Strauss: Salome - Behrens, Van Dam, Böhm, Baltsa, Ochman; Karajan. Salzburg, 1977
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This Salome marked the breakout run for Hildegard Behrens who would go on to become one of the greatest dramatic sopranos of her time. The production was recorded and commercially released. This recording was the broadcast of one of the performances and is a much better representation of Behrens' artistry than the rather stale accounting from the studio. In short, Behrens is near perfections as Salome. There was a pure girlish quality to her voice which seems almost entirely incongruous with the music of Richard Strauss, but, when coupled with her powerful top, creates the perfect storm for a definitive Salome. She is joined by a remarkable supporting cast including Agnes Baltsa as Herodias and José Van Dam as Jochanaan. Baltsa seems a little out of sorts in this role. Her voice was still too legit for these kind of roles and she lacks the "campy" quality that makes a great Herodias (perhaps Karajan wanted to convey a more youthful Herodias.) Van Dam may not be booming in this role, but he still delivers it with plenty of fire and brimstone and his attractive voice makes it seem all the more clear why Salome would become so infatuated with him. Walter Böhm is serviceable as Herod but not at the level of his colleagues. It is also worth noting that there are some fantastic singers in the supporting roles including Wieslaw Ochman, Gerd Nienstedt, Kurt Rydl, Michel Sénéchal and Erich Kunz. Karajan delivers all of the technicolor glamor of this score in the manner that only he was capable of. The sound is excellent.