FGO’s second-cast soprano makes a first-class Salome

By Lawrence Budmen

Kirsten Chambers sang the title role in Florida Grand Opera's "Salome" Sunday afternoon. Photo: Chris Kakol

Kirsten Chambers sang the title role in Florida Grand Opera’s “Salome” Sunday afternoon. Photo: Chris Kakol

Kirsten Chambers took center stage in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Salome on Sunday afternoon at the Arsht Center. And this time, Florida Grand Opera’s riveting production got the protagonist it deserved. 

Chambers has had considerable experience in Strauss repertoire and this role in particular. In 2016 she made her Metropolitan Opera debut on a few hours notice as Salome, having already sung it in Hong Kong. That same year she took over the leading soprano role on two days notice in a New York concert performance of Strauss’s rarely heard opera Friedenstag. With that kind of resume, one cannot help wonder why Chambers was not cast for this starring role on opening night rather than Melody Moore, a soprano who had not previously sung the part.

From her first entrance Chambers proved a Salome to be reckoned with. She brought movie-star glamour and a sense of cunning to the princess’s every move. Chambers is a terrific singing actress, and even when she stood perfectly still on stage, she commanded attention. She was lively and vivacious at her first entrance. This Salome was downright flirtatious toward Jochanaan when he emerged from the cistern and seemed bewildered by his rejection and denouncement, reaching out to him as he returned to his prison. She became a tigress as she intoned the phrase “Give me the head of Jochanaan” to Herod with ever more rage. There was not much even Chambers could do with Rosa Mercedes’ leaden choreography for the Dance of the Seven Veils but she executed it with grace and fluidity.

Chambers’ vocal range easily encompassed the role’s demands, and her bright sound carried easily over Strauss’s orchestra at full force with high notes that ring like steel.  She reveled in the long phrases, bringing finely varied dynamics and vocal coloring to her exchanges with Herod. Chambers made the psychodrama of the final scene compelling as Salome embraces the severed head of the prophet in this solo tour de force.

Chambers has two more performances. She is definitely the Salome to catch in director Bernard Uzan’s vividly staged production.

Florida Grand Opera announced its 2018-2019 season at Sunday’s matinee. Puccini’s evergreen La Boheme is the opener (November 3-17), followed by Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (January 26-February 9) and Frida, a 1991 opera by Robert Xavier Rodriguez about the life of artist Frida Kahlo (March 16-31). The season concludes with Massenet’s Werther (April 27-May 11).

Kirsten Chambers sings the title role in Florida Grand Opera’s Salome 8 p.m. Friday at the Arsht Center in Miami and 7:30 p.m. February 10 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.  Melody Moore sings the role 8 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday at the Arsht Center and 7:30 p.m. February 8 at the Broward Center. fgo.org800-741-1010.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “FGO’s second-cast soprano makes a first-class Salome”

  1. Posted Jan 30, 2018 at 2:05 pm by Gil Fernandez

    After I saw both sopranos in youtube, I knew that the best performer was going to be Kristen Chambers. As Mr. Budman suggests I wonder how FGO did not cast Ms. Chambers for the opening night. Anyways, it is not the first time that 2nd cast title role is much better than 1st.

    Gil Fernandez

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Mon Jan 29, 2018
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