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October 10, 2008

No nudity, please, we're skittish

Karita Mattila Salome If you're all excited about seeing Salome tomorrow, the first matinee HD simulcast of the season from the Metropolitan Opera, because you heard there's a lot of skin in the production, well, don't lose your head over it. Word is that soprano Karita Mattila's much-talked-about nude finale to the "Dance of the Seven Veils" will be discreetly filmed, avoiding the possibility that anyone in hundreds of movie theaters around the country will actually see her bare it all. But, hey, that sort of sensationalism is hardly why anyone goes to the opera, right? Besides, there's a whole mess of sensationalism just in Richard Strauss' stunning score for Salome

The good news for Baltimore-area opera fans is that there are more local venues than ever before to see this non-nudie scene, and, of course, to hear one of today's most compelling artists portray one of opera's most irresistibly evil women. If you've never experienced a Mattila performance, you're in for something very hot. She'll be joined in this cast by a fellow Finn, Juha Uusitalo, as Jochanaan and Kim Begley as Herod. Patrick Summers conducts.

Broadcast time for Salome  is 1 p.m. Saturday. Showings are available at the Lyric Opera House (110 W. Mt. Royal Ave.), Owings Mills 17 (10100 Mill Run Circle), Bel Air Cinema 14 (409 Constant Friendship Blvd, Abingdon), Snowden Square (9161 Commerce Center Dr., Columbia), and Columbia Mall 14 (10300 Little Patuxent Parkway). Click here for tickets.

(Personally, I don't know why there's been so much chatter about Mattila's willingness to take it all off. She's hardly the first soprano to do so. I still recall all too well, for example, a Salome with Maria Ewing at the San Francisco Opera back in the early '90s; her Full Monty turned out to be the only thing about her performance that stuck in the memory afterward. Too bad she couldn't have shed the wobble in her voice that night instead.)


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:44 AM | | Comments (2)


I'm guessing Americans will never grow-up in my life-time. Pathetic.

I saw the Saturday live broadcast and was disappointed with the camera work. The camera is not Mattila's friend. The close-ups showed too much of her face and it was hard to pretend she was a teenager. There were so many close shots that one couldn't see the moon (was there one?# when it was being described and it was impossible to choose where to look on the stage--we were forced to look where the camera wanted us to.

I'm near-sighted so I know I would have loved the performance if I'd been in the audience because it was a strong cast and the age-thing wouldn't have been so jarring.

But you can't just slap a couple of cameras on the stage and call it a film. Thanks for the info about the nude scene. I wondered about the nudity, or rather lack of it and thought it must have been censored. Too bad. Everyone in the audience (all 20 of us) were easily old enough to stand the sight of a nude woman.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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