Massimiliano Caldi

Strauss: Salome [Original French Version]

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The description of this recording as the "original French version" of Salome requires some clarification; the claim implies that the original version of Salome was in French, but this is not the case. The version here is the original translation into French, in which Strauss revised the vocal lines so they would fit with Wilde's text. The fact that there were many subsequent French translations, not authorized by the composer, accounts for the album's claim. The recording is taken from a live 2007 performance in Martina Franca, a small town on Italy's heel. There is considerable stage noise during the quieter sections, but there are few quiet moments in the opera. Otherwise, the recording does a good job of capturing the singers and the orchestra. Sofia Soloviy is a memorable Salomé, absolutely secure but youthful sounding, and she sings with purity and abandon. Constantino Finucci's Iokanaan is powerful and fiery, but his vibrato widens as his volume increases. Leonardo Gramegna as Hérode and Francesca Scaini as Hérodias are vocally adequate, but their portrayals are not especially vivid. Vincenzo Maria Sarinelli is distractingly shaky as Narraboth. The secondary roles sound distinctly provincial. Except for Soloviy and Finucci, the singers' French is blocky and unidiomatic, which undermines the basic premise of the project. Orchestra Internationale d'Italia, under Massimiliano Caldi, plays with spirit and precision; it may not be in the league of the finest major orchestras, but it is more than up to the task of making the colorful, difficult score come alive. The project holds some interest as a document of the opera using Wilde's original text, but in spite of Soloviy's fine performance, it's not a version a listener looking for the most compelling version of Salome would be likely to choose.

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