BBC Philharmonic / Teatro Regio / Noseda, Bridgewater Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

Continuing his fascinating series of operas in concert with the BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda, its chief conductor, turned to one of the heftiest and most compelling scores, Strauss's Salome. The 14-strong cast from Turin's Teatro Regio, where Noseda is music director, joined forces with his Manchester orchestra, augmented to 107 players, in a performance that highlighted the orchestra's role as equal partner in characterisation. Equal in the sense, too, that players and singers shared a platform, sometimes to the disadvantage of the former.

However, the cast, opening on stage in less than a fortnight, knows the score from the inside. Even without the benefit of Robert Carsen's set and costumes, there was plenty to thrill in this engaging evening. Noseda illuminated every musical detail, drawing playing of the utmost acuity. Having let this monster out of its cage, he harnessed its terrifying energy, balancing its cut and thrust with its shimmering lyricism in an electrifying performance.

Making her British and role debut, Nicola Beller Carbone gave an intense, fresh-voiced account of the taxing central part, most seductive in her sweet and suggestive pianissimo. Yet, while she conveyed the music's ecstatic idiom, she was often swamped by the mounting orchestral fever. But Beller Carbone prevailed and, when her poised interpretation reaches the stage and she dispenses with the seventh veil, her performance will doubtless gain dramatic confidence and vocal stature.

Jörg Dürmüller gave a sympathetic account as the besotted Narraboth, increasingly despairing as Salome degenerates from girlish infatuation to consuming obsession with John the Baptist. As Jokanaan, Peteris Eglitis sang with evangelical fervour, visionary rather than aggressive.

Vocally impeccable, Peter Bronder made the part of Herod his own, capturing the wheedling character without exaggeration, but Dagmar Peckova was a less domineering Herodias than is usual, not always cutting stridently enough through the dense score. As the Page, meanwhile, Manuela Custer brought a luminous beauty to her small role.

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