This smashing "Salome" is one of the recently issued sets by Sony in the "Metropolitan Opera in HD Live" series which, judging by this DVD, will prove a gem of a treat. Filmed on the 11th of October 2008, R. Strauss's violent masterpiece has everything going for it, but the whole evening is undoubtedly dominated by the towering performance of Karita Mattila in the title role. Sexy, sensuous and savage, Mattila gives the interpretation of her life and by the end I was left totally drained and breathless. All this, apart from her singing, which is beautifully phrased and golden toned. Her only weakness is her "Dance of the Seven Veils", where one can amply discern that the classical dance is not Mattila's "forte". Juha Uusitalo, Kim Begley and Ildiko Komlosi as Jochanan, Herod and Herodias respectively present commanding performances, and the many "close-ups" reveal their acting skills to the full.
The rest of the supporting cast are also first-rate. Patrick Summers keeps the ongoing tension under constant control, and the Met Orchestra's sound is as beguiling as it is mesmerizing. Sets and costumes are a credit to Santo Loquasto's imagination; the former in particular, where the fusion of ancient and modern is achieved with simple yet highly realistic designs. Doug Varone's choreography has colour and movement, but a slightly more voluptuous touch could not have been amiss. Producer Jurgen Flimm has not given us just an exciting evening's show, but also a profound human experience full of disturbing undertones that stay with you long after Salome's lusty cravings have died down. Riveting, compelling, nerve tingling. Immaculate sound and picture complete a DVD which should be on everybody's shelf without further delay.
Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech.