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A singer of diva-like temperament can get away with much in this role; turning in the sort of performance where they mesmerize simply by the power of their personality. But a singer like Barker who attempts to get under the skin of this rather unattractive young girl, must find a route into the deepest recesses of Salome's psyche, and exercise a powerful fascination over the audience from the singer's first entry. Barker's Salome is still a little too attractive and fails to generate this mesmerizing fascination.

ENO supported Barker with a fine cast. John Graham-Hall and Sally Burgess made a fine couple as Herod and Herodias; both are still vocally in their prime so do not have to resort to vocal caricature. It was good to hear these roles properly sung. Burgess's Herodias looked attractive; she was not simply the awful old battle-axe that we often get. You could see why Herod might have married her. Graham-Hall was a wonderfully believable, neurotic Herod and allowed his voice to flower mellifluously where necessary, but he also conveyed Herod's unhealthy obsession with his step daughter.

Geraint Hinton was standing in at short notice for Andrew Rees in the role of Narraboth so I must simply commend his aplomb and look forward to seeing him again. Rebecca de Pont Davies made a good impression as the page. Robert Hayward made a strong voiced Jokanaan. It is heartening to hear that his voice has not suffered as a result of his run of Wotans in the recent ENO Ring. His performance as Jokanaan was thrillingly vivid, displaying the intensity which was missing in Cheryl Barker's Salome.

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Copyright © 2 November 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK


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