Salome: Opera San Antonio

01.08.15
Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Patricia Racette
OPERA NEWS

By Mike Greenberg

The production drew wide notice for soprano Patricia Racette’s staged role debut as the willful, adolescent princess who lusts after John the Baptist in Strauss’ adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play. (Racette had sung Salome in concert at the Ravinia Festival the previous summer.)  The role had seemed an odd fit for Racette, who has made her illustrious mark as a lyric soprano. Salome demands a dramatic soprano of enormous stamina and power, equally comfortable with a punishingly high tessitura and with descents into the contralto range. Racette delivered the goods, her luxuriously gleaming instrument riding easily above the large orchestra and staying fresh to the very end. One might have wished for a bit more vocal risk and impetuosity at times, but her color, resources and care with the text sufficed to convey most of Salome’s perverse character. She performed the Dance of the Seven Veils with convincing lasciviousness and, at its nude conclusion, a figure that any stripper could envy.... 

The San Antonio Symphony sounded glorious, and its music director, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conducted with seamless flow and a fine ear for detail. The H-E-B Performance Hall in the recently opened Tobin Center for the Performing Arts handily passed its first test as an opera venue. The orchestra was able to project the full spectrum of Strauss’ colors and pumped plenty of sound into the hall without overpowering the singers. 

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