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Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..

Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded. Now “Chad Deity” has ret..

“This is no camera, nothing cut. This is real," says Tranee Wallace, whose story is one of three live radio plays in Dan Froot and Company's "Pang!" at Miami Light Project's Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse. Hers is one of a triptych of oral histories adapted into plays of families facing adversity: A Los Angeles single mom who loses the home she and her nine children live in after..

When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..

The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..

My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..

He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..

A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..

Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..

Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..

With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..

Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..

Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..

It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..

#Salometoo: Florida Grand Opera Explores a Woman’s Sexuality at a Critical Moment

Photo: Photo credit: Lucia Escott.
Written by: Celeste Landeros
Article Rating

A creepy old king ogles his beautiful stepdaughter. Powerless to stop him, her mother, the queen, protests drunkenly. The girl, age maybe 12 or so, falls for the only man who does not lust after her: a prophet, John the Baptist. When the prophet rejects her, the girl manipulates the king’s desire and persuades him to deliver to her the prophet’s head. As in so many biblical stories, the girl, Salome, is to blame. The Florida Grand Opera production of “Salome,” opening this Saturday, seeks the girl’s salvation.

When asked how the sexual desire portrayed in Richard Strauss’ 1905 opera might resonate today, director Bernard Uzan balks: “I don’t even see the connection between “Salome” and the #metoo [movement].” Describing the court of King Herod and Queen Herodias, Uzan explains, “It’s not a man’s world. It’s a decadent world. They live in a time of total sexual freedom, for the powerful.”

Yet the 73-year-old, Tunisian-born director, who has helmed more than 400 opera productions since 1973, is keenly aware that the rules for how men and women work together in the opera world have changed.

“I don’t know how to behave, because I don’t know how it will be taken,” he says. Once he might have told a soprano: In this moment, I want you to feel the same way you feel when you make love. Now, he regrets, “I cannot say that anymore, because it’s harassment.”

On second thought, maybe this new climate has influenced how he is directing his fourth production of “Salome.” “We have to find a new way of connecting to people,” he observes. “That’s why I do this “Salome” completely different than I did it 10 years ago, because I need to find new solutions.”

Last season at FGO, Uzan took some liberties with the plot of the beloved opera, “Carmen.” He hints that this season’s “Salome” may end with a surprise as well. He asks a reporter to give nothing away, except to say that there may be some salvation for Salome.

“I’m an old man,” he explains. “Maybe I’m looking for salvation too.”

In the role of John the Baptist (Jochanaan), bass-baritone Marc Delavan says that he had not thought about “Salome” in the context of #metoo either. Yet he believes that no teenage girl would be so “hypersexualixed, without tutelage” – whether she was abused by her stepfather or perhaps one of the soldiers.

Delavan has played Jochanaan six times over the past 15 years. How his prophet responds to Salome’s advances depends on the director – and the soprano. For example, he sang in the 2009 Barcelona production that featured the debut in the title role of the Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, now the preeminent Salome of our day. “Nina was all about violent,” he recalls. “So sometimes I would have to take a very low, almost martial arts stance, or she was going to knock me down. She’d get up in my face, and I love that.”

At FGO, Kirsten Chambers, who will alternate in the lead role with Melody Moore, calls for a different response. “She’s a terrific dancer, and her sexuality is very lithe,” he observes. “So I have to stay stationary.”

Delavan calls Salome “a victim victimizing.” He views John as a symbol for standing up to oppression. “He goes out shaking his fist at the world,” he notes, “I applaud the women standing up and shaking their fists and saying no more.”

In the title role, Chambers needed no prompting to make the connection between “Salome” and #metoo. “I have thought about it,” she says during a break from rehearsal. “This is a very relevant story.”

At the opening of the opera, Salome steps outside a family gathering to escape her stepfather’s gaze. “People say, ‘Why are you leaving the party?’” Chambers points out. “But no one does anything.” In this context, Salome’s desire for John makes sense. “She’s looking for spirituality,” Chambers explains. “She wants him, because he’s not looking at her. He does not make her uncomfortable.”

Even the infamous dance of the seven veils conceals as much as it reveals. Working with choreographer Rosa Mercedes, Chambers alternates between displaying her naked body and covering herself from head to toe. The use of the veils is a symbol for women being looked at by men, she explains.

Even the most scandalous moment, when Salome kisses John’s severed head, can be seen in terms of her abuse. “When we talk about the mouth, we’re getting into her sexuality, and how difficult it is to awaken to your sexuality when you’re being looked at all the time,” Chambers suggests. “In the final scene, she says, ‘I thought love would have a bitter taste.’ But, no, it doesn’t. So I think there is some kind of hope in this young woman.”

FGO’s “ Salome,” Saturday, Jan. 27 through February 3; Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. (and February 8 and 10 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets cost $21 - $225.


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