09 October 2008


Strauss SALOME, Met 07.X.2008; c. Summers; Mattila, Uusitalo, Begley, Komlosi, Kaiser, Glassman, Schaufer.

A quick one: went back in to see Karita Mattila's Salome two evenings ago; wouldn't have been surprised if there was some sloping off of effort and energy after Saturday's big global simulcast, but no:* Mattila was crisper and in command compared to her prima performance, searing from first to last bar. The mercurial Mattila sound, grey and turbid in the middle but glistening as a penetrating liquid when pushed above the staff, is truly thrilling in this music. Indeed, this role, in my opinion, is the best match for her soprano: ecstatic, neurotic, lush, athletic, destructive. The forte top notes are becoming more challenging to her, but isn't it always an enjoyable thing to observe a singer battle the elements, who cares about the resulting carnage? She probably tears vital tissue during each Salome performance; it hurts me to receive all that sound; but lots and lots of pleasure all around; a classic S&M experience. Seriously, this is among the greatest miracles to happen at the Met in this generation. There is a reason why Deborah Voigt, as powerful as she is, will never, ever sing this role in her own home stage. I doubt there's anyone foolish enough to follow this immortal performance anytime soon; opera queens will be there to pillory the sorry pretenders.

*Duh. It's this weekend. Hasn't happened yet, folks.