Strauss: Salome - Silja, Mödl, Mazura, Mackee, Esser; Sebastian. Genève, 1966
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Despite the success of Salome, Richard Strauss was never fully satisfied with the casting of the title role as it requires a soprano with enormous vocal weight and an actress who can convincingly convey a virginal princess. He even pleaded with Elisabeth Schumann to sing the part promising to rescore the orchestration so that she could be heard. She ultimately declined. That said, it is too bad that he did not live long enough to hear Anja Silja in the title role as she comes pretty close to ideal. In 1967 she was still in her twenties, but despite her youth she had an instrument that could make mincemeat of Strauss' orchestra all while maintaining purity of tone. From her opening lines one can sense that Silja's Salome is one who is just coming to turns with her nascent sexuality while trying to hold on to her already tenuous grasp of reality. By the end of the opera she seems almost holy transfigured in her final declamation. While Franz Mazura may lack the suavity to seem like a credible amorous fixation for Salome, he makes up for it with fire and brimstone and his final dismissal of Salome is chilling in its cruelty. Martha Mödl can't offer much vocally but she delivers high camp as Herodias. Georges Sebastian highlights the lyrical side of the score. The sound is fair. I have included Elektra's monologue sung by Silja as a bonus.
Anja Silja sings "Allein! Weh, ganz allein!" from Elektra