Antoine Mariotte: Salome, Wexford Festival Opera Orchestra and Chorus, David Angus (conductor), Wexford Opera House, Ireland, 28.10.2014 (JMI)
Salome: Na’ama Goldman
Jokanaam: Igor Golovatenko
Herodes: Scott Wilde
Herodias: Nora Sourouzian
Narraboth: Eamonn Mulhall
Herodias Page: Emma Watkinson
First Soldier: Nicholas Morris
Second Soldier: Jorge Navarro-Colorado
Direction: Rosetta Cucchi
Sets: Tiziano Santi
Costumes: Claudia Pernigotti.
Lighting: D. M. Wood
The final work of the Wexford festival was this almost unknown Salome, composed by Antoine Mariotte. Rarely have two operas on the same subject had an important place in the main repertoire. I would say that the only exceptions are both Manons, Puccini’s and Massenet’s; and to some extent Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Bellini’s Capuleti.
Antoine Mariotte (1875-1944) was a composer who had quite a reputation in his native France, with a catalogue of half a dozen operas that are now forgotten. Salome was his first opera, composed around the time that Richard Strauss wrote his masterpiece of the same title. Both are based on the work of Oscar Wilde, which resulted in legal issues between the two composers on the rights. Strauss’s Salome premiered in Dresden in 1905, while that of Mariotte was premiered in 1908 in Lyon. It had some success at first, but soon fell into oblivion. After 1919 its revivals on stage were almost non existent; the most recent outings were at Montpellier in 2005, and earlier this year in concert in Munich (Prinzregententheater).
Mariotte’s Salome is an opera that might have had some success, but he had the misfortune to compete with the Strauss work. The difference between them is quite important, especially considering that the libretto is almost the same in both cases.
Rosetta Cucchi’s production was not convincing: it makes use of symbols that are not easily understood by the average viewer. Salome is always surrounded by 7 crowned kings, who fall down one by one in the dance of the veils, leaving Salome with a single iron crown that represents Jokanaam. There is no head of the Baptist, just a crown. Otherwise, it is a fairly traditional production, and the plot is exactly as in Richard Strauss. The set offers a reduced space with walls on both sides and the entrance to Jokanaam’s cave in the middle. The costumes are also quite traditional.
The musical direction was in the hands of David Angus who led the work efficiently, but it takes more for this opera to succeed. His conducting was a little bland for my taste, but the orchestra gave a good performance.
Here Salome is a mezzo soprano, and she was interpreted by Na’ama Goldman. She offered a compelling stage interpretation but was rather insufficient in vocal terms: her voice lacks amplitude and the low notes are very weak.
Jokanaam was sung by baritone Igor Golovatenko, who did well. His voice can be a bit light, but he has no problem being heard, except when singing inside the cave.
Herod is a baritone which seemed less appropriate here than in Strauss’s Salome. He was portrayed by Scott Wilde who was correct without much luster.
Herodias, a mezzo soprano, was performed by Nora Sourouzian, whose voice is attractive in the middle but rather tight at the top.
Finally, the secondary characters were well covered by tenor Eamonn Mulhall (Narraboth) and mezzo soprano Emma Watkinson (Herodias Page).
The theatre was almost sold out. The audience was colder with the artists than at other performances.
José Mª Irurzun