Heidi Melton at Lieder Alive!
Gabriela Pochinki Tattling

Salome at SF Opera

Nadja Michael, photo by Terrence McCarthy* Notes * 
San Francisco Opera's Salome had a second performance last night, after opening last Sunday. Maestro Luisotti was more restrained in this than in Il Trovatore or the Brahms he conducted across the street. The orchestra never overwhelmed the singing, but still had a florid quality.

The sleek production, designed by Bruno Schwengl, is elegant and has gorgeous lighting. Oddly, the costumes were attractive for everyone but Salome, Herodes, and Herodias. Salome's first costume was a flowing evening gown whose cut emphasized the length of Nadja Michael's torso, a contrast to the typical coltish look of an adolescent girl. This dress did move splendidly, unlike the third costume, a heavy gold-toned velvet sack. Herodes and Herodias looked fond of sequins. Director Seán Curran's choreography was straightforwardly modern, though the Dance of the Seven Veils was not entirely convincing, the ridiculous bat-like movements Salome made with her arms draped in a black veil was laughable. Michael was entirely committed to both the acting and dancing, and she was terrifying. Her singing almost didn't matter. She could sound scarily sweet or shriek like a banshee, bringing to mind Diamanda Galás.

The rest of the cast was almost uniformly great. Garrett Sorenson sounded appropriately plaintive as Narraboth. Greer Grimsley was imposing as Jochanaan, especially when singing off-stage. His disdain came through brilliantly. Kim Begley was a slimy Herodes, yet his voice was bright and had a certain appeal. Irina Mishura (Herodias) was also impressive, sounding imperious and rich.

* Tattling * 
The audience was engaged with the performance, very little talking was observed. There were watch alarms at the hour, and someone's mobile phone rang right before Salome went on about touching Jochanaan's hair.