Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 18 News List

`Salome' is revisited and reconstructed in Felix Chen's new production at National Theater

By Bradley Winterton  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Salome (tonight and Sunday at Taipei's National Theater) may turn out not be quite the experience traditionalists will be expecting. Instead, it turns out to be a form of "deconstruction" of Strauss' opera, while musically vigorous in the best traditional manner.

The set will indeed show a palace in which a decadent Herod and his debauched wife Herodias drunkenly cavort.

But rather than luxury decayed into dilapidation, it all resembles a palace that the builders never

completed.

As for the ending, something like the opposite of what those who know the work as Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss wrote it should be expected.

At rehearsals this week Felix Chen conducted his Taipei Symphony Orchestra like a man inspired.

This is one in a long line of magnificent concerts and opera productions Chen, a veritable Taiwanese "living national treasure" has given to Taipei City.

Inga Fischer (Salome) possesses a magnificent voice that it's hard to believe is issuing from the slight frame that makes her so appropriately girlish for the role. Peter Weber (the Baptist) is a tower of strength, physically and vocally. Hans-Dietr Bader makes a snarlingly harsh Herod, with a voice that penetrates to every corner of the theater.

He is matched at every point by Leandra Overmann, marvelously over-the-top as a voluptuous, pleasure-loving Herodias.

Backstage, Overmann related with relish how she was mistaken for soprano Montserrat Caballe at Chiang Kai-shek airport by a senior immigration official after a junior one had failed to find Yugoslavia (the country of her passport) on any list.

Currently tickets are available at N$1,200 for Friday's and NT$1,000 and NT$1,200 for Sunday's performance.

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