Ivo van Hove's Salome for the Dutch National Opera is in almost everything Konwitschny's opposite, although he gives, like Konwitschny, Jochanaan and Salome an intimate moment together. During the dance with the seven veils we see them dancing (in a video projection - Salome's mind). It stands in stark contrast to the misogynic reli-fundamentalist outbursts that the libretto Jochanaan further provides.
A few years ago, the tattoos of Evgeny Nikitin (a drummer in a punk band before he converted to opera), were the centre of a scandal in Bayreuth (in his teenage years there was a tattoo on his chest that showed some similarities with a swastika - it meant his farewell from the Festspielhaus). Besides his full-tatooed body, which conflicts with the ivory white skin from the libretto, his voice for Jochanan's role was perhaps a bit too light (it can be annoying, boosting about a glorious past when it comes to art in the present time, but I share this clip of Hans Hotter nevertheless).
The only opera direction I saw from Ivo van Hove, before this Salome, was Der Schätzgraber of Franz Schreker, a production in which ugly scenery and stiff Personenregie stood diametrically on Schreker's sumptuous, lyrical music. With this Salome, Van Hove largely revolves for that failure, although it was not after watching it on a big screen that I became fully aware of that. Initially, this Van Hove production also seemed to be in lack of a good Personenregie. In the theater, on a big stage, the characters can look lost, amidst of everyone who don’t add anything to the drama. On the big screen, with its advantage of close-ups and a smart zooming camera, everything that added nothing to the action and dialogue was cut out of the picture and this production benefited considerably from that. In the theater Byström was good, on the big screen she was nothing less than a revelation - I look forward to the DVD release. That this Salome at the end not only gets Jochanan's head but also the rest of his body feels like a true reward for her interpreter. It is an ending, intense as it should be, worthy of any scene The Walking Dead could come up with.
So my initial sceptism after the performance of June 12 - the general feeling that singers and musicians deserved better than this production - disappeared. Time to pay it another visit in the theater.