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There 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 these are out-of-print.
Outstanding 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 remarkable 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 of this music. I've also heard a superb performance by Julia Migines issued on LP many years ago; there also exists a pirate live recording of the complete opera from Geneva about the same time (1983) that is commendable. American soprano Susan B. Anthony offers a superbly sung performance on her 2001 Arte 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.
And, 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 recording—let 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. YOUTUBE WELITSCH 1951 SALOME
Karita Mattila (Salome); Joseph Kaiser (Narraboth); Juha Uusitalo (Jochanaan); Kim Begley (Herod); Ildikó Komlósi (Herodias); Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Chorus and Orch/Patrick Summers, cond.
METROPOLITAN OPERA DVD 80663 TT: 1 hr. 46 min.
Teresa Stratas (Salome); Astrid Varnay (Herodias); Bernd Weikl (Jochanaan); Hans Beirer (Herodes); Wieslaw Ochman (Narraboth); Hanna Schwarz (Page); Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Karl Böhm, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMOPHON DVD VIDEO 00440 073 4339 TT: 101 min.
Nadja Michael (Salome); Peter Brender (Herodes); Iris Vermillion (Herodias); Falk Struckmann (Jochanaan); Matthias Klink (Narraboth); Natela Nicoli (Page); La Scala Orch/Daniel Harding, cond.
TDK DVDVIDEO DVWW-OPSALOME TT: 108 min.
Nadja Michael (Salome); Thomas Moser (Herodes); Michaela Schuster (Herodias); Michael Volle (Jochanaan); Joseph Kaiser (Narraboth); Daniela Sindram (Page); Royal Opera House Orch/Philippe Jordan, cond
OPUS ARTE DVD VIDEO OA 0996 TT: 118 min + 51 min. documentary
All of these have been covered on this site: Mattila (REVIEW), Stratas (REVIEW), Michael La Scala (REVIEW), Michael Royal Opera (REVIEW). It is unfortunate Mattila and Michael weren't featured in productions that respected what Strauss wrote. Of the four in this grouping, surely the Stratas is the one to own.
Angela Denoke (Salome); Doris Soffel (Herodias); Kim Begley (Herodes); Alan Held (Jochanaan); Marcel Reijans (Narraboth); Jurgita Adamonyté (Page); Berlin German Orch/Stefan Soltesz, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD TT: 112 min.
Catherine Malfitano (Salome); Bryn Terfel (Jochanaan); Kenneth Riegel (Herod); Anja Silja (Herodias); Robert Gambill (Narraboth); Royal Opera House Orch/Christoph von Dohnanyi
DECCA DVD B 074105 TT: l:49
Catherine Malfitano (Salome); Leonie Rysanek (Klytämnestra); Simon Estes (Jochabnaan); Horst Heistermann (Narraboth); Berlin German Opera/Giuseppe Sinopoli, cond.
KULTUR VIDEO DVD 2851 TT: 109 min.
Maria Ewing (Salome); Michael Devlin (Jochanaan); Kenneth Riegel (*Herod); Gillian Knight (Herodias); Robin Leggate (Narraboth); Royal Opera House Orch/Edward Downes, cond.
KULTUR DVD VIDEO D 1494 TT: 103 min.
The Denoke video has been mentioned on this site ( REVIEW).
Of the two DVDs featuring Catherine Malfitano, the first surely is the best. She is a fine actress, presents an attractive figure and briefly shows all at the end of the Dance—but her voice is not suited for the role. I find it surprising that Opera Monthly in December 1991 reported Ljuba Welitsch told Malfitano "she was the best Salome." Welitsch was very kind! Supporting casts in both videos are superb, as are video and audio. There is a CD available of the later interpretation, mentioned earlier in this feature.
