Naked Brunch

What we didn't get to see in HD

What we didn't get to see in HD

Salome: Review in brief, and in HD

So, C.C. stopped by BAM (a couple Saturday’s ago) to see Karita Mattila get naked in The Metropolitan Opera’s brunch-time simulcast of “Salome.” I mean, come on, that’s not the only reason we went to see it, but it was definitely a draw.

But lo and behold, as soon as Ms. Matilla’s dance of the seven veils–or, in this case, a Doug Varone choreographed dance of the non-sequitur pant suit–drew to its final unveiling, the camera cut to an awkward shot of Kim Begley (as Herod), and I was left with my proverbial dick in my hand.

Now, come on, you know C.C. doesn’t go that way, but we do go the way of adult entertainment, by which we mean, entertainment made with the essential maturity of an adult audience taken into account. But for The Met to leave out the nudity in a production that flaunts the nudity as a way to pique interest–not all sopranos make the choice to bare all, well, some can’t even lift their arms–illustrates the conflict at the heart of The Met’s bid to be a relevant player in the theater of popular entertainment. We see more snooch on South Park than what opera house patrons saw of Ms. Mattila on Saturday. For The Met to get demure when it comes to the simulcast only leaves the audience with blue balls, and, in effect, resenting the opera house.

Aside from the censorship, I found the account of the opera to be stirring. Ms. Mattila is a remarkable, if somewhat over-the-top performer. Well, let me qualify that.

Something that many know about the simulcasts is that sometimes devices that work well in a huge opera house become overexposed in the high definition and large-screen format of the movie theater. In this vein, Ms. Mattila’s foaming interpretation of Salome, wriggly and jiggly as it was, probably worked better in the cavernous opera house, but it was simply too much jelly for the silver screen to handle.

It will be interesting to see, as Anthony Tommasini proposed a while back, if The Met will begin to conceive of new productions with the HD format in mind. If so, and I don’t think it would be a bad idea, I only hope that they trust the simulcast audiences are mature enough (or maybe immature enough) to deserve as much full frontal as the those paying premium dollar for the velvet seats. Otherwise this sends the sign that, when it comes to nudity at The Met, you’ll only get it if you’re willing to pay for it.

That’s right. We called The Met a whore. We’re proud.

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