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Impeccable singing, but the dancing… not so much

Seven Veils leave a lot to be desired in ENO’s latest staging of Salome

04 October, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor

Allison Cook in the title role as Salome. Photo: Catherine Ashmore

THE famed Dance of the Seven Veils is the highpoint of Richard Strauss’s opera Salome, an intoxicating flaunting of female allure. That’s just not the case in Australian feminist director Adena Jacobs’ English National Opera staging now running at the London Coliseum.

Instead, we get a humdrum, sexless performance that’s not likely to excite many males, let alone a king, as Salome is out to do.

Although Allison Cook is a terrific mezzo, she has no pretensions to be a great dancer. As Salome, her dancing is limited to a few yoga postures, dog-downs, forward lunges and sideways bends plus a lot of waving her long mane of blond hair all over the place.

Then, the Team Twerk of five dancers takes over. But they’re not much better, prancing about the stage as though they were Pussy Rioters, doing a lot of pelvic thrusts.

The unfortunate Dance of the Seven Veils is symptomatic of the staging, all somewhat aimless and disconnected. Which is a shame because much of the singing is impeccable, notably Allison Cook as Salome and Michael Colvin as Herod.

David Soar makes for a terrific John the Baptist, holding a “selfie” camera at arm’s length so that large pictures of his singing mouth can be beamed onto a huge screen.

Conductor Martyn Brabbins is outstanding in his ability to draw the very best from the ENO orchestra, delivering Strauss’s fantastic music in spades.

• ENO’s Salome is at the London Coliseum, St Martins Lane, WC2, on October 6, 12, 18, 20 and 23, 020 7845 9300, www.eno.org

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