Strauss's Salome may
seem quite tame by today's standards, but it stunned the musical world
at the premiere December 9, 1905. The princess's lust for John the
Baptist, combined with Strauss's sensuous music, the spectacle of Salome
her infamous "Dance of the
Seven Veils," then demanding the head of the Baptist as reward, was
shocking, moral debasement. When in the final scene, to Strauss'
most sensuous music, Salome kisses the severed head of the Baptist
in a spasm
of unrequited passion, it was the final straw, scandalizing audiences
as well as censors. However the opera since has enjoyed great
success with audiences and
now is standard repertory.
Salome requires a mammoth
orchestra including 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 harps, about
60 strings, rows of woodwinds, plus cameo appearances by harmonium
and organ, although Strauss later on approved of a version with reduced
orchestra for smaller opera houses. According to him, Salome should
be sung by "a 16-year old princess with the voice of an Isolde," an
impossible requirement. The role is taxing in the extreme with a relentlessly
high tessitura, and while there are no high C's, there are many
B-flats and B's, as well as two G-flats below middle C! Salome has
always attracted sopranos: what woman wouldn't like to be identified
with the role of a beautiful young virgin?
Marie Wittich was sang the premiere
in Dresden in 1905. She found the opera "distasteful
and obscene...I won't do it, I'm a decent woman." Wittich
allowed a ballerina to perform the infamous "Dance of the Seven
Veils" at the premiere but later insisted on doing it herself—
much to the embarrassment of Strauss, as Wittich was a large rather
Just two years after
the premiere, excerpts from Salome appeared on recordings. In
1907 bits and pieces were recorded acoustically by Rudolf Berger, Baptist
and Friedrich Brodersen all as Jochanaan, all on single-sided ten-inch
disks. Ernst Kraus, who was the first Berlin Herod, also recorded
two brief excerpts. Emmy Destinn, who sang the first Berlin Salome,
in 1907 recorded two short excerpts from Salome's apostrophe
to Jochanaan, and two years later Johanna Gadski recorded a 1:34 snippet. Göta
Ljungberg, after singing Salome at Covent Garden in 1924, made a truncated
recording of the finale and five years later recorded it again although
this time not as severely cut. Oddly, two brief orchestral excerpts
were recorded in 1933 conducted by Piero Coppola. Marjorie Lawrence
recorded the final scene in French in 1934, and in 1943 Liselotte
it in the original language. In 1948 Christel Goltz appeared
in a Dresden radio broadcast with Joseph Keilberth on the podium, recorded
the entire opera for Decca/London in 1954 with Clemens
Krauss conducting, and made her third recording in 1963 with Otmar
Suitner conducting. In
1952 Philips recorded a fine performance starring
Walburga Wegner with Rudolf Moralt with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra
on CD in Philips' Opera Collector Limited Edition
- 438 664). Since
that time there have been more about three dozen complete recordings,
both commercial and pirated, and currently (2012) DVDs with Teresa
Stratas, Maria Ewing, Karita Mattila, Angela Denoke, and two with Nadja
Michael—plus a number of pirate videos you can find on the internet.
COMPLETE RECORDINGS OF SALOME
Listed are recordings of the opera with label information at the time of
writing. Some of these have been deleted,
some reissued with different label
information. Check AMAZON and
the internet for current availability.
Studer (Salome); Leonie Rysanek (Herodias) Horst Heistermann
(Jochanaan); Clemens Bieber (Narraboth); Berlin Opera Orch/Giuseppe
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 431 810 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 42 min.
Cheryl Studer is in top
form on this DG recording -- highly impressive vocally and interpretively. Her
youthful sound and ease with the notes are commendable. Leonie
Rysanek's Herodias is perfection; how strange it must have seemed
to her singing the character of the mother of a character
she herself had sung with enormous success. Byrn Terfel's
Jochanaan is a model of masculine power, with Horst Heistermann
a fine Herod. Giuseppe Sinopoli's direction is sensuous
and assured if rather understated - from an orchestral standpoint
all is pristine if rather unexciting. The recording has a spacious
sound stage, with voices well-balanced.
(Salome); Agnes Baltsa (Herodias); Karl-Walter Böhm (Herod); José van
Dan (Jochanaan); Wieslaw Ochman (Narraboth); Vienna Philharmonic
Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
EMI 49358 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 45 min.
Given the manifold vocal
problems of Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009) in the final years
of her remarkable career, it
is refreshing to listen to her 1977 recording of Salome conducted
by Herbert von Karajan, recorded just before that year's Salzburg
Festival. At that time she was a shining star on the operatic
horizon, magnificent in every way, with beauty of tone and sufficient
power to sustain Karajan's leisurely tempi and be heard over
the masses of orchestral opulence. This EMI recording
has been reissued in the label's Great Recordings of the Century series
(67159). It surely should be in every Salome collection. An
aircheck of the 1977Salzburg broadcast is even more spectacular,
with better sound to boot. Now that some historic Salzburg
performances are being reissued perhaps this will be among them
-- we can hope.
Birgit Nilsson (Salome); Grace Hoffman (Herodias); Gerhard Stolze (Herod);
Eberhard Wachter (Jochanaan); Waldemar Kmentt (Narraboth); Vienna Philharmonic
Orch/Sir Georg Solti, cond.
LONDON 414 414 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 40 min.
Birgit Nilsson was famous
for her powerhouse Salome, and the 1961 recording with
Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic remains stunning, although
she's occasionally her pitch is suspect. When the grand Swedish
soprano sings Salome this is no teenage girl. Gerhard Stolze
is a manaical Herod, Grade Hoffman a strong Herodias, with vivid
Decca sonics. Nilsson's live recording of 1965 from the
Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, with Georges Sébastien conducting
and a strong supporting cast, shows the Swedish soprano at her
very best, in superb stereo sound as well.
