Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Lusty, Powerful Salome


Richard Strauss, Salome (concert version): Lise Lindstrom (soprano) and Kim Begley  (tenor) and other soloists. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits (Conductor),  Lighthouse, Poole, England 30.9.2015. (IL)



Dress rehearsal Of Salome with Lise Lindstrom in the title role wildly sensual in the flame red dress

Salome: Lise Lindstrom
Herod: Kim Begley
Herodias: Birgit Remmert
Jochanaan (John the Baptist): James Rutherford
Narraboth, Captain of the Guard: Andrew Staples
Page of Herodias: Anna Burford
First Jew: Hubert Francis
Second Jew/Slave: Paul Curievici
Third Jew: Alexander James Edwards
Fourth Jew: Alun Rhys-Jenkins
Fifth Jew/Cappadocian: Andri Bjorn Robertsson
First Nazarene: David Soar
Second Nazarene: Oliver Johnston
First Soldier: Andrew Greenan
Second Soldier: Alan Ewing

How this lusty, highly sensual combination of the Christian ethic and the erotic and murderous must have shocked and titillated the audience at the 1905 Dresden première of Salome with a shocked Marie Wittich in the title role who threatened to go on strike saying “I am a decent woman.”  Nevertheless, the première received 38 curtain calls and the opera was taken up by fifty opera houses over the next two years. All this in spite of outrage that denied a production of the opera in Vienna until 1918. Prayers were said in America pleading for its failure, and it was performed only once in New York before a scandalized public had it withdrawn.  In the UK only a bowdlerized version was allowed on-stage.


Kim Begley (Herod) and Lise Lindstrom (Salome)

 This Poole concert version was well designed with the soloists placed behind and in front of the orchestra and often moving between for dramatic effect. Jonathan Burton’s surtitles allowed maximum audience understanding and involvement and the lighting emphasised the shifting moods; for example blood red lighting helped to heighten the horror of John the Baptist’s execution.

Strauss uses a large orchestra to telling effect to heighten the spectacle and seething emotions of this voluptuous and vicious melodrama. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra received a standing ovation, responding superbly to Strauss’s highly charged score. The orchestral interludes, rather like miniature tone poems, the most famous or infamous of which being the salacious ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ contrasted with the gentler palace garden music. Much of Strauss’s Salome music  is based on a series of leitmotifs the most famous of which being that four note motif which becomes stridently sour and cruelly corrupt at the close of Salome’s aria as she kisses the lips of the executed John the Baptist served to her on a silver platter.

Lise Lindstrom in the title role rose magnificently to its very considerable demands including an extraordinary vocal range from extreme highs to lows, considerable stamina and strong projection.  Her ineffective seduction of the Baptist was very well shaped alternating the obsequious with withering scorn. And the final scene of her perverted lovemaking (mimed) to the severed head was truly horrifying.

Kim Begley’s Herod was an equally compellingly ugly portrait of an elderly roué ruled by his lust for the beauty of youth rather than the extinguished flame represented by his wife Herodias and torn between his fear of heavenly vengeance for allowing harm to befall the Baptist and his overwhelming desire for young flesh – ultimately his lust turning to utter revulsion, enough to order his soldiers to kill Salome.  Herodias (Birgit Remmert) was all vicious vengeance against her husband’s waywardness in support of Salome – like daughter, like mother.

James Rutherford as Jochanaan was strongly authoritative and all zealous outrage, determined that the abominations of Herodias and the corrupt Judaea court be cast down and of course totally immune to Salome’s  increasing desperate blandishments.  Andrew Stapleton’s put-upon, love-sick Narraboth was crawlingly obsequious enough to Salome’s enticements to make him release the Baptist from his prison and bring him before her.

The only ensemble piece – again finely staged and sung – was for the Jews arguing puerilely over religious minutiae while the two Nazarenes sang of the Christ’s wondrous miracles.

A truly memorable performance, deserving of the very enthusiastic response from a gratifyingly large audience.

Ian Lace    




  1. Jim Page says:

    It was equally compelling in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall last night (Friday) with stunning singing from all the main characters. If anyone has been a better Herod vocally than Kim Begley I haven’t heard them! And the balance between orchestra and soloists was excellent with the Bournemouth players, under the superb direction of their conductor, often sounding like a chamber ensemble.

    One thing puzzled me. Why did Salome never once gaze in lustful adoration at John the Baptist?

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews



Season Previews

  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month