Ian Anderson 4 p.m., Oct. 17
San Diego Opera: Heads Will Roll (1 of 4)
I sat down this week with Lise Lindstrom and Greer Grimsley. Lise and Greer are the stars of San Diego Opera's upcoming production of Richard Strauss' Salome.
They happen to be two of my favorite singers in the world. We talked about Salome, rolling heads, nudity, education, Black Sabbath, San Diego, athletes, good guys vs. bad guys, symphony audiences vs. opera audiences, singers and much more.
For now, we'll stick to Salome at San Diego Opera. Greer is playing John the Baptist (Jokanaan) while Lise will be performing the title character.
Long story short, Salome develops an infatuation for Jokanaan. He spurns her and she vows that she will kiss his mouth. She connives to have Jokanaan beheaded by seductively dancing for her father-in-law King Herod.
When Jokanaan's severed head is presented to her on a silver platter, she takes her kiss.
With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to talk about humor.
SDReader: "Can you talk about performing opera and having a sense of humor? There seems to be a perception that opera isn't supposed to be funny".
Lise: "We laugh at opera all the time".
Greer: "My gosh, especially with the piece we have at hand [Salome]. It's only 90 minutes long but it's opera concentrate so there's enough there for a five-hour opera. It's this really tight ball of intensity and when you have a situation like that there are moments of levity that we need to find in the rehearsal process.
"You have to. It's a release. It's important to have a child-like attitude. You can't be childish but you need that sense of wonder--looking at all the options and possibilities and that does include humor a lot of the time. Things don't always happen when they should--you know..."
Lise: "For example, at rehearsal they brought the head out in a bag and set it onto the silver platter. Well you know--heads roll and the head rolled and I thought...oops. I guess that's what one says when that happens at the most intense moment of the opera".
SDReader: "Do you guys feel like you're just the prelude while everyone gets ready for Moby Dick"?
Lise: Laughing. "Thanks! Thanks a lot. Yeah, we're the warm-up act".
SDReader: "Well, it's only 90 minutes long."
Greer: "Yeah, we're the first act."
Lise: "It's fitting too--actually."
Greer: "Both have biblical overtones--both operas. I've never thought about that before. Ahab does quote a lot of scripture."
Of course, the story of John the Baptist's beheading shows up in two of the four gospel accounts.
With Greer and Lise holding the principal roles, Salome promises to be a production of biblical proportions.