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Kelly Cae Hogan as Salome, Alan Woodrow as Herod, Rosalind Plowright as Herodias in Portland Opera's "Salome" © Cory Weaver / Portland Opera

Kelly Cae Hogan as Salome, Alan Woodrow as Herod,
Rosalind Plowright as Herodias in Portland Opera’s “Salome” © Cory Weaver /
Portland Opera

by MARIA CHOBAN

It was the best of crimes, March 1986, Seattle, sitting in the car with my friend having just witnessed Richard Strauss’s double-murder opera “Salome,” both of us so stunned by the brutal experience we sat in silence for a long time, me shaking due to the shock or cold, it doesn’t matter which.

It was the worst of crimes, last Friday in Portland’s Keller Auditorium, my companion turning to me at the finale of “Salome” and shrugging “I don’t see what all the fuss is about.” I knew it was coming within the first two minutes of the title character’s entrance, having absorbed the blow of a boring, incomprehensibly acted Salome. But the crime was the betrayal I felt because the bloodiest of the sexually bloody, what I took for granted as a bullet-proof opera, was neutered by what I initially chalked up to bad acting, eliciting from my companion not my anger at a trashed production but something much much worse: indifference.

WHAT THE HELL???? What went wrong?

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