This San Francissco Salome is not my favourite of Strauss' opera, that's the 1975 film with Stratas, Weikl and Varnay, followed by the Malfitano and Estes and Ewing and Devlin performances. But it is very good indeed, with the orchestral playing powerful and soaring, the woodwind section are especially good, while giving the principals ample space to be heard at all times and the conducting from Luisotti, in his first time conducting the opera, suitably commanding. The costumes and sets are simple but effective, while the staging doesn't fall into the trap of embarrassing the principals with a fascinating Dance of the Seven Veils with large textiles and two ballet dancers helping Salome to pose and dance with them. The principal singing is largely wonderful. Kim Begley seems more comfortable than he did before in the role of Herod, I found him stiff and strained before but more so much here. Plus Herod does seem to be in a fit of ecstasy at the end of Dance of the Seven Veils. Irina Mishura is an appropriately icy Herodias, not on the same level as Varnay and Rysanek, but still making a positive impression. Garett Sorenson is a wonderful Naraboth, tortured and authoritative. Greer Grimsley's Jokhanaan, the stern voice of morality, is very compelling, alarming in appearance, virile of voice and truly searing in stage presence. And here we come to the Salome of Nadja Michael. I do worry about Michael taking on too many heavy roles too early and her tone is more a lyric spinto quality rather than a dramatic one, but I still found her sensational in the role, she is a very committed actress and vocally she is far more appealing than she was in the recent ROH performance, not as tinny or as under-pitch. All in all, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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