggle). Her expression seems to say, "I'm gonna getcha!"

Naglestad gave a ferocious performance, as the copious sweat on her face would attest. She's a major star here--I've gotten a large number of hits to this blog from European (mostly German) visitors Google-searching her name and "salome" and/or "paris"--and it's not hard to see why.

Chris Merritt was really an outstanding Herod. There was so much to like about his performance: his strong voice, his wonderfully amusing antics (one of the funniest: after Salome sings, "I would like, on a silver platter . . .", he picks up and plays with one of her veils, laughing and covering his head with it--when she sings "the head . . .", he removes the veil and looks surprised, then horrified when she sings "of Iokanaan"). Jane Henschel also an effective Herodias, rather understated and elegant. We pity her when she watches in horror as Salome kisses the head--Henschel backed away slowly and disappeared into the palace, her eyes never wavering.

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