I’m just back from being in the audience for a live event that featured Stefan Herheim, in Oslo, and Atom Egoyan, in Toronto, discussing and answering questions about their respective productions of Strauss’ Salome. It was set up with a live satellite link between the two cities which worked rather well. The event also featured two rather dry academic presentations about the productions and productions of Salome in general. This bit went on for nearly an hour and a half and reminded me of why one takes notes at university. It’s because if you don’t this stuff goes in one ear and out the other.
Herheim and Egoyan are an interesting contrast. Egoyan comes off as quite analytical. He answers questions in a fairly direct way and he explains his production and process ideas quite clearly. Herheim seems much more intuitive. He’ll fasten onto one aspect of a question and answer it in a way that sometimes seems tangential to the issue but is actually central to it from his perspective. I suspect he finds it much easier to explain things visually than verbally. Both directors had clearly rooted their (very different) interpretations in the music and in Wilde’s text rather than the German libretto. Herheim also looked pretty hard at the Biblical roots of the piece. He seems to be one of those non-religious people who is fascinated by religion and its symbolism though it’s difficult to figure out his views on an issue like that because of his discursive and allusive way of speaking.
The whole thing is now up on the Norwegian Opera and Ballet site (The good stuff starts at the 1:14:15 mark):