Composer: Richard Strauss
Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, cond. Stefan Soltesz
Production by Peter Konwitschny
Herodes – Gabriel Sadé
Herodias – Doris Soffel
Salome – Annalena Persson
Jochanaan – Albert Dohmen
Narraboth – Marcel Reijans
Page – Barbara Kozeij
Juden – Alasdair Elliott, Marcell Beekman, Jean-Léon Klostermann, Pascal Pittie, Andrew Greenan
Nazarener – André Morsch, Julian Tovey
Soldaten – Alexander Egorov, Patrick Schramm
Ein Cappadocier - Jacques Does
I kind of expected something strange from this production, seeing DNO had already sent out a letter of warning – which is never a good omen. Nevertheless, I didn’t expect the piece of trash I saw on the 13th.
Set in some sort of bunker, Salome sports an entirely disgusting 80s hairdo and has sex with everyone. Her father, Herodes, shoots up on heroine and also has sex with everyone. Her mother, Herodias – surprise, surprise – also has lots of sex. John the Baptist (Jochanaan) is locked up in the bunker with them, and sports a nice shopping bag over his head, and also has lots of sex. When Salome wants to get it on with Jochanaan, Narraboth is so disgusted with her that he’s supposed to commit suicide, but in Konwitschny’s production, Herodes draws a gun, shoots him, drops his pants, and takes the lead in a necrophile gangbang. Meanwhile, Herodias is having sex with Jochanaan while Salome is playing around with Herodes’ needles. Confusing much? There was no focus to it all, and all the sex was very tiresome. I spent a large part of the opera yawning and fighting Morpheus’ attacks on my consciousness. Maybe that’s one of the problems of my generation – we’ve seen so much on television, the internet, you name it, that people on stage shooting up on heroine and constantly having (mostly anal) sex has lost its shock value.
Salome’s dance of the seven veils wasn’t really a dance. She just ran a couple of laps on stage carrying a tablecloth, and then started kicking the wall and drawing a door on it. Kind of strange on Herodes’ part to be so impressed by that as to grant Salome Jochanaan’s head. Jochanaan is ‘killed’ (or rather, not killed) by Herodias f***ing him to death, after which Jochanaan’s head is handed over to Salomé. She sings to the head and Jochanaan (apparently having survived Herodias’ attacks on his genitals) approaches her and they hug, kiss and fiddle around as the head prop is lifted into the air. At the end of it all, Salome and Jochanaan walk off stage a happy couple. Herodes’ last line was given to an actor sitting in the audience, who screamed “kill this woman”. There were two enthusiastic people in the audience screaming their bravos, countered by about twenty angry people exploding into a fair amount of boos. The rest of the audience (me included), just looked completely bored and clapped modestly for the singers and the orchestra, who were actually quite good (Gabriel Sadé excluded).
This was the single most crappy evening I have ever spent at the opera. Let’s just leave it at that.
Next up in December: Guillaume Tell in concert (Concertgebouw: with Poplavskaya, Giordani and Pertusi) and La Fanciulla del West (DNO: Eva Maria Westbroek and Lucio Gallo)
Herodias wants to do Jochanaan and Herodes (naked torso and all) wants to do Herodias