Salome is one of Strauss' finest operas alongside Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra and Ariadne Auf Naxos. It is ceaselessly compelling with typically amazing music. And this 1990 Deutsch Oper Berlin performance positively soars, one of the better productions I've seen alongside the Stratas film and the Maria Ewing production. The sets and costumes were more beautiful in the Stratas film, but they are still atmospheric and fit very well with the opera's tone. The quality of the music performance is just outstanding. The orchestral playing is incredibly powerful with the flute and oboe really embodying the character of Dance of the Seven Veils, and Giuseppe Sinopoli's conducting is full of authority. Dance of the Seven Veils is danced and performed with just the right amount of eroticism by Catherine Malfitano, who throws herself into the punishing role of Salome and right up to the ending is incredibly thrilling in the role with a powerful voice and a stage presence that is never less than commanding. Simon Estes is alongside Bryn Terfel and Bernd Weikl as the most compelling Jokhanaan on DVD, regal and stern and managing to find meaning with the Baptist's wise words. Horst Hiestermann's Herod is suitably lecherous and you can see that he is obsessed with Salome; I also liked the rapid staccato that he tackles his vocal line with. The Herodias of Leonie Rysanek is equally monstrously decadent, a distinction I usually reserve for Klytamnestra but the icy demeanour of Rysanek's acting helps for that distinction to apply here. All in all, a Salome that positively soars, one of the finest versions available. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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