Salome | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The emotional intensity of Richard Strauss's one-act opera, based on Oscar Wilde's play about the increasingly deranged stepdaughter of Herod, never lets up, and dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt, doing her first fully staged performance as Salome, is incredible. Her acting is wonderful, and her sound is magnificent--gorgeous whether loud or soft and always above the orchestra. She's absolutely riveting in the disturbing final scene, as she kisses and sings to the severed head of John the Baptist, here called Jochanaan. Only the famous Dance of the Seven Veils is disappointing; the weight Voight lost allows her to move more easily, but she still isn't quite comfortable in her body, and the choreography doesn't help. Bass-baritone Alan Held is outstanding as the wild Jochanaan, his enormous voice and physicality just right, and tenor Kim Begley is terrific as the unctuous and over-the-top Herod. The rest of the cast and the orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, are also superb. Salome hasn't been performed here in a decade, and tickets will fly. See also Monday; through November 21. a 7:30 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, 312-332-2244, $42-$179.

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