SALOME – Now at SF Opera Through November 1st

Soprano Nadja Michael makes her San Francisco debut in Richard Strauss’ tale of Biblical bad girl

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera presents Richard Strauss’ biblical drama SALOME, starring German soprano Nadja Michael in the title role. Ms Michael makes her Company debut in this co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and L’Opéra de Montréal. Salome is directed by Seán Curran with Consulting Director and Dramaturg James Robinson. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts Strauss’ adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play for the first time. The erotic and murderous biblical story of Salome and her lecherous stepfather Herod has shocked opera audiences since its 1905 premiere in Dresden. Inspired by the Oscar Wilde play, the opera was banned in London and Vienna and was forced to close at the Metropolitan Opera after it’s debut performance. Salome is Strauss’ third opera and his first great success. The plot follows the sultry princess as she uses her seductive powers to orchestrate the beheading of John the Baptist by the command of her stepfather, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee. Cheering on the sidelines is the young princess’s mother Herodias, whose marriage to Herod has been repeatedly denounced by the politically-incorrect John as being totally incestuous. Salome’s love-making to John’s severed head so sickens Herod that he has her killed as well. Strauss’ opera has become regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century.

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NADJA MICHAEL as “Salome” – The Dance of the Seven Veils

Soprano Nadja Michael has performed “Salome” at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Milan’s La Scala; and Berlin’s Linden Opera. Since her debut as a soprano in 2005, Michael has sung “Leonore” (Fidelio) at the Vienna State Opera; the title role of “Tosca” at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Saxon State Opera in Dresden, Bavarian State Opera, and at the Arena di Verona and the Bregenz Festival; “Santuzza” (Cavalleria Rusticana) at Deutsche Oper Berlin; the title role of “The Merry Widow” at Berlin State Opera; “Lady Macbeth” (Macbeth) with Bavarian State Opera and Saxon State Opera; and “Medea” at La Monnaie in Brussels.

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Kim Begley (Herod), Nadja Michael (Salome), and Irina Mishura (Herodias)

British tenor Kim Begley returns to San Francisco Opera in the role of King Herod, which he has both performed at the Metropolitan Opera and recorded on the Decca label. Begley was last heard with the Company as Captain Vere in 2004’s Billy Budd. Bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who last appeared at San Francisco Opera as “Count Monterone” in Rigoletto, sings “Jokanaan” (John the Baptist). Grimsley has previously sung Jokanaan at the Metropolitan Opera and Vancouver Opera, and he will reprise the role at Arizona Opera this season. Russian born mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura, who made her Company debut in the summer of 1998 in the title role of Carmen and returned in 2005 as “Adalgisa” in Norma, sings the role of Salome’s mother, “Herodias”. Later this season Mishura will sing Herodias at Covent Garden and at Madrid’s Teatro Real. American tenor Garrett Sorenson makes his San Francisco Opera debut as “Narraboth” in this production. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong appears as “a Page”, marking her Company debut.

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GREER GRIMSLEY (Jokanaan)

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IRINA MISHURA (Herodias)

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Nadja Michael (Salome) and Garett Sorenson (Narraboth)

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in his first performances of the opera. The production team includes Director Seán Curran, a noted choreographer who makes his directorial debut with this production; Consulting Director and Dramaturg Jim Robinson, whose production of Il Trittico the Company presented earlier this season; and Production Designer Bruno Schwengl, who was also costume designer for Il Trittico.

Salome plays five performances through November 1st. Click here for ticket information:
Saturday, Oct 24th, 8:00 pm
Wednesday, Oct 21st, 7:30 pm
Saturday, Oct 24th, 8:00 pm
Tuesday, Oct 27th, 8:00 pm
Friday, Oct 30th, 8:00 pm
Sunday, Nov 1st, 2:00 pm

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NICOLA LUISOTTI, Conductor. “The Dancer’s Reward” – A. Beardsley, 1907

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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