Regina Resnik (Herodias); Sherrill Milnes (Jochanaan); Richard
Lewis (Herod); James King (Narraboth); London Symphony Orch/Erich
RCA 6644 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 41 min.
Salome was one of Caballe's
favorite roles, an unlikely choice considering her physical attributes
but she surely has the required vocal quality for the role. There
are no problems whatever with the notes, and her silvery, controlled
sound is near-perfect for the young Judean princess. Here
she is in her prime with a supporting cast that has not one weak
member. What a luxury to have Sherrill Milnes as the Baptist,
Regina Resnik in one of her superb "queen" roles. The
London Symphony is at its best under Erich Leinsdorf's keen direction. Recorded
in Walthamstow Hall in London in 1968, the set was engineered by
Robert Auger, a guarantee of sonic excellence, and produced by
Richard Mohr. Like most recordings of Salome, it
is now out-of-print. I'd surely like to hear it in a high-quality
Nielsen/Schonwandt, 1997 |
Welitsch/Reiner, 1949 |
Nielsen (Salome); Anja Silja (Herodias); Robert Hale (Jochanaan);
Goldberg (Herod); Deon van der Walt (Narraboth); Danish
National Radio Symphony Orch/Michael Schonwandt, cond.
CHANDOS 9611 (2 CDs) TT: l hr. 40 min.
This 1997 Salome is
of considerable interest because of the title-role performance
by Inga Nielsen, a young Danish soprano who appears regularly
at the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden and other
leading houses, as well as at festivals and on television.
She is an impressive Salome. Her sound is appropriately youthful,
she sings on pitch and develops characterization effectively.
This is, indeed, an impressive performance. It seems obvious
that Nielsen has studied Ljuba Welitsch's performance—although
her voice doesn't have the personality of the Bulgarian dynamo. Aside
from Nielsen, there is little to recommend
for the typical Chandos high quality sound. Reiner Goldberg's
Herod is unevenly sung, not as disturbing as Anja Silja's
Herodias. Silja was always an exciting if vocally deficient
Salome decades ago. It is true that Herodias is supposed
to be an unpleasant, shrewish character, but Silja's incredible
wobble is enough to, as they say, take the paint off the
ceiling. Other notable Salomes of the past have switched
from daughter to mother, notably Astrid Varnay and Leonie
Rysanek, but they never exhibited the vocal distress displayed
by Silja. Robert Hale's Jochanaan also is unsteady, far removed
from the richness and security of Bryn Terfel, Sherrill Milnes
and Eberhard Wachter in their recordings.
(Salome); Helene Jossoud (Herodias); José van Dam (Jochanaan);
Jean Dupouy (Herod); Jean-Luc Viala (Narraboth); Lyon Opera
Orch/Kent Nagano, cond.
VIRGIN CLASSICS VCD 791477 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 45 min.
Shortly after the German
premiere, Strauss prepared a French version of Salome,
necessitating a few changes in the music to accommodate Oscar
Wilde's original text. This was premiered in 1907, but subsequent
performances merely translated Hedwig Lachmann's German version
with no changes in the score. Virgin Classics has recorded
the original French version, and those who love the opera
will find it fascinating. The performance is adequate although
little more. Karen Hoffstodt's voice has neither the power
or the stamina the role demands, and is sometimes off-pitch.
Conductor Kent Nagano's concept of this volatile score is
tame and leisurely when it should be dynamic and propulsive,
and the live recording favors the voices. If you want to
hear Salome in French, or at least a part of it,
there's Marjorie Lawrence's superb 1934 recording of the
Ljuba Welitsch (Salome);
Kerstin Thorborg (Herodias); Herbert Janssen (Jochanaan);
Frederick Jagel (Herod); Brian Sullivan (Narraboth); Metropolitan
Opera Orch/Fritz Reiner (live Dec. 3, 1949)
GUILD 2230/31 (2 CDs) 2 hr. 36 min.
MELODRAM 27042 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 34 min.
Ljuba Welitsch (Salome);
Elisabeth Höngen (Herodias); Hans Hotter (Jochanaan);
Set Svanholm (Herod); Brian Sullivan (Narraboth); Metropolitan
Opera Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond. (live Jan. 10, 1952)
MYTO MCD 952.125 (2 CDs) TT: l hr. 32 min.
Two distinctive, historic
interpretations by the legendarty Bulgarian singer Ljuba
Welitsch (1913 -1996), one far superior to the other. The
1949 performance, recorded Welitsch's
finds her giving 110% all the way. The depraved/innocent
sound is ever apparent, the bold thrusts of sound defy the
score's difficulty. It is sad that Welitsch's voice had begun
its deterioration by 1952—however she still is mightily
impressive. In 1952 there sometimes is a chalky whiteness
to her sound; it's not as easy as beforeand in the
final scene she anticipates the beat on the words, "Ah!
Jokanaan, Jokanaan, du warst schön" (Ah! Jokanaan,
thou wert fair"), makes a fine recovery, and is a bit
off-pitch on "Ich habe ihn geküst, deinen
have kissed thy mouth"). Supporting casts in both
performances are strong and there is no question there is
a Strauss master—Fritz Reiner—on the podium. These
sets represent the finest sound quality I've ever heard for
both broadcasts. For the 1949 broadcast, best sound
is on the GUILD release, which also contains Puccini's Gianni
Schicchi from the same broadcst (REVIEW).
