Thursday, October 15, 2009

SFO: Salome Dress

Lined up for salome dress
San Francisco Opera
Dress Rehearsal
15 Oct 2009 3pm

Salome: Nadja Michael
Herodias: Irina Mishura
Herod: Kim Begley
Jokanaan: Greer Grimsley
Narraboth: Garrett Sorenson
A page: Elizabeth DeShong
First Jew: Beau Gibson
Second Jew: Robert MacNeil
Third Jew: Matthew O’Neill
Fourth Jew: Corey Bix
Fifth Jew: Jeremy Milner
First Soldier: Andrew Funk
Second Soldier: Bojan Knezevic
First Nazarene: Julien Robbins
Second Nazarene: Austin Kness
Cappodocian: Kenneth Kellogg
Slave: Renée Tatum

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Seán Curran

This afternoon I attended a dress rehearsal of SF Opera's Salome, which opens this Sunday afternoon. The set is an abstract, box-like interior. Most of the action takes place on a bright white circle, probably representing the moon. In the back wall is a bank vault door representing the cistern imprisoning Jokanaan. The cast is in modern dress. The soldiers wear sleeveless hoodies. Salome wears a breezy Marilyn Monroe dress.

Even though this was a dress rehearsal, Nadja Michael tackled this triathlon of a role by singing, acting & dancing with complete involvement. I found her acting to be the most compelling aspect of her performance. Her Salome has happily given herself up to an obsession she never questions. Ms. Michael made a consistently strong sound, though I sometimes wondered what pitches she was singing. She did a creditable job dancing, proving herself quite flexible. The choreography eventually presents her nude while simultaneously protecting her modesty. It was clear that Greer Grimsley possesses a huge, weighty voice from the moment we heard him off-stage. Hair in dreadlocks & exposing a broad shirtless chest, he is a virile Jokanaan. I also liked Garrett Sorenson's dark-voiced Narraboth. But really there were no weak links in the cast.

Nicola Luisotti's conducting was unfussy & did not stress orchestral detail or precision. The orchestra's presence was instead cushioned & impressionistic. The opening clarinet run sounded almost casual. Maestro Luisotti reseated the woodwinds to the left, behind the violins. The horns were also on the left, behind the woodwinds. The cellos & double basses were on the right, in front of the rest of the brasses. This may have created a softer, more diffuse brass sound.

This dress rehearsal audience was quite eager & cheered especially Ms. Michael & Mr. Grimsley. The woman behind me seemed to be snacking during the whole performance, as I kept hearing her rustle a plastic bag. I am pretty sure I heard her ask her companion, "Would you like one?" during the climactic Dance of the 7 Veils, as if this bit with the loud music was a bore.

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