Salome - the finest filmed performance ever...
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This is one of the best opera films ever made.
The production in the traditional idiom is superb and every nuance of the music has been so well married into the action it is almost impossible to imagine it portrayed any other way.
So inspired is the direction you could almost be forgiven for wondering what came first- the action or the music? Clearly it is one of those all too rare events where the Director (Gotz Friedrich) and the Composer (Richard Strauss), seem to have been in each other's heads - an all too rare event in this time of reggie productions and directorial self-grandisement.
The cast is superb with Hans Beirer as Herod serving up just the right amount of debauchery without resorting to over the top camp. The late, great dramatic soprano, Astrid Varnay (once recognised as one of the greatest Wagnerian soprano's of the twentieth century) revels in the part of the old Herodias and as Jochhanaan, Bernd Weikl is wonderfully authoritative serving up some of the most expressive bass-baritonal singing you will ever hear.
As Salome, Teresa Stratas was at the height of her powers. Filmed years before the Franco Zefferelli "La Traviata" where she sang Violetta opposite Placido Domingo, she was always touted as a great singing actress- and here you can see why.
In the beginning she looks like an innocent girl in a bejewelled skull cap - but on the road to madness with some wildly appropriate takes along the way, including a superbly directed "Dance of the Seven Veils" she physically morphs into the demonic before your eyes!
While nothing is spared and the debauchery and outrageous is all there to see, the presentation is of such quality that one will only see what one is attuned to seeing- the uninitiated will not be offended.
Made as a film and not a filmed performance- this presentation is simply a treat for all opera lovers as well as fans of R Strauss. It is a must have in any opera lover's collection.