Franz Welser-Möst Conducts Cleveland Orchestra's SALOME at Carnegie & Severance Halls, Now thru 5/26

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Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra and an international cast in concert performances of Richard Strauss's SALOME at Severance Hall tonight, May 19, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 26, at 8 p.m.

The opera will also be presented at New York's Carnegie Hall, on Thursday, May 24, at 8 p.m. These will be the first Cleveland Orchestra performances of SALOME. Principal cast members are soprano Nine Stemme as SALOME, tenor Rudolf Schasching as Herod, mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel as Herodias, bass-baritone Eric Owens as Jochanaan, and tenor Garrett Sorenson as Narraboth. Ms. Stemme and Mr. Schasching make their Cleveland Orchestra debut with these performances. The opera will be performed in German, with projectEd English supertitles for the Severance Hall performances.

In SALOME, Richard Strauss set a scandalous libretto to some of the most incendiary and ingenious music ever written for an opera – one of music history's most revolutionary works. The German libretto was created by Strauss, based on the German translation by Hedwig Lachmann of the play by Oscar Wilde.

Soprano Nina Stemme, who has just been awarded the honorary title of Kammersängerin for her significant artistic contributions to Austria, has been acclaimed for her performances as Salome and in numerous other roles. Opera Magazine noted that she "projected her first SALOME with sumptuous power and radiance that few if any have achieved since Hildegard Behrens in her prime." Seen and Heard International commented that, "The presence of Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Salome was a real event for aficionados…. Her vocal performance was as brilliant and overwhelming as might be expected from such a great singer…. Powerful, homogenous, brilliant, wonderfully expressive, courageous and living the character completely, Nina Stemme was no less than a match for the best Salomes in the history of opera…. She is a Salome to be remembered for many years."

In February 2010, the Associated Press wrote of Ms. Stemme's Metropolitan Opera appearance in the title role of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos that she "sang a radiant performance" that "showed off both glimmering high notes and a powerful, honey-filled lower register…." Other recent highlights of Nina Stemme's career have been her role debuts as Arabella in Gothenburg and Ariadne at Geneva Opera, the roles of Sieglinde and Brünnhilde in Siegfried in the new "Ring" Cycle at the Vienna State Opera, and her role debut of SALOME at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. She has also appeared in a concert version of Fidelio with Claudio Abbado at the Lucerne Festival (recorded on CD) and in the role of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre for the opening of the season at La Scala in Milan. In 2011, Ms. Stemme appeared as Brünnhilde in the San Francisco Opera's "Ring" Cycle and, for her Paris Opera debut, as Elisabeth in Tannhaüser at Opéra Bastille. This season, she performed the role of Tosca at the Vienna State Opera under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst.

Bass-baritone Eric Owens, whom the New York Times recently described as an "expressive, rich-voiced singer," has been acclaimed for his performances in the role of Alberich in Wagner's "Ring" Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera. The New Yorker said, "The chief glory of this production is Eric Owens's performance." In a review of Mr. Owens's Zankel Hall recital in February 2012, the New York Times commented that he "quickly established his ability to wrap his deep voice around a text and create a distinct sense of character."

Mr. Owens's Zankel Hall recital with pianist Robert Spano this season was the centerpiece of a coast-to-coast recital tour. He returned to Carnegie Hall this spring with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and appears at Carnegie Hall again next month in Salome with The Cleveland Orchestra. At the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Owens returns as the vengeful Alberich for the final installments of Robert Lepage's new "Ring" Cycle in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, both of which will be broadcast live in high definition to cinemas around the world. He also joins Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra for Verdi's Requiem, and reprises his role as The Storyteller in A Flowering Tree with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During the summer, Mr. Owens will serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Glimmerglass Festival, where he appears in Aïda, Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars, and in a solo evening of cabaret and popular song.

Beginning one hour prior to the May 19 performance of SALOME, a Concert Preview titled "Strauss's Salome: Sight, Sound, and Sensuality" will be given in Reinberger Chamber Hall by Walter Frisch, professor of music at Columbia University. This Preview will be filmed by Cuyahoga County Public Library and shown on a large screen in Reinberger Chamber Hall beginning one hour prior to the May 26 performance of SALOME. This series is funded by a generous endowment gift from Dorothy Humel Hovorka.

Professor Frisch will also give a pre-concert talk beginning one hour prior to The Cleveland Orchestra's performance of Salome at Carnegie Hall on May 24, in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.