Racette’s Salome Puts Lurid Seal On Opera San Antonio
January 15, 2015
Classical Voice North America
“SAN ANTONIO — As the first full-scale opera of its inaugural season, Opera San Antonio offered the much anticipated debut of soprano Patricia Racette in her first fully staged performance of Richard Strauss’ Salome (after a concert version at the Ravinia Festival last summer). The musically and dramatically incisive production was conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing and directed and choreographed by Candace Evans at the 1,700-seat H-E-B Performance Hall of the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Strauss himself declared that the ideal Salome should be a 16-year-old girl with the voice of an Isolde. That combination is rare, indeed, which accounts for the hefty Salomes over the years who have wisely avoided the dreaded Dance of the Seven Veils, or the lithe singing actresses who looked right but lacked the chops for the music’s huge vocal challenges.
Salome (Patricia Racette) listens to Jochanaan in the cistern.
Racette proved to have the right mix in the opening performance Jan. 8, delivering the goods with intelligent musicianship and a more robust, silver-flecked instrument than she normally displays.
Any concerns about bringing her brighter sound to what amounts to a Wagnerian role generally were put to rest. Salome’s vocal range covers more than two octaves, from the top of the treble staff down to G below middle C. Racette’s ringing high notes were well supported, while most of the lower phrases were rich and mahogany-hued. Some lines were mere whispers, others – especially when she reacted to Jochanaan’s rebuffs – were almost shrieking. Later, as she wheedled Herod to give her the gruesome reward, her dramatic pacing was carefully considered as she wove a tapestry of ever-increasing madness that was downright chilling.”