Grand Opera House
6th and 8th February 2015
There was tension in the air at the Grand Opera House tonight (Friday) as the dance of the Seven Veils drew close. It’s a pity that people were talking so much about the nude scene which turned out to be far from erotic with the dance itself being very aerobic!
Clever though to switch from a buxom Salome to a slim agile young woman who cartwheeled around Herod as he sat entranced.
This is a heavy opera, a Bible story rewritten by Oscar Wilde, set to music by Richard Struss with Oliver Mears producing and directing Northern Ireland Opera. This company has a high standard and the singing this year was the best I’ve heard and the casting very convincing. Modern dress, a Hacienda type low building with a huge picture window allowed us to look in on the guests at Herod’s birthday party as they watched the goings on outside.
Salome, (Giselle Allen) is an attractive young woman who has caught the eye of her step father Herod (Michael Colvin). If she dances for him he says he will grant her a wish, what ever she wants. She consults her mother Herodias (Heather Shipp), what should she ask for? Herodias has an axe to grind with Jokanaan, John the Baptist (Robert Hayward) who claims her marriage is unlawful. He had to be taught a lesson who why not ask for his head on a platter. She got her wish, but Salome regrets it and the final scene in this intense opera is bloody as the girl kisses the dead head and with the news from the Middle East, it’s hard to take.
The Ulster Orchestra are at their usual best but on occasions drowned out the singers although Michael Colvin managed to over come this. But the evening belonged to Giselle Allen who is both a convincing actress and an outstanding singer. The set, the costumes and the lighting all combine to make a memorable production, it’s a pity the public only have two chances to see it.
By Anne Hailes
Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.
Check out what else is on at the Opera House this season here.