Terrifying and gripping, much like Salome herself, this rendition of Strauss’ controversial opera is presented perfectly to the 21st century audience.
With a no intermission run through time of 1hour 45 minutes I was worried that sitting out this stretch of opera would be tasking but it turned out to be quite the opposite! Not only was the music beautifully enthralling, with the orchestra led by Sir Richard Armstrong, but the actors were enchanting. An unusual stage set up placed the action of the opera in front of the orchestra and thrust Salome straight on to the audience without the familiar shield of the curtain. This approach worked well as a metaphor for the story where Salome pushes her feelings however unwanted on to the imprisoned Jokanaan. The action taking place at the forefront of the stage meant that the actors had nowhere to hide and they were under constant scrutiny allowing them their chance to shine. Each character was wonderfully portrayed and Jennifer Holloway presented a version of Salome that was unashamedly charming with a performance that was perfect in her soprano.
There was no lack of atmosphere created in this opera with the action upfront on a stark stage and clever lighting stealing a spot in this show. If you weren’t quick enough to read the English supertitles you would have had no problem following the narrative of this German sung opera with the lights providing a clear direction of the story. Harsh and deliberate colours allowed the audience to experience an extra height of drama, from the half stage golden aura of Salome falling into infatuation with Jokanaan to the reverberating red lights of death.
In a show with no props, no curtain and only a slither of stage each element of orchestra, voice, acting and lighting came together to create a magnificent feast for the senses and shoved the audience, willing or not, into the action of Salome and her twisted mind. This brow raising opera is still presented in such a provocative way that would make Strauss proud.
Why don’t you pop along and enjoy something new at the Perth Concert Hall? You never know what amazing performances you will find!
Review by Megane Kilpatrick