through February 2, 2020
Oscar Wilde had written a play about John the Baptist and how he lost his head. It may not have been a best seller; but German composer Richard Strauss could see it as an opera and put together Salome, a one act opera that premiered in 1905. It, too, stirred up a lot of adverse reaction and was even banned in England and closed at The Met after one performance.
It is set in Galilee around 30 A.D. where Jochanaan (Nathan Berg) is imprisoned in a cistern by King Herod (Frank van Aken). Herod’s wife, Herodias (Jennifer Larmore), has a daughter named Salome (Jennifer Holloway) who is not of Herod’s blood. In fact Herodias killed her first husband so that she could legally marry Herod. And it is a tale of lust as Salome has the hots for Jochanaan, who we would come to know as John the Baptist. But he’s not acceptable to her family. And step-daddy Herod has eyes for young Salome.
This newly styled production is directed by Tomer Zvulun with the full orchestra in the pit under the baton of Arthur Fagan. It is a long one act, but that is how it was crafted and is played. The cast of local soldiers, Jewish townies, and servants show up as a mix of how they may have looked centuries ago, and how some may look today.
While I do not want to give away the whole story, if you don’t know it, let’s just say that life is what happens while you wait for your plans to work out. The score is not one where you would recall a grand aria nor leave the theatre humming a tune. The Dance of the 7 Veils is probably the only melody that would ring your bell. And while the costumes for the dancers leave little to the imagination, they are fully clad.
The opera will be staged January 28 and 31st and close on February 2. More info available at AtlantaOpera.org