Florida Grand Opera Presents SALOME in Miami and Fort Lauderdale Beginning 1/27
Very few works of art retain the power to shock and disturb that they showed on their opening night decades earlier. One of those is Richard Strauss's 1905 opera Salome. When it first appeared, this steamy brew of eroticism and religion so unnerved audiences that it was banned in Vienna and London. The opera's troubles didn't end there. In 1907, at New York's Metropolitan Opera, it was yanked from the company's repertoire just days after its premiere. At a semipublic dress rehearsal, the way in which the company's Salome, soprano Olive Fremstad, planted a passionate kiss on the severed head of John the Baptist, proved too disturbing for many of the timid Met patrons. The board revolted, demanding that General Manager Heinrich Conried bring Salome'srun to a halt. A statement was issued declaring that the work itself was "objectionable and detrimental to the best interests of the Metropolitan Opera House."
This initial response may only have fueled interest in Salome, since it became one of the most successful and popular of all twentieth-century operas, in spite of-or, more likely because of-its themes of religious fervor, sexual fury, and necrophilia. Now, for the first time since 2003, Florida Grand Opera brings Strauss's sizzling masterpiece to its audiences in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, starring a high-voltage cast charged with bringing this work to thrilling life.
Salome is justifiably famous for many things: its electrifying and beautiful modernist score, a chilling Biblical story, adapted by Oscar Wilde, which speeds to its terrifying conclusion with inexorable power, introducing us along the way to a collection of depraved, larger-than-life characters who hasten their own doom. There is also the opera's famous, show-stopping set-piece: after being continually harassed by her lecherous stepfather, Herod, Salome finally agrees to perform her erotic Dance of the Seven Veils, in exchange for anything she desires. What she desires turns out to be something horrific. And, like Lucy Ashton in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which opened the current FGO season, Salome finds a sort of liberation in a heinous act that ultimately leads to her death. The climax of Salome remains one of the most spine-chilling finales in all of opera.
"No one here has the slightest interest in producing an ineffectualSalome," says Susan T. Danis, FGO's General Director and CEO. "We set out to assemble a production team and cast capable of bringing out every ounce of passion and horror in this timeless classic. Salomeunfolds in a single 100-minute act, but it packs more into a short running time than practically any other opera I can think of."
For the demanding title role, which requires a singer of great stamina, charisma, and power, Florida Grand Opera has split star duties between two remarkable sopranos.
Moore opens the run on January 27. Having distinguished herself in some of the gutsiest roles in the soprano repertoire, including Katá Kabanová (Seattle Opera), Lady Macbeth (Glimmerglass Opera Festival),Tosca (San Francisco Opera), Julie in Showboat, andMaria in The Passenger (both at Houston Grand Opera), she takes on Salome for the first time in her career at FGO.
The role of Salome in the performances is played by Kirsten Chambers, who also has an enviable reputation for her fearlessness onstage. At Carnegie Hall in 2016, she learned the demanding role of Maria in Strauss's Friedenstag on two days' notice and sang it to great acclaim. Chambers has sung Salome twice before, at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2014 and at the Metropolitan Opera in 2016, when she filled in at the eleventh hour for an ailing Patricia Racette. Both performances were great successes for Chambers.
Additional Salome cast members include some of the most powerful singing actors working on the opera stage today. Bass Mark Delavanis featured as the zealous reformer Jochanaan, who steadfastly resists Salome's lurid advances. Delavan has developed a blazing reputation at many major companies, including San Francisco Opera, where he has sung Wotan in Wagner's Ring Cycle, and New York City Opera, where he triumphed in Verdi's Macbeth, and the Met, where his roles include Amonasro in Aida,Don Carlo in La forza del destino, Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana, Gérard in Andrea Chénier.
The key role of Salome's lecherous stepfather, Herod, will be sung by tenor John Easterlin. A fourth-generation Miami native who has carved out an impressive career as an electrifying character tenor, Easterlin's vast repertoire encompasses Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,The Gambler, Die Fledermaus, Anna Nicole, Die Fledermaus,Wozzeck, and the world premiere, at Madrid's Teatro Real, of Philip Glass's The Perfect American, in which Easterlin created the role of Andy Warhol. He has previously sung Herod with considerable success at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Opéra National de Paris. South Florida audiences are familiar with Easterlin thanks to his appearances in his one-man concert, What a Character!:The Many Faces of John Easterlin, at the renowned Festival Miami in 2015-16.