The 1949 set is filled with excerpts from the January 6,
1951 performance of Don Giovanni (also conducted by
Reiner) as well as excerpts from an Aida (conducted
by Emil Cooper) from March 11, 1950. The 1952 set offers
a more extensive sampling from the 1950 Aida. If you
have but one complete Welitsch Salome surely it should
be the 1949it is strange that considering the hundreds
of performances she gave of the opera during her all-too-brief
career more haven't shown up. We can hope!
Borkh/Keilberth, 1951 |
(Salome); Grace Hoffman (Herodias); Eberhard Waechter (Jochanaan);
Hans Hopf (Herod); Waldemar Kmentt (Narraboth); Vienna
State Opera Orch/Karl Bhm, cond. (live Dec. 22, 1972)
RCA 69430 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 37 min.
OPERA D'ORO OPD 1165 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 39 min.
December 22, 1972 was
a special occasion for the Vienna State Opera, the first
time their beloved Leonie Rysanek sang Richard Strauss' Salome. She
had just added it to her repertory, sang it in
Munich, Athens, and several times in New York at the
Metropolitan Opera in March of that year. I was fortunate
to be in the audience for the first of these Met performances,
March 6, and it was an unforgettable event. In addition
to Rysanek's stunning performance, that occasion was
special for me as prior to the performance I met and had
the opportunity to speak briefly with Ljuba Welitsch in the
Met lobby. Welitsch, the definitive Salome of the 40s and
early '50s, was in New York for cameo appearances as
the Duchess in Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. But
back to Rysanek. Her huge, secure voice filled the
Met as it did the Vienna State Opera on this recording. With
its predominantly high tessitura, the role of Salome
is ideal for Rysanek. One must stretch the imagination
to believe that all this sound emanates from a 16-year old
girl! She makes an attempt to scale down her voice during
her initial scenes, but after that it is an all-stops-out
performance, intense both dramatically and vocally. Just
before the final scene, as the head of John the Baptist appears,
there is a screamno way to tell if it is Salome or
Herodias, but it surely is effective. Rysanek leaves
out three notes in the final scene. The text reads, "Ah!
Ah! Jochanaan....du warst schön" with the first
exclamation a D# going up to an D, the second an F (beginning
at 5:31 in track 4). These notes are omitted in all of Rysaneks
recordings (all live), for whatever reason.
The Vienna State Opera
surrounded Rysanek with their finest. As an ensemble this
could not be bettered. The entire cast is splendid, and with
Karl Böhm in the pit we have an abundance of Straussian opulence,
the conductor doubtless grateful he had Rysanek rather than
Gwyneth Jones as he endured a year earlier in the Philips Hamburg recording. The Vienna recording was made in fine
stereo by Austrian Radio. Voices are a bit overly prominent
but to most opera lovers that might be a plus. Program
notes are in German, English and French with a synopsis of
the opera but no libretto. Opera d'Oro has released
the same performance at budget price with limited notes,
just about the same sound quality and with different trackings.
The HRE label has an all-Strauss CD of Rysanek which includes
the Salome finale which they identify as "Vienna
1971Ferdinand Leitner, cond." This could
not be true, as the new RCA set from December 1972 is the
first performance by the Vienna State Opera with the
famous soprano. Perhaps it was a touring opera company, or
the date is incorrect?
Eva Marton (Salome);
Brigitte Fassbaender (Herodias); Bernd Weikl (Jochanaan);
Heinz Zednik (Herod); Keith Lewis (Narraboth); Berlin Philharmonic
Orch/Zubin Mehta, cond. (rec. Nov. 1990)
SONY CLASSICAL S2K 46717
(2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 39 min.
Eva Marton's voice,
with its thick harsh edge, is not appropriate for Salome.
She attempts, with moderate success, to scale down her sound
in the first third of the opera - after that it's blast away. Never
is there any sensuous beauty, as there surely should be at
least in the final scene when she sings of her love for the
Baptist. Marton probably would have made a fine Herodias. Contributions
of the remainder of the cast are average at best, particularly
Weikl's lacklustre Jochanaan. The only reason to have
this recording is the Berlin Philharmonic, their only recording
of the opera. Consistently they play with remarkable
virtuosity under Mehta's impassioned leadership. Sony's
recording, produced by Steven Epstein and Grace K. Row and
engineered by Kevin Boutote, is superb. Currently the
set, like most recordings of the opera, is out-of-print.
Inge Borkh (Salome);
Irmgard Barth (Herodias); Hans Hotter (Jochanaan); Max Lorenz
(Herod); Lorenz Fehenberger (Narraboth); Bavarian State Orch/Joseph
Keilberth, cond. (live July 21, 1951)
ORFEO D'OR C 342 932 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 39 min.
Inge Borkh (Salome);
Blanche Thebom (Herodias); Mack Harrell (Jochanaan); Ramon
Vinay (Herod); Giulio Gari (Narraboth); Metropolitan Opera
Orch/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond.
ARKADIA CDMP 459.3 (3 Cds) (also includes Elektra and finale of Salome with
The Orfeo d'Or performance was recorded more than a half-century ago
in Munich, just two years after the composer's death and is of interest primarily
for the magnificent Jochanaan of Hans Hotter who had sung the role many times
with Strauss conducting. Inge Borkh's voice never was really right for Salome,
but she was a fine artist in command of the notes. She has plenty of power
and is on-pitch, but in the 1951 performance there is a rapid narrow vibrato
odd to hear. Despite laudatory comments in the CD notes, Keilberth's
Strauss isn't very exciting. The mono sound is superb except for overly-prominent
percussion. Producers have provided only eight tracks for the entire
opera. This is a forgettable Salome.
