Pornophony on Video--Dark production of Richard Strauss'' Salome has a little of everything.
Thursday, June 11, 1998
Richard Strauss'' opera Salome, based on the Oscar Wilde story, made the composer rich enough to buy his spacious villa at Garmisch. Already adept at exhibiting such family values as sexual relations between a grown woman and a teenage boy >(Rosenkavalier) and patricide >(Elektra), Strauss in Salome invented a kind of music that might well be called "pornophony." Not only does the title character arouse erotic obsession in her bodyguard and her stepfather, but consummates her own sexual craving by making passionate, physical love to the decapitated head of John the Baptist.
Needless to say, this wholesome entertainment is better seen than merely heard. And now you can do it in the comfort and privacy of your own home, thanks to the recent release on video tape starring Catherine Malfitano as Salome and Bryn Terfel as the Baptist (London 440 074 205-3). The Luc Bondy production, filmed at Covent Garden, is conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi and features Anja Silja as Herodias and Kenneth Riegel as Herod. Hans Hulscher is the video director. A dark, spare set lit by pools of light enhances the foul odors of lascivious desire and self-indulgence. Malfitano matches her sung portrayal to an often lurid characterization; her Dance of the Seven Veils goes beyond Herod''s request. Terfel''s Jokanaan offers the work''s only moments of morality and, by the way, the best vocal production on display. Riegel makes the carrot-haired Herod into a whining, blathering twit while Silja, once famous for her Salome, plays the nagging but ineffectual Herodias complete with wobbling high notes.
With even higher recommendations are two Metropolitan Opera productions taped in 1994 and just released on video: Puccini''s Il Tabarro, starring Placido Domingo and Leoncavallo''s Pagliacci, with Luciano Pavarotti (Deutsche Grammophon 440 072 548-3). With superior picture quality and superb video direction by Brian Large, these performances both feature James Levine on the podium and two veteran singing actors, Juan Pons and the outstanding Teresa Stratas. The Puccini is the least performed of the trilogy of one-acts that includes Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. Lasting one hour, it gives each of its principals a fine solo scene in which to disclose his or her character and motives. (Florence Quivar gives an excellent cameo as La Frugola.) Stratas'' performance in Pagliacci is even more gripping and Pavarotti achieves extraordinary emotional sympathy as the tormented, jealous and ultimately murderous Canio.
The set of six videos called Yo Yo Ma inspired by Bach has finally been released on video tape by Sony (SHV 60196-98, 62852, 62724, 62808). Each may be purchased singly. (Ma''s recording of the actual six cello suites of Bach are available on Sony CD S2K 63203). Best way to experience the collection, which was telecast on PBS several weeks ago, is as six discrete films. In that regard, each is much different from the others, but in all of them, the music finds itself in contexts that go far beyond anything Bach intended or even imagined. Throughout, Ma successfully extends his parallel career of using music--old and new--to address contemporary social issues. Taken as a whole, the collection draws added attention to Bach while simultaneously putting the spotlight on other art forms and how they should, or could, function in contemporary life. Purists have already registered their protests, but these gutsy, provocative exercises give the mind much to chew on and digest.
Last Week''s Quiz:It is said that composer Paul Hindemith played every common western instrument except harp and guitar. What major composer of his generation claimed to play every common western instrument except oboe? Answer: Heitor Villa Lobos.
This Week''s Quiz:Describe the origin of the word gamut.
Chorale & Bell Choir
Thursday, 7:30 PM. Forty-eight high school musicians from the Cathedral of the Rockies (Boise) perform eclectic program. First Presbyterian Church, 501 Eldorado St., Monterey. Free. 373-3031.
Friday/Saturday, 8 PM. Margaret Kwamme conducts Concert Choir & Women''s Chorale in 19th-century German works. Music Center Recital Hall, UC Santa Cruz. $8/general, $5/seniors, $3/students. 459-2159.
DanceKids Carmel Ballet Company
Saturday, 7:30 PM. An original ballet version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, features Reed Scott in title role, 35 members of corps de ballet of the Carmel Ballet Company. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. $5. 624-3729.
Sunday, 8 PM. Recital of harpsichord works by JS Bach and his contemporaries. Music Center Recital Hall, UC Santa Cruz. $8/general, $5/seniors, $3/students. 459-2159.