Salome [1953]

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Rita Hayworth, Stewart Granger, Charles Laughton, Judith Anderson, Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Genre: Drama, History
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 103 minutes

While not everyone's idea of a proper opera singer, there's no denying soprano Maria Ewing's artistry as a performer, which is why her portrayal of Strauss's (and, from the original play, Oscar Wilde's) heroine in this 1992 staging is so riveting to watch. Her intensity, often misdirected in other portrayals, is focused on the teenage temptress she's playing, and she even performs a credibly sexy dance of the seven veils. Her then-husband, director Sir Peter Hall, makes sure that the audience sees his wife in the altogether at its conclusion (admittedly something not too many opera singers could pull off). Otherwise, Sir Peter's production is properly strange, making viewers squirm while watching so many abhorrent people onstage. Michael Devlin is in strong voice as John the Baptist, and Kenneth Riegel makes Tetrarch the heinous devil he surely is. Edward Downes and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House bring out every thrilling aspect of the young Strauss's still-disturbing score. --Kevin Filipski

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