Things are quite different
in the Met broadcast of 1958. Borkh by this time had
her interpretation finalized and doubtless was inspired by
the dynamic conducting of Mitropoulos. The supporting
cast is quite superior to the 1951 performance, particularly
Blanche Thebom's Herodias and Mark Harrell's Jochanaan. This
was an exciting afternoon at the Met with well-balanced mono
broadcast sound. The 3-CD set also contains Borkh's
NYP/Mitropoulos Elektra from 1958, and another Salome (from
just before the "Dance of the Seven Veils" to the
conclusion) with Christel Goltz, Vinay and Thebom, Mitropoulos
conducting, a Met broadcast of 1955. This is a fascinating
Strauss set well worth owning in spite of production deficiencies
(Thebom and Harrell's names spelled incorrectly; Paul Schoeffler
is listed as Jochanaan in the 1955 Salome although
he of course doesn't sing in the music included on the CD). There
are eighteen tracks for Borkh's Salome. Borkh made
two recordings of the final scene—in 1955 with Fritz Reiner
and the Chicago Symphony, now reissued in RCA's "Living
Stereo" series, which has magnificent recorded sound
(three scenes from Elektra are also included on
this superb CD), and a year later with Josef Krips and the
Anja Silja (Salome); Astrid Varnay (Herodias); Eberhard Waechter
(Jochanaan); Gerhard Stolze (Herod); Fritz Wunderlich (Narraboth);
Vienna State Opera Orch/Zdenek Kosler (live Nov. 25, 1965)
MYTO MCD 001.212 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 39 min.
Anja Silja (b. April 7, 1940) was at
the beginning of her career when this was recorded. She had made her
debut (as Rosina in Barber of Seville) when only sixteen; in 1960
she made her Bayreuth debut as Senta in The Flying Dutchman remaining
closely associated with the Bayreuth Festival, her career doubtless greatly
assisted by her intimate relationship with Wieland Wagner. After his death
she switched to roles in which her fine acting skills helped overcome her
vocal deficiencies. Silja's voice, even early in her career, was rather ugly
with a piercing, whitish tone, often with a wobble and occasional off-pitch
singing, evident in this performance recorded in 1964 when she was only twenty-five.
No question her characterization is strong and that the performance, in Wieland
Wagner's stark black and white production, must have been quite exciting
visually. As the Baptist's head appears we hear Herodias screaming and Herod
sobbing hystericallya terrific theatre effect. However there is an
unintentionally comic effect at the climax of the opera. As Salome is being
crushed by the soldiers' shields she emits a high, piercing "EEEEK!" just
before the final chord. I find it quite funny.
Aside from Silja, this performance vocally
is outstanding, particularly the Narraboth of Fritz Wunderlich and Eberhard
Waechter's strong Jochanaan. Sound quality is first-rate. The
second CD is filled out with finales of Salome sung by Astrid Varnay
(1953), Inge Borkh (1952) and Ljuba Welitsch (1949). All are quite
superior to Silja.
Wegner (Salome); Georgine von Milinkovic (Herodias); Josef Metternich (Jochanaan);
(Herod); Waldemar Kmentt (Narraboth); Vienna Symphony )Orch/Rudolf Moralt,
PHILIPS 438 664 (2 CDs) TT: l hr. 35 min.
This is a fascinating recording. Walburga
Wegner (b.1913 in Germany) made her debut as a soprano in the title role
of Ariadne auf Naxos in 1946 and sang extensively in Vienna, Hamburg
and La Scala. At the Met she sang only one season (1951-52, Eva in Meistersinger,
Chrysothemis in Elektra). This Salome appears to be
her only commercial recording (there is a live 1948 performance of excerpts
from Fidelio available on Gephardt). Recorded in December 1952, this Salome is
highly effective. Wegner's controlled, light voice, perhaps with the assistance
of the microphones, conveys the character as, indeed, a young woman, something
most sopranos cannot achieve. The supporting cast is splendid; Szemere's
declaration in the final scene "Sie ist ein Ungeheuer" ("She
is monstrous") is superb. Philips mono recording is representative of
their rich sound of the era. Now out-of-print, this set was issued on CD
in the Philips Opera Collector Limited Edition.
Maria Cebotari (Salome); Elisabeth
Höngen (Herodias); Marko Ruthmüller (Jochanaan); Julius Patzak (Herod);
Karl Friedrich (Narraboth); Vienna State Opera Orch/Clemens Krauss, cond.
(live Covent Garden Sept. 30, 1947)
GEBHARDT JGCD 0011/2 TT: l hr. 40 min.
This is superb! Maria Cebotari (1910-1949)
was a famous singer of Mozart and Strauss during her tragically short lifetime,
highly regarded by her colleagues. Lisa della Casa said of her, "...I
was enthralled with her...she had a sort of gypsy-sounding voice, but very
cultivated, and a timbre that once heard was never forgotten. The personality
on the stage was there, but it was the instrument that counted...she had
an Italian approach, full of warmth, and yet under perfect control." On
this recording we have the Vienna State Opera's guest appearance at Covent
Gardenand they brought their best. Cebotari had the misfortune of singing
Salome at the same time as Ljuba Welitsch, but judging from what is heard
on this live recording she was magnificent in the role. Cebotari's attention
to high note values is extraordinarynothing is glossed over in this
dramatically convincing vocally assured performance. She is surrounded by
a splendid cast, particularly Hngen and Patzak (both identified in the skimpy
CD notes as singing the role of "Herodia"). This was six
years before Patzak recorded his famous more frantic conception of Herod
for Decca/London (also with the composer's close friend Clemens Krauss on
Sonic quality of this recording is
poor with much distortion. However, it is worth hearing for the superlative
performance. Cebotari's Salome finale can also be heard in a 1943
recording on a Preiser CD (with an oddbut effectivequiet ending
presumably the work of conductor Artur Rother), along with excerpts from Feuersnot,
Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne as well as the seldom-heard Taillefer (90222).
