Thank goodness opening night is over!

Last night was the opening night of “Salome” here in Geneva, Switzerland. Can anyone tell me what these five carcasses have to do with the opera? I was in rehearsal for nearly 6 weeks and I still haven’t figured it out. Since there are 5 slabs of pork here, I thought perhaps they were to represent “The 5 Jews” who sing in the opera. Perhaps it is just another attempt to show the denigration of humans? Whatever the meaning, we are seeing this kind of stage decor and direction far too often in musical theater/opera. What’s really funny is that this hanging carcass thing is becoming a cliché. I did a production of “Elektra” in San Francisco in 1997 that had a huge carcass of a bull. Sometimes, one gets really hungry for a barbecue when on stage--but really, what does all this nonsense have to do with the story of “Salome”.

I am certainly not an opera purist by any stretch of the imagination. However, I do think some of the stage ideas need to be thought out more consistently. The staging of Salome’s dance in this production is truly a low light in my opera career--I’m glad I’m not a part of that scene. We have a soprano who could truly give us a spectacular dance but unfortunately she’s not allowed to do so in this production. It’s sad and unfulfilling in many ways.

The performance last night went about as well as it could go under the circumstances. As suspected, the response from the audience was tepid. Sometimes, I just don’t think audiences can believe what their eyes and ears have just witnessed. This is hard for singers who have poured so much into the evening--but certainly understandable.

There will be 5 more performances of the opera in this run. I’m not sure much can be done to salvage Strauss’ opera during these weeks. We’ll give it our best shot.