Detroit-born (1950) Maria Ewing has enjoyed a distinguished career in a wide variety of roles that include Mozart, Debussy, Bizet, Berg, and Shostakovich. She is best-known for her portrayal of Salome, which can be viewed on this DVD in a production from the Royal Opera House designed by John Bury and directed by Peter Hall, who at the time was married to Ewing. This is a sensible, beautiful and sensitive presentation by all concerned, and the supporting cast is outstanding. Visually, Ewing is effective and her acting is responsive to the changing moods of the doomed princess. Her mouth is very large and we see much of it; the video director should not have exposed her to such scrutiny. And speaking of exposure, Ewing does a marvelous Dance, and at the end is totally nude before she tosses herself at Herod's feet. Unfortunately, Ewing's voice is severely taxed by the role of Salome. There are some effective moments, but this is not her role. Video is OK but not special, audio adequate stereo, but should have been better. DVD documentation is minimal, and refers to unidentified "special features" that don't seem to be on the disk. It would have been fascinating to see Mattila and Michael in productions that respected the composer's masterpiece, but so be it.
Montserrat Caballé (Salome); Horst Heistermann (Herod); Vera Baniewicz (Herodias); Bodo Brinkmann (Jokanaan); Hans Sojer (Narraboth); Liceu Grand Opera Orch/Uwe Mund, cond.
PREMIERE OPERA DVD 5365
Erika Sunnegardh (Salome). Mark S. Doss (Jochanaaan). Robert Brubaker (Herod). Dalia Schaechter (Herodias). Mark Milofer (Narraboth). Nora Sourouzian (Page). Teatro Commnale di Bologna Orch/ Nicola Luisaoffi, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD TT: 109 min.
The role of Salome was a favorite of Montserrat Caballé, but visually she hardly represents the image of an attractive teenager. In this 1988 production from Liceo the problem is solved by a double cast—one singing, the other acting and dancing. The conductor is Uwe Mund, who is adequate but little more. Aside from Caballé, the singing is pretty bad. Hiestermann, Baniewicz and Brinkmann have uneven vocal production and are unable to sustain notes. However, the dancers are superb, particularly Darie Cardyn as Salome, an exquisite young lady indeed who performs the infamous Dance of the Seven Veils with unmitigated passion (she uses no veils as she dances; a slave instead holds the veils one by one in front of Herod who rips each in half). For most of the opera, Caballé appears on top of what seems to be a pile of rocks with her flowing gown covering most of it. Only before the final scene does she dismount, so to speak, and at one point she loses her balance but manages to get up. In the final minutes, she pounds on the plate on which Jokanaan's head is placed, breaking the plate, which seems rather odd. And at the end she is not crushed to death, another oddity in the staging/production. This Spanish TV presentation has subtitles in that language—and they are not optional. Picture quality is hazy, but good enough to convey the performance. Sound is unexceptional but good enough to let us hear what's going on. I found this to be a remarkable concept for the opera; it's unfortunate the singing, aside from Caballé, isn't better, but those who like this opera surely must investigate this video issue. It is available only from http://www.premiereopera.com
Many pirate, off-air performances of Salome are available. Many can be found on PREMIERE OPERA Approach with caution—many of them are updated productions that insult both the composer and the viewer, and video/audio quality often is poor. But there are many gems including a remarkable 1980 Tokyo performance by the Vienna State Opera conductred by Heinrich Hollreiser on tour in Japan in 1980. Video is awful, audio OK, there are subtitles in Japanese and there are no tracks—but this is apparetly the only video extant of Rysanek in this role.
After her sensational Met debut as Salome in 1949, Ljuba Welitsch went to famed photographer Philippe Halsmanfor a series of publicity photos. On the left above is a picture taken when she first arrived in the studio, doubtlessthe only photo of Salome in a fur coat and cap holding the head of John the Baptist. The right photo shows Welitschwearing an elaborate cape that she probably never wore in performance. It would have been fascinating to be at thosephoto sessions. Halsman had a great sense of humor, had worked with Salvador Dali, and doubtless his name came up as Welitsch had starred in the British production of Salome Deli had designed. Halsman's sense of humor also can be experienced by viewing his famous 1959 Jump Book in which he photographed many celebrities (including then President Richard Nixon) jumping. A great book by a master photographer!