Starting the New Year with Salome

I always like to start the New Year off by playing one of my favourite operas, perhaps my favorite overall, Richard Strauss' Salome.  This year I was on the search for something different and came across this extraordinary live recording from l'Orange in 1974, conducted by Rudolph Kempe.

It is fabulous for a number of reasons, the first being the cast, one of the best from the time, possibly ever.  

For starters there is Leonie Rysanek sailing effortlessly and intensely through what is arguably her most famous role.  I have owned the only ever 'official' commercial recording of Salome with Rysanek (Karl Bohm and Wiener Staatsoper, 1970, RCA) for years and loved it, but this, as a friend put it, is "fucking marvelous!" 

Thomas Stewart is a golden Jokanaan, bringing Wagnerian heft to the role and Ruth Hesse is perfect as the waspish Herodias.

The finest performance here though comes from Jon Vickers, in a role I knew he'd sung - Herod - but had no idea of the existence of a recording.  I have to say that his assumption of the role is unforgettable, finding a lyricism and vocal line that few others have ever equaled, while maintaining a sense of hysteria and intensity unrivaled.

Given the year and recording conditions, the sound in this live recording from l'Orange in 1974 is in remarkably good stereo.  Have a listen to the complete recording below or head to this link for a download.  Enjoy this highly memorable performance.

#Salome #Opera #RStrauss #LeonieRysanek #JonVickers