Malin Bystrom as Salome (Photo: Dutch National Opera above)
At the Dutch National Opera last night we saw a Salome of Richard Strauss that was nothing short of sensational. This was the sort of operatic performance, opera buffs dream of! The Salome was Malin Bystrom, a Swedish soprano with the sort of high effortless sound that cuts through the huge orchestra and never falters. In a truly terrifying performance, looking like a spoilt young demi-mondaine in a slinky white dress, and having been delivered with the blood soaked body of John the Baptist, she staggers through the pool of blood and lies on top of him singing her final phrases with thrilling and abandoned assurance. At the final curtain, the shocked silence finally broke into endless cheers and roars. It was the premiere of a brilliantly simple but dramatic new production by Ivo van Hove, featuring the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a rare appearance in the pit conducted by their new music director Daniele Gatti.