As temptresses and vixens go, Hollywood is celebrated for those that transfix audiences via the silver screen. The city’s stages are no exception especially when it comes to the LA Opera’s newest production of Salome, with Patricia Racette in the titular role. As the Judean princess, Racette’s provocative performances kick off on February 18. Let your guard down for doses of desire, seduction, and scandal in biblical proportions.
Lady Macbeth, Roxane, Cio-Cio-San… Racette is no stranger to captivating audiences as some of opera’s most beloved female characters. The renowned soprano has performed these roles around the globe on celebrated stages including the Met, Washington National Opera, the Royal Opera, and Teatro alla Scala. This will be Racette’s third turn as Salome for the 2016-17 season, with previous runs at the Met and Pittsburgh Opera.
As Salome, Racette epitomizes a femme fatale by holding a bevy of men in her thrall with more than one meeting his demise. The opera opens with Salome weaving her wiles over an imprisoned John the Baptist (played by baritone Tómas Tómasson). Rather than succumb to her beauty, the holy man curses Salome preferring his dungeon over her advances. When King Herod (tenor Allan Glassman) and Queen Herodias, Salome’s mother (soprano Gabriele Schnaut), happen upon the scene, a bargain is struck – if Salome will dance for Herod, he’ll grant whatever she wishes in return. The young woman’s request could very well have spurred the quote, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Salome, based on the 1891-penned Oscar Wilde play was first performed by the LA Opera during its inaugural year in 1986. This will be the opera’s third reprisal, following productions in 1989 and 1998. Set design from John Bury and lighting design from Duane Schuler pays homage to the staging of predecessor performances. Behind the conductor’s baton will be LA Opera’s acclaimed music director James Conlon.
As Salome undulates during the famed “Dance of the Seven Veils”, audiences will undoubtedly fall under her spell. After all, what better ingredients than lust and a lack of scruples make for a perfect night at the opera?