Montserrat Caballé (Salome);
Beverly Wolff (Herodias);Siegmund Nimsgern (Jochanaan);Karlheinz Thiemann
(Herod); Wieslaw Ochman (Narraboth); RAI Orch/Zubin Mehta, cond. (live
June 15, 1971)
OPERA D'ORO OPD 1311 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 35 min.
Recorded three years after the RCA set,
this finds CaballČ, after a somewhat tentative start, in fine form vocally.
No problems whatever with the notes, a convincing characterization and some
glorious outpouring of the Spanish soprano's distinctive sound. There
is much sensitivity in the final scene as Salome sings of her love for Jochannan,
more interpretive leeway than in her commercial recording. The remainder
of the cast is not up to her standard; the Italian Radio Orchestra is hard
pressed to meet Mehta's demands. There's a brief synopsis of the opera, no
information about any of the singersbut it is budget price and those
who enjoy Salome probably will wish to own it.
Nilsson (Salome); Grace Hoffman (Herodias); Eberhard
Wachter (Jochanaan); Fritz Uhl (Herod); Renato
Sassola (Narraboth); Colón Theater Orch/Sebastian
(live Sept. 21, 1965)
ORNAMENTI FE 117 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr. 33 min.
This is one
of a series of live recordings from Teatro Colón
of Buenos Aires which acoustically is considered
to be one of the finest opera halls of the world,
even though it is quite large (capacity about 4,000). The
Opera opened in 1908 and over the years has had
a brilliant history including performances conducted
by Toscanini, many complete Ring cycles,
first in 1922 with Weingartner, later with Klemperer,
Reiner and Wallberg; Sir Thomas Beecham also conducted
there often. Singers love to perform there including
Birgit Nilsson who appeared there many times. This
performance of Salome took place four years
after her famous Decca recording with Solti. She
is in better voice here than on the recording,
tossing off this difficult music with reckless
abandon and power. The entire cast is excellent
with Fritz Uhl's Herod outstanding (Nilsson had
recorded Isolde to Uhl's Tristan for Decca four
years earlier). Sound is superb in this live recordinghighly
Rysanek (Salome); Ruth Hesse (Herodias); Thomas
Stewart (Jochanaan); Jon Vickers (Herod); Horst
Laubenthal (Narraboth); French National Orch/Rudolf
Kempe, cond. (live July 14, 1974, Festival d'Orange)
GOLDEN MELODRAM GM 3.0047 (2 CDs) TT: 1
hr. 37 min.
performance from Rysanek, two years after the Vienna
State Opera live recording mentioned above. This
is her definitive recorded Salome as she
pours out an endless stream of spectacular, full-bodied
sound. It is quite magnificent. Again Rysanek is
surrounded by the best. Thomas Stewart's Jochanaan
is imperious, an imposing figure indeed, and what
a luxury to have Jon Vickers as Herod; no exaggerated
histrionics here, just a believable, desperate
monarch in an untenable situation. Kempe's Strauss
may not be as dynamic as Reiner's or Mitroupoulous's,
but it is totally satisfying. The French orchestra
has a hefty Germanic sound under his baton and
they play superbly. The stereo sound is fine, capturing
Rysanek's huge voice to perfection. She occasionally
seems a bit off mike; Narraboth as well is sometimes
too distant, but these are minor reservations.
Seventeen tracks are provided, no libretto.
Goltz (Salome); Inger KarČn (Herodias); Josef
Herrmann (Jochanaan); Bernd Aldenhoff (Herodes);
Rudolf Dittrich (Narraboth); Dresden State Orch/Joseph
Keilberth, cond. (rec. 1948)
BERLIN CLASSICS BC 2062 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr.
(1912-2008) made three commercial recordings
of Salome I
know of; this is her firstand finest. Her
voice became more steely as she aged; here she
is quite believable as the teen-age princess and
at the height of her vocal powers. This surely
is preferable to her 1964 recording also from Dresden,
with Otmar Suitner on the podium (available on
Berlin Classics 0091012BC), which
orchestrally is superb, as is the supporting cast.
Suitner didn't conduct the earlier recording; Keilberth
is quite staid. CD notes state that Goltz was "the
greatest Salome of the century," an overstatement
but there is no question that a Goltz performance
was an overall event as her understanding of the
role combined with her ideal figure must have created
a stunning impression (she always did her own dance
except at La Scala when Karajan insisted it be
performed by a ballerina). The set includes a fascinating
interview with the Goltz in which she mentions
that in 1950 she sang Salome in Vienna with great
success "to the chagrin of Ljuba Welitsch,
a phenomenal Salome in her own right, but of a
very different kind." And Welitsch was, indeed,
"of a very different kind." The many vocal defects
in most later Goltz performances were not to be
heard. The only Goltz Salome that deserves a place
in a collection is the first.
Varnay (Salome); Margarete Klose (Herodias);
Hans Braun (Jochanaan); Julius Patzak (Herodes);
Hans Hopf (Narraboth; Bavarian Radio Orch/Hermann
Weigert, cond. (rec. June 1953)
ORFEO D'OR C 503 002 (2 CDs) TT: 1 hr.
BELLA VOCE 107.210 (2 CDs) (Also contains music from Elektra and Der
Rosenkavalier and Strauss songs sung by Varnay as well as Strauss
songs sung by Julius Patzak and Margarete Klose)
This is a
studio recording made during Varnay's finest years.
She had sung Salome for the first time in 1948
in Cincinnati and the next year, with Fritz Reiner
and the New York Philharmonic, sang the final scene.
