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Edo de Waart conducts Salome Opera Concert

2005-01-10

Hong Kong, 4 Jan 2005 - The celebrated opera conductor will lead such prominent singers as Susan Bullock (starring as the title role of Salome), John Brocheler (as Jokanaan, also known as John the Baptist), Chris Merritt (as Herod, the Tetrach of Galilee), Bernadette Cullen (as Herodias, wife of Herod), and Marcel Reijans (as Narraboth, admirer of Salome), together with 8 other brilliant singers as well as over a hundred orchestral musicians. Salome will be sung in German, with Chinese and English surtitles.

"People often ask, why do an opera in concert? There are many reasons, but particularly in the operas of Wagner and Strauss, where the orchestra tells the story as much as the singers, concert performances offer a purer experience of the opera than a staged performance," Edo de Waart explained. "Having conducted many operas in the theatre, I can promise you that it is a very rare thing to find a stage producer who is in total sympathy with the score. In concert, this powerful and dramatic music can speak for itself."

Edo de Waart is a critically acclaimed opera conductor and one of the world's leading interpreters of Richard Strauss' music. He has enjoyed success conducting a large and varied repertoire in many of the greatest opera houses of the world, such as Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera and Bayreuth. He served as the Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Opera from 2000 until 2004. His farewell performance at the Netherlands Opera, in February 2004, was a new production of Der Rosenkavalier that was greeted with all-round praise by opera lovers and reviewers.

Portraying the leading role, Salome, is Susan Bullock, who has recently performed such demanding roles as Elektra (Brussels, La Scala, Milan in 04/05 season), Brunnhilde (The Ring, Tokyo, Perth) and Isolde (Tristan and Isolde). In the 2004 BBC Proms, she performed in Olivier Messiaen's Poemes pour Mi. ¡§Bullock is passionate and visceral,¡¨ wrote Michael Kennedy of The Sunday Telegraph, who also characterised her ¡§luxurious tone that gleams like steel.¡¨

Salome has belonged to every major opera house since its controversial premiere in Dresden 100 years ago. Cast in one sweeping and intense act in the historic time around 30 A.D., Salome portrays a neurotic and self-absorbed princess and her obsession with John the Baptist. As her reward for dancing in front of Herod (the famous Dance of the Seven Veils), John was executed. When the head of John was presented to Salome, she kissed the dead lips in ecstasy, which also led to her own murder ordered by Herod. The musical world was shocked by its powerful psycho-dramatic depiction of intense human instincts. Many attacked the ¡§immorality¡¨ of Salome's libretto, translated into German from an original text authored in French by Victorian literary giant Oscar Wilde based on a biblical story. The opera received 38 curtain calls at its premiere performance. However, Strauss was criticized for unconventionality in Salome and his subsequent depiction of another troubled female figure, Elektra (1909). Detractors aside, Salome has found devoted fans worldwide from 1905 to the present day, and its tremendous demands on vocal and orchestral mastery has made it a virtuoso benchmark for any acclaimed dramatic soprano.

This is the first of HKPO's venture to regularly feature opera in concert performances, beginning with the 2004/05 Season. Opera in concert enjoys an increasing popularity in recent decades. Every year at London's BBC Proms concerts, at least one opera is performed in the concert format. During Edo de Waart's tenures as Director in San Franciso and Sydney, he conducted many highly successful projects, including concert performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle, culminating in performances of Gotterdammerung as part of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival.

Tickets are now available at URBTIX at HK$680, $480, $340, and $220, through reservation at 2734 9009 (URBTIX) or Credit Card Booking at 2111 5999 (Cityline). For enquiries, please visit www.hkpo.com or call 2721 2030.

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) presents in concert Salome, the twentieth-century one-act opera classic by Richard Strauss, based on Oscar Wilde's original play. Conducted by HKPO's Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart, three performances will take place on 20, 22, and 24 January 2005 (Thu, Sat & Mon) at 8pm in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.