As Salome's dissolute mother, Herodias, endlessly reviled by Jochanaan for being the embodiment of spiritual decay, FGO has engaged the vibrant mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop renowned for her many seasons as a Principal Artist at Washington National Opera, where her many indelible roles include Mère Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites and Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. She has also appeared successfully at the Metropolitan Opera, North Carolina Opera, and as a soloist with many leading symphony orchestras in the U.S.
Conductor Timothy Myers will lead the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra through Strauss's exciting and evocative score. Myers recently concluded a nearly decade-long appointment as Artistic and Music Director of North Carolina Opera, but he has been equally visible on the international scene. In 2016, at Wexford Festival Opera, he led a critically acclaimed staging of Samuel Barber's enigmatic opera Vanessa, and he returned to Wexford in 2017 for a popular production of Jacopo Moroni's obscure Italian comedy Margherita.
This production of Salome originated at Pittsburgh Opera in 2016, where it was hailed by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Robert Croan as "a don't- miss event." At FGO, Andrew Sinclair's original staging is in the experienced hands of director Bernard Uzan, who has devoted his life to the world of opera and theater. On the U.S. regional opera circuit, he is something of a legend, having helmed vibrant productions of a wide range of repertoire at dozens of companies, among them, San Francisco Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Zurich Opera House, The Dallas Opera and Teatro Massimo of Palermo. He has directed numerous productions for Florida Grand Opera, most recently Carmen in 2016/17. With his wife, the brilliant soprano Diana Soviero, he serves as Co-Artistic Director of the FGO Studio, and is responsible for bringing young and promising talent into the company. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from New York's Giulio Gari Foundation. He is also co-founder and director of Uzan International Artists, a thriving artist agency based in New York, which he oversees with his daughter, Vanessa Uzan.
Uzan has made a scene-stealing acting appearance on the Emmy-winning Amazon TV series Mozart in the Jungle. In 2017, Uzan appeared in the movie A Hand of Bridge directed by Frank Borin and David Miller which premiered in several European Festivals.
"I believe that we have assembled a Salome dream team," says Susan T. Danis, "one that will fully rise to the challenge of bringing out all of this work's disturbing power, and showing our audiences why it is a timeless masterpiece."
The performance schedule for FGO's Salome is as follows:
MIAMI/Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts' Ziff Ballet OperaHouse
Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 6 pm
Sunday, January 28 2018 at 2 pm
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 8 pm
Friday, February 2, 2018 at 8 pm
Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 8 pm
FORT LAUDERDALE/Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Au-Rene Theater
Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm
CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM:
Salome Melody Moore*(January 27, 30, February 3, 8)
Kirsten Chambers* (January 28, February 2, 10)
Jochanaan Mark Delavan*
Herodias Elizabeth Bishop*
Herod John Easterlin*
Narraboth Benjamin Werley
Conductor Timothy Myers*
Director Bernard Uzan*
Choreographer Rosa Mercedes*
Production Pittsburgh Opera
Set Designer Boyd Ostroff
Costume Designer Richard St. Clair*
Lighting Designer Kevin G. Mynatt
Assistant Conductor Joshua Horsch*
ABOUT FLORIDA GRAND OPERA
Florida Grand Opera (FGO), the oldest performing arts organization in Florida, celebrates its 77th Anniversary Season in 2017-18. The mainstage operas of the season include: Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (Nov. 11-Dec. 2), Richard Strauss's Salome (Jan. 27-Feb. 10), Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (Mar. 17-31), and Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas (Apr. 28-May 5).
FGO's Box Office is located at the Doral Center on 8390 NW 25th Street, Miami, FL 33122, and is open from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday during the season. Season tickets may be purchased online at www.FGO.org or by phone at (800) 741-1010.
Founded in 1941 as Greater Miami Opera and later merging with The Opera Guild Inc. in 1994, FGO presents a mixture of standard repertoire and contemporary works as well as commissions and new productions - all featuring projected translations in English and Spanish. FGO is recognized for funding by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding is also provided, in part, by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. Program support is provided by the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, and the Cultural Arts Council. Florida Grand Opera is a Resident Company of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and a member company of OPERA America. Steinway & Sons is the Official Piano of Florida Grand Opera.