Varnay was understudy for Welitsch at the Met that
year and sang the role there for the first time
Jan. 26, 1950. After Salomes at Covent
Garden and Munich she switched to Elektra.
It could well be that this recording was her final
Salomeand she was excellent in the part,
scaling her voice down in an appropriate way although
her steely brilliance is more effective in Elektra than
in Salome. With her trim figure, Varnay
must have been quite stunning visually. Her
husband, Hermann Weigert, conducts in very subdued
fashion. Julius Patzak's Herod is not as maniacal
as in his Goltz/Krauss Decca recording
the following year. Otherwise it's a fine performance
in monophonic sound remarkably vivid for its time.
Orfeo d'Or offers 13 cuing tracks.
Voce issue at budget price offers 32 tracks
for Salome as
well as 12 bonus tracks: Varnay in excerpts
from Elektra and Rosenkavalier plus
two lieder, as well as six Strauss songs sung by
Patzak with Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss
conducting, concluding with Geduld, Op.
10 No. 5 sung by Margarete Klose. Quite a
fascinating bonus, indeed! Some treasures here!
(Salome); Sigrid Kehl (Herodias); Heiner Horn (Jochanaan);
Niels Mller (Herod); RenË Kollo (Narraboth); Orch.
of Gran Teatro La Fenice/ Heinz Wallberg, cond. (rec.
live Feb, 1969).
MUSICA MFOH 10121 (2 CDs) 1 hr. 33 min.
is a live performance from Venice Feb.
15, 1969. Paula Bukovac has a somewhat
youthful sound but sings with reckless
abandon, slides into some high notes and
there is little in her performance that
commands positive attention. I've never
heard of Bukovac before but a quick check
on the internet shows she sang in the 1984
world premiere recording of Franz Hummel's
opera König Ubu. The remainder
of the cast for this Salome is adequate
at best, orchestral playing tentative,
Wallberg's conducting prosaic. Engineering
is oddduring the final scene one
can hear every last note played on the
xylophone. The producers have provided
no tracks whateverif you're looking
for a favorite section you'll have to fast
forwardbut considering the performance,
it matters not. There are only a few seconds
of applause included at the end, appropriately
decidedly unenthusiastic.Don't even think
about getting this!
Jones (Salome); Mignon Dunn (Herodias);
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Jochanaan);
Richard Cassilly (Herod); Wieslaw Ochmann
(Narraboth); Hamburg State Opera Orch/Karl
445 319 (2 CDs) 1 hr. 37 min. (rec. 1971)
supposedly is the first commercial "live" recording
of Salome but actually it is taken
from rehearsals as well as the live performance
November 4, 1970. Gwyneth Jones, even this
early in her career, had an edgy, squally
voice (that got much worse as the years
progressed); in this recording she is in
better shape vocally in the first half
of the opera than she is in the second.
Dramatically she makes many points, but
she is not easy on the ears. Fischer-Dieskau
is miscast as Jochanaan; the remainder
of the cast is fine. Böhm is surprisingly
subdued in this reading, quite removed
from the intensity of his live Vienna performance
two years later with Rysanek (see above).
Sonic quality is finebut with Jones
in the title role there is little point
to own this recording. The most commendable
feature of this set is that there are 32
tracks. Here is yet another unmemorable Salome.
Malfitano (Salome); Hanna Schwarz (Herodias);
Byrn Terfel (Jochanaan); Kenneth Riegel
(Herod); Kim Begley (Narraboth; Vienna
Philharmonic Orch/Christoph von Dohnányi,
LONDON 444 178 (2 CDs) (F) (DDD) TT: 1
hr. 40 min.
recording has a lot going for it. Recorded
in the "large hall" of the Vienna
Concert House April 11-18, 1994, with producers
Michael Woolcock and Christopher Pope and
engineers James Lock and Jonathan Stokes,
it gives listeners an incredibly detailed
sonic picture of the VPO. Never before
have I heard so much of the score, doubtless
because in addition to the superb engineering,
Dohnányi's balancing of orchestral
textures is impeccable. Missing are passion
and drive found in this music by Reiner,
Solti, and Mitropoulos. Kenneth Riegel's
Herod is remarkable and he is well-matched
by Hanna Schwarz, a less-squally Herodias
than usual. Bryn Terfel's Jochanaan is
even better than his 1990 performance in
the Sinopoli set (see above); a more magisterial,
sensitive Baptist is not to be heard on
records. Malfitano's Salome is an acquired
taste. She has all of the notes but
a tendency towards shrillness; still she
is superior to many others in the role. There
also are two videos of her performance
in which she bares almost all. .
Norman (Salome); Kerstin Witt (Herodias);
James Morris (Jochanaan); Walter Raffeiner
(Herod); Richard Leech (Narraboth); Dresden
State Opera Orch/Seiji Ozawa, cond.
PHILIPS 432 153 (2 CDs) (D) TT: 1
hr. 43 min.
Bullock (Salome); Sally Burgess (Herodias);
Jophn Graham-Hall (Herod); John Wegner
(Jokanaan); Andrew Rees (Narraboth);
Rebecca de Pont Davies (Page); Philharmonia
Orch/Sir Charles Mackerras, cond.
CHANDOS CHAN 3157(2 CDs) TT: 61:39 & 52:40
Norman is an unlikely choice for Salome,
but she turns out to be superb in the role.
Her careful attention to phrasing and detail
is very convincing, with a touch of coquetry,
and her demands for Jochanaan's head appropriately
increasing in fury. Norman's singing of
the second exclamation "Ah!" in
the final scene just before the words, "Jochanaan,
du warst schön" (Jochanaan, thou
wert fair!) is a desperately tragic, vulnerable
sound, an effect unmatched by any other
singer of the role. The highest notes aren't
always as free as we would like, but overall
this is a remarkable interpretation of
a role Norman never performed on the stage.
