Gregory Dahl as John the Baptist in Manitoba Opera's production of Salomé (Bob Tinker)
Based on Oscar Wilde's play of the same name, Salomé is set to music by Richard Strauss, with libretto by Hedwig Lachman. This opera is considered to be one of the greatest 20th century musical theatre productions. Sung in German (with English subtitles), it tells the biblical story of a princess who goes mad.
Strauss's score is full of lush sonorities and memorable melodies. In particular, the Dance of the Seven Veils featuring Salomé is striking in its sensuality. There is a clever way that the veil keeps Salomé covered - just barely...
So this inspired SCENE to invite seven of Manitoba Opera's on and off stage cast to reveal their passion for Salomé.
1. Dennis Petersen, Herod
Herodes is a fun, wild and concentrated ride from the moment he walks on stage to the end. Very difficult to sing, fun to act, and a totally despicable character. Underestimated by most who try it!
2. Gregory Dahl, Jokanaan (John the Baptist)
As Jokanaan, I get to sing some of the most beautiful musical lines in a loincloth. Half of my night is spent off stage as the "voice," singing to a TV monitor featuring a very hard-working Maestro. My night ends before Salomé starts dancing but, my fake decapitated head helps keep my character alive in the minds of the audience.
3. Mlada Khudoley, Salomé
Salomé was my very first work on the real opera stage, my debut role. It is growing up but never gets old - always receiving some new colors and interpretations. Here I am happy with the real beauty in the production and design.
4. Gwen Hoebig, WSO Concertmaster
As Concertmaster, I love this opera! The music is so integral to the mood - it is some of the most sensual music in the repertoire. Once Ty comes into the pit, we begin, are completely immersed in Strauss's surreal world for 1 hour and 40 minutes, and once everyone (almost) dies we finish and go home. In this production the cast is fabulous!
5. Larry Desrochers, director
From a director's perspective, I am continually struck by how well the music and text work together. Aside from reoccurring motifs, it depicts psychologically what is happening between the characters. If Herodias shrieks at Herod for looking at Salomé, the orchestra shrieks right along with her. When the Jews have an argument about whether or not John the Baptist is a prophet, the orchestra clashes as violently. When John the Baptists speaks of Jesus, the melody is sweet, and the orchestration angelic.
6. Tyrone Paterson, conductor
For the conductor, this opera is like climbing Mount Everest. It is both extremely challenging and exhilarating. Winnipeg is fortunate to have such a wonderful orchestra to support this amazing cast of world-class singers.
7. Paul Skirzyk, stage manager
This score is a bit more difficult to follow. It forces me to keep my eye on the page much more than a Pucchini or Rossini opera in order to cue the show as it was designed.
Listen to Weekend Morning Show host Keran Sanders' interview with Manitoba Opera General Director and CEO Larry Desrochers from Sunday November 13.
All photos above provided by Manitoba Opera.