A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Friday, December 28, 2012

Multiculturalism

Tonight I watched an American opera company's production of a German opera based on a play written in French by an Irishman who then translated it into English. It was Richard Strauss's Salome, of course, a production of the San Francisco Opera that I recorded several months ago and just now got around to watching. The title role was played by Nadja Michael, a German soprano who's a better actress and dancer than singer -- she stirred up some real intensity playing around with Jokanaan (Greer Grimsley) both alive and decapitated. It was certainly a more, uh, vivid performance than the only live Salome I've seen, a Dallas Opera performance with Roberta Knie, a rather large young woman but a much better singer than Michael. It must have been in the mid-1970s, because Knie made her American debut in Tristan and Isolde in Dallas in 1975; the Tristan was Jon Vickers.

Here's the final scene from the 1974 film of the opera with Teresa Stratas as Salome, Hans Beirer as Herod, and the great Astrid Varnay as Herodias. The conductor is Karl Böhm.