James Morris is a commanding Baptist, Walter
Raffeiner highly impressive as Herod:
the remainder of the cast admirable. Ozawa's
conducting is low-key, tempi are on the
leisurely side; even the "Dance of
the Seven Veils" doesn't generate
much excitement. From a sonic standpoint
this is one of the top achievements of
the late Volker Straus.
only reason to own this Chandos issue
is if you are curious to hear Salome sung
in English. British soprano Susan Bullock
is featured, a poor choice. Bullock's career
as a leading dramatic soprano of the era
seems to be flourishing, but judging from
this recording, one wonders why? .Her voice
is big with an uneveness of production
that hardly suggests the character of Salome;
she sounds matronly rather than girlish.
It doesn't matter if the supporting cast
is strong, the orchestra and conductor
totally up to their tasks, when the title
role is compromised.
Soloviy (Salome); Constantino Finucci (Jokanaan);
Leonardo Gramegna (Herode); Francesco Scaini
(Herodias); Vincenzo Maria Sarinelli (Narraboth;
Francsaca De Giorgi (Page); Orchestra Internazionale
d'Italia/Massimilliano Caldi, cond.
DYNAMICCDS 572/1-2 TT: 56:01 & 38:57
live recording of Salome was
made July 2007 at Palazzo Ducale, Martina
Sung in French, it features the young
Ukrainian soprano Sofia Soloviy in the
She seems to specialize in Mozart and Rossini,
but turns out to be a superb Salome, with
an appropriately youthful yet powerful
handles the demanding role.
Probably most of the other features singers
will be new to most collectors, but all
are outstanding, with the exception of
Also of interest is the young conductor
Massimiliano Caldi, currently principal
guest conductor of the Silesian Philharmonic.
He leads a dynamic performance—he is a
conductor to watch—and the orchestra
is superb. The stereo sound is satisfying,
and there are many stage sounds which,
in a way, add to the excitement. .Text
is provided in French
Salome (sung in Italian)
Lily Djanel (Salome). Tito Gobbi (Jochanaan).
Fiorenzo Tasso (Herodes). Maria Benedetti
(Herodias). Angelo Mercuyriali (Narraboth).
Maria TGeresa Massa-Ferraro (Page). Torino
RAI Orch/Nino Sanzogno, cond.
MYTO 00301 (2 disks) TT: 51:51 & 77:59
soprano Lily Djanel (1909- ?) was famous
in France for her Salome and sang one performance
under the direction of the composer. She
made her Met debut in January 1942 in Carmen
with Sir Thomas Beecham conducting, singing
the role more than 30 times at the Met.
first Salome there was December
9, 1942 with George Szell making his Met
debut, the first of seven performances
of the opera. She also sang Giulietta in
Hoffmann seven times, Santuzza and Venus
one time each. Djanel is an impressive
Salome, and it is fascinating to hear the
sung in Italian. Another plus is a very
young Tito Gobbi as Jochanaan. Sanzogno
is a sensitive conductor, and audio quality
is sufficient to convey the performance.
Surely one of the most interesting Salomes!
A considerable bonus is music of Mozart,
Donizetti, Rossini, Mascagni, Cilea and
Verdi featuring Tito Gobbi and soprano
Rosanna Carteri in a concert from Milan
December 24, 1956.Like Welitsch, Djanel
was chosen by Strauss for a performance of Salome, and she also sang
the role at the Met ; in 1942 she gave the first of six performances
(George Szell made his Met
debut on the occsion). Djanel made her Met debut as Carmen January
24, 1953 with Sir Thomas Beecham on the podium, which is available
on CD. The French soprano sang more than thirty performances
of Carmen, also appearing as Giulietta in Hoffman, and a single performance
of Venus in Tannhäuser (along with Lauritz Melchior and Helen
Traubel). Djanel was an attractive woman with, as one commenter mentioned, "a
non-operatic figure." Her voice is totally secure and free from
the stressed sound we hear so often on operatic stages today. Her
Salome is totally convincing and unique in that it is sung in Italian—and
what a pleasure it is to hear Tito Gobbi early in his career as Jochanaan.
Check out this intriguing issue.
Emily Magee (Salome). Peter Bronder (Herodes). Michaela Schuster (Herodias).
Wolfgang Koch (Jochanaan). Benjaniin Bruns (Narraboth). Claude Eichenberger
(Page). Frankfort Radio Symphony / Andres Orozco-Estrada, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186604 (2 disks) TT: 62:40 / 50:22
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON
This is an exciting new live recording of Strauss's masterpiece featuring American
soprano Eily Magee, one of today;'s leading interpreters of the denabdubg role.
Magee is a sensation in opera; about six yeard ago she was choesen by Sir Simon
Rattle to star in a concert performance of Salome. You can see excerpts from
it on YouTube. Now we have this live performance September 10, 2016 at Akta
Opera Frankfort. Young conductor Andrés Oroco-Estrada is at his best
in repertory like this, and the fine engineering captures all of the shimmering
Strauss's score. It is unfortunate that Peter Bronder was cast as Herod. Hero
is indeed a despicable creature, but the singer interpreting the role should
convey his nobility, hard to do when your voice is as qyaverty as Bronder's.
Still, this is a major performance of ?Salome, well worth inclusion in any
collecion. A complete libretto is providedif you ae interested in this opera,
our feature discussing all recordings of it (FEATURE) also the special feature
about Ljuba Welitsch, he definitive Salome (FEATURE).
