Salome, Salome Dance For Me.I pray thee dance for me. I am sad tonight. Yes I am passing sad tonight. Yes, dance for me Salome, and whatsoever thou shalt ask of me I will give thee, even unto half of my kingdom; So begged horny old Herod of his step daughter. Sealing the fate of John The Baptist at the calculated whim of a diseased maniac in this Opera by Richard Strauss adapted around the play by Oscar Wilde. It was bloody and it was brilliant and everything an opera or a piece of art should be. Northern Ireland Opera shone last night in the first of only two performances in Belfast at the Belfast Grand Opera House with a staggering central role as Salome by Giselle Allen whose voice rolled about the theater aisles with the resonance of a tsunami of sound. The accompaniment of The Ulster Orchestra turning it into a four D experience. It is a play which challenges and is at times both horrible and humanely tragic. Madness and desire and the absolute quality of a perfect faith in the face of brutality are at play in the words of Wilde but it is in the voices of the performers that it soars. It is a most modern looking interpretation of the play with a set that would not look out of place in a David Lynch play or some South American Gothic with Burl Ives as a grisly patriarch. John The Baptist is held not in some cobwebby dungeon in Judea two thousand years ago he is locked in a septic tank. When he emerges he is the very wrath of God. The dance of Salome is one of the highlights of the show.Hayley Chilvers takes over for this segment and she ably demonstrates the erotic assault upon the Court Of Herod and rapidly crumbles the last defenses of the mad ruler and any last ditch grasp of morality slip from his sweaty hands. Yet is even he ready for what follows?
This evening was a birthday treat for me by a dear friend Noel, a patron of an art form not familiar to me. A night at the opera. An opera based on a play by Wilde that venerates hedonism but also sits like a scarlet blossom in a filthy trench in hell. It is one act long, no interval and no prisoners taken.
An opera for our times.
I will not look at things,I will not suffer things to look at me.
Put out the torches!
Hide the moon!
Hide the Stars!