This WNO year ended with an incredible presentation program of the various projects our partnership schools had created. Over the course of two days, over 15 schools performed their works (3rd, 4th and 5th graders, and our first Kindergarten class), to the delight and engagement of their peers, parents, and supporters. The pieces were diverse, hugely imaginative, ambitious, and executed enthusiastically by the students who had created them! The proceedings were ‘hosted’ by Ben Eisler, ABC-7/WJLA-TV.
…the smirks that come out, when someone speaks of opera, are often automatic and based on the image of the ample soprano, mouthing mulch in excessively broad mastication, showing decorative strain of the eyebrow, and a quaking bit of flesh at the back of the throat. Hands are either clasped in an aching clutch of penance, or make serious and abrupt movements detailing ‘anger’, ‘hope’, ‘despair’, ‘love’, in such stylistic synch, moment to movement, that the heyday of silent films is evoked, regardless of how modern the music or production. ..and then there are the tenors..
..bathes the first advance Salome makes to molest John the Baptist; aghast, the orchestra blares outrage with a shiver of lust, as she grapples to feel his body.. “Lass mich ihn berühren deinen Leib.” ..-but Salome dismisses instantly the grave white flesh of the Apostle, and desires instead the black snakes of his hair.. “Lass mich es berühren, dein Haar!” Jochannan spurns and hisses at Salome; crimson, the lips that condemn her, incite her instead..
The DC opera season has started. Washington National Opera began with the lyric gallows swing of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, and is now tilting into the eroticism of Strauss’s Salome –an uncanny offering to my mind, reflecting the present zeitgeist, as plattered heads seem the political metaphor of choice these days.