Stage Door News
Toronto: The Canadian Opera Company presents Richard Strauss’s “Salome” February 3-24, 2023
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
A dance–perhaps the most famous one in history–precedes a macabre kiss and untimely demise in Richard Strauss’ Salome, on stage this winter at the Canadian Opera Company. Under the direction of Academy Award nominee Atom Egoyan, the ground-breaking thriller that’s shocked audiences since its 1905 world premiere has been transformed into a powerful fusion of opera, dance, and film, starring Canadian soprano Ambur Braid in the demanding title role. Salome runs for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on February 3, 5, 9, 11, 17, 19, and 24, 2023.
Adapted from the Oscar Wilde play of the same name, the opera recounts the Biblical story of Salome, a tempestuous young princess whose obsession with the prisoner Jochanaan (John the Baptist) turns deadly when her feelings are roundly rejected. Hell-bent on revenge, she offers her lecherous stepfather, the king, a provocative dance in exchange for Jochanaan’s head.
Ambur Braid returns to the COC following her “powerful” performance (Opera News) as Sabina in the world premiere of Hadrian (2018), by Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor. As Salome for Oper Frankfurt, the Ensemble Studio alumna’s depiction was hailed as a “watershed” moment (Opera Canada) with a radical and uncompromising portrayal that “[went] to the limit of a self-destructive portrait” (O-Ton).
Braid is joined by Hadrian castmate and renowned Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila, who brings her “fabulous and fearlessly direct singing” (The Guardian) to the role of Salome’s mother, Herodias. Veteran Canadian tenor Michael Schade takes on the role of King Herod, returning to the COC after thrilling audiences with his darkly comic turn as Aegisth in COC’s Elektra (2019). German baritone Michael Kupfer-Radecky makes a COC and North American debut as ill-fated Jochanaan, and, in a role debut, French Canadian tenor Frédéric Antoun performs as Narraboth, a captain of Herod’s guard who is infatuated with cruel Salome.
In Atom Egoyan’s interpretation, the storyline shifts from a first-century palace to an abstract and foreboding set by Derek McLane, drawing focus from the characters’ affluence and status to their inner machinations and motivations. Medical and military-inspired costumes from Catherine Zuber underscore an institutional feel, while lighting from Davida Tkach, based on original designs from Michael Whitfield–combined with elements of film and photography, as well as projections by Phillip Barker and shadow puppetry designed by Clea Minaker–heighten the feeling of fixation and surveillance throughout the opera. Revival choreographer Julia Aplin leads original choreography from Serge Bennathan in staging the infamous Dance of the Seven Veils.
COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts the COC Orchestra for Salome. Each performance will feature more than 90 musicians in the pit, helping to fully realize Strauss’ ambitious vision for an explosive score that would redefine modern storytelling.
Salome is sung in German and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
Single tickets for Salome range from $35 – $250 for adults, with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350, and $22 tickets available for guests between the ages of 6 and 29 through the COC’s Opera Under 30 program. Tickets can be purchased online at www.coc.ca or by calling the Four Seasons Centre Box Office at 416-363-8231. For more information on booking student groups, standing room, and rush tickets, as well as other specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, please visit www.coc.ca.
Photo: Erika Sunnegårdh as Salome in the COC’s production of Salome. © 2013 Michael Cooper.