“Salome”: Mattila in Ecstasy

The composer Richard Strauss called Salome, the title character in his 1905 opera, “a 16-year-old princess with the voice of Isolde.” The problem with many sopranos who attempt the role is that they don’t look youthful. (And I’m not speaking only of Montserrat Caballe, who grew so stout in later years that she refused to perform the character’s signature Dance of the Seven Veils. Lucky for us, I guess.) Karita Mattila (pictured), the Finnish singer who is currently performing the role at the Metropolitan Opera, is 48 but physically fit, so her sensuality as she slinks around the production’s unattractive, modern, trap-laden set is believable. And her voice! If there were a prize for Gleam she would win it hands down. Not to mention the power. I wish the Met would package this performance and release it to the public, in any form, so more people could experience its impact.

Leave a Comment