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recording to get?
of great importance,
particularly those by Leonie Rysanek live
from the Vienna State Opera, and Hildegard
Behrens with Karajan recorded just before
the 1977 Salzburg Festival. And of course
live category is where we find the
true treasures, particularly the 1949 Ljuba
Welitsch Met performance, the Birgit Nilsson
Buenos Aires of 1965, and Rysanek's blazing
1974 French Festival performance. And
there are many "pirate" recordings.
And be sure to check the DVD versions listed
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have been many recordings of the final
scene from Salome (occasionally
abbreviated), including some by sopranos
who recorded the entire opera. Most recordings
of the final scene omit the brief passages
for Herod and Herodias just before the
conclusion; a few begin with the brief
interlude as Salome hovers over the cistern
awaiting her prize. Here are most of the
recordings of the "final scene." Many
of theseare out-of-print.
B. Anthony, rec. 2001 (Slovak
RSO/Anguélov) (Arte Nova 86894)
Bairstow, rec. 1989 (Scottish Opera Orch/Mauceri)
Borkh, rec.1955 (Chicago
SO/Reiner) (RCA 68636)
Borkh, rec.1956 (Vienna PO/Krips)
(Preiser 90302)(also included in Vol.
IV of London's Great Voices of the Past
series - 448 153)
Christine Brewer, rec.
2010 (Atlanta Symphony Orch/ Runnicles) (Telarc 31755)
Caballé, rec. 1977 (French
National O/Bernstein) (DGG 431 171)
Cebotari, rec. 1944 ) (Berlin Radio
Symphony O/ Rother) (Preiser 90222)
Curtin, rec. live1968 (no orch/cond.
ID) (Vai Audio VAIA
Destinn, two excerpts (1:45 & 2:00)
rec. 1907 (Symposium 1283)
Eaglen, rec. 1997 (Israel PO/Mehta)
(Sony Classical SK 60042)
Enck, rec. 1943 (Berlin State Opera
Orch/ Heger) (Preiser 89950)
Gadski, 1:34 excerpt, rec. 1908 (Victor
Orch/no conductor ID) (Club "99" 109)
Kemp, abbreviated (7:57), rec. 1921
(Berlin State Opera Orch/ Blech) (Preiser 89056)
Lawrence (in French), rec.
1934 (Pasdeloup Concert Orch/Piero Coppola)
Ljungberg, abbreviated (8:22), rec. 1929 (Berlin
State Opera Orch/Blech) ) (Pearl 9257)
Marc, rec.2000? (NDR-Sinfonieorchester
Hamburg/Runnicles) (Apex 0927
Nyland, rec. 2011 (Tampere SO/Lintu) (Ondine 1168)
Pauly, rec. live 1937 (NY Phil/Rodzinski) (Eklipse 40)
Price, Boston SO/Leinsdorf (rec.1973)
Rysanek, rec. live Vienna 1971 (Orch/Leitner)
Schulz, 34 min. of excerpts from
two 1942 performances at the Vienna State
Opera with Strauss conducting (Koch Schwaan
Silja, rec. 1972 (Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Dohnanyi)
Stemme, rec. 2008. (Royal Opera House Orch/Pappano)
Varady, rec. 1999, Bamberg SO/Fischer-Dieskau
(Orfeo C 511 991).
Voight, rerc. 2003 (Bavarian Radio Symphony
Orch/Armstrong) (EMI 67581)
Welitsch, rec. 1949 (Met. Opera O/Reiner)
(Sony Classical MH2K
62866) (Preiser 90476)
Welitsch, rec. live 1943 (Austrian
Radio O/Matacic) (EMI CDH 610072)
Welitsch, rec. 1948 (Vienna PO/Karajan)
(incomplete) (EMI 66394).
Welitsch, rec. 1951 (Vienna
PO/Krauss) (incomplete) (YOUTUBE)
among these are the acoustic snippets by
Gadski and Destinn, the superb recordings
by Barbara Kemp, Göta Ljungberg and
Liselotte Enck (all truncated), and the
French version with Marjorie Lawrence.
Rose Pauly and Maria Cebotari are splendid.
Of course the Else Schulz 1942 excerpts
from a Vienna State Opera performance with
Strauss conducting are of prime importance. Phyllis
Curtin's live 1968 recording is of great
interest (she was a superb interpreter
of the role, and looked the part), as is
Leontyne Price's studio recording of music
she often sang at concerts but never
on stage. Of current sopranos, most impressive
are Christine Brewer and Nina Stemme both
of whom have big flexible voices that can
negotiate the music.
Deborah Voight's 2003 recording is admirable;
her current performances disappoint.
Julia Varady and ,Josephine Bairstow,
will be remembered for their interpretations
this music. I've
also heard a superb performance by
issued on LP many years ago; there also
exists a pirate live recording of the complete
Geneva about the same time (1983) that
is commendable. American soprano Susan
B. Anthony offers a superbly sung performance
on her 2001Arte Nova issue.
And, of course, the Ljuba Welitsch recordings
are valuable—she was the definitive
Salome. It is unfortunate that the 1948
Karajan recording is not complete—one
of the 4 78 rpm disks apparently was broken,
but we should be thankful for what we have.
saving the very best for last, the operatic
world is indebted to "alvianosalvago" who
has uploaded on YouTube the finest performance
you will ever hear of the final 10 minutes
of the opera, with Welitsch, the Vienna
Philharmonic and Clemans Krauss. The tempo
is slow, bringing out all of the erotic
sensuousness of the score, and Welitsch
is SPECTACULAR. This seems to be from a
live studio broadcast recordinglet
us hope the entire performance will eventually
appear. In the meantime, don't miss it.
It is audio only in quite good sound, and
on-screen we see several photos of Welitsch
as Salome. YOU
TUBE WELITSCH 1951 SALOME
SALOME ON DVD