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Why the Met won't show Karita Mattila naked in the HD broadcast of 'Salome'

October 8, 2008 |  6:45 am

Mattila_2 Karita Mattila. Naked. Those three words have been on the mind of practically every New York opera fan for the last month as the Finnish soprano strips bare in the Metropolitan Opera's revival of "Salome" by Richard Strauss.

On Saturday, the company will broadcast the opera live in HD to movie theaters around the country. While those at the Met will see Mattila go full frontal during the Dance of the Seven Veils, those of us at the movies will see something, well, much more restrained.

"You'll see the camera pan away from her as she does the dance," a Met spokesman told Culture Monster. "Either it will pan discreetly away to the audience, or it will do a close-up of her face."

The decision not to show the nudity came from Met general manager Peter Gelb, who, the spokesman said, "decided early on that the 'Salome' broadcast would not feature nudity."

The spokesman added that the Met markets its HD broadcasts as family-friendly events and that Gelb and the creative team are treating the scene in a way that is sensitive to the artists while still being true to the original piece.

When asked about Mattila's input into the decision, the spokesman declined to comment for the record, but he did point out that video clips of the soprano performing nude have circulated on YouTube, though these scenes are from productions in Europe, not the Met's. (Culture Monster was able to find one such clip -- a scene from a Paris production of "Salome" in which Mattila flashes her buttocks.)

The Met's decision to censor its own production will undoubtedly disappoint fans who've wanted to see what all the fuss is about. In an interview with the Times last year, Mattila described the scene as her "slutty, two-second nude pose."

But the broadcast will still contain its share of debauched moments, including one in which Salome canoodles with the severed head of Jochanaan -- the John the Baptist character.

Those who absolutely have to see Mattila in the buff can check out former Met general manager Joseph Volpe's memoir "The Toughest Show on Earth," which features a photograph of the soprano in character as Salome, minus her seven veils.

For a list of L.A.-area theaters showing "Salome," click below ...

L.A.-area cinemas showing "Salome." All show times are 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, only. To buy tickets, visit Fathom Events.

Los Angeles County
The Bridge, 6081 Center Drive, Los Angeles
Century City 15, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
Burbank 16, 125 E. Palm Ave., Burbank
Promenade 16, 21801 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills
Santa Anita, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia
Puente Hills 20, 1560 S. Azusa Ave., Rowland Heights
Alhambra Renaissance 14, 1 E. Main St., Alhambra
Valencia Stadium 12, 24435 Town Center Drive, Santa Clarita
Antelope Valley Mall, 1475 West Avenue P, Palmdale
Cinemark 22, 2600 W. Avenue I, Lancaster

Orange County
Huntington Beach 20, 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
Irvine Spectrum 20, 65 Fortune Drive, Irvine
Tustin Legacy 14, 2457 Park Ave., Tustin
Orange Stadium Promenade 25, 1701 W. Katella Ave., Orange

Riverside / San Bernardino / Ventura counties
Galleria at Tyler 16, 3775 Tyler St., Riverside
Ventura Stadium 16, 2875 Elba St., Ventura
Ontario Mills 30, 4529 Mills Circle, Ontario
Cinemark 16 Victorville, 14470 Bear Valley Road, Victorville

— David Ng

Photo: Marty Sohl / Associated Press

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