Drawing: Malin Bystrom in Salome

Autographed drawing of Malin Bystrom in Salome at the Royal Opera House in London

“In Swedish soprano Malin Bystrom, we come as near to perfection as we ever will: a petulant, imperious teenager becoming drugged with lust,” wrote Michael Church in his five-star Independent review for the third revival of David McVicar’s gory and provocative production of Richard Strauss’s SALOME at the Royal Opera House. “Her voice rides easily over the hundred-piece orchestra and the porcelain purity of her tone contrasts ever more starkly with her blood-bolstered presence. Wonderful.”

After six appearances since her Covent Garden debut in 2002, Malin returned for the ROH’s 2017/1018 Autumn season, playing Helene in LES VEPRES SICILIENNES in November and the biblical femme fatale SALOME in January.

Malin signed my sketch for me after I left it at the stage door.

Drawing: Zawe Ashton in Salome

zawe ashton

Jamie Lloyd’s 2010 production of Oscar Wilde’s  controversial, once-banned 1892 biblical play Salome featured actor,writer and director, Zawe Ashton in the title role as the wilful, head-hunting daughter of Herodias. Beginning in May at the Curve Theatre in Leicester it finished with a run at London’s Hampstead Theatre. “This updated Salome comes at you shrouded in mist, with a thumping soundtrack and its pants right down at its ankles and dragging in the dirt,” wrote Aleks Sierz in The Arts Desk, describing Zawe’s portrayal as “feisty raucousness”.  The Guardian’s Michael Billington said “Zawe Ashton’s dancing to a ghetto blaster and voluptuously kissing the severed head suggests an adolescent in the grip of fierce erotic imaginings.”

The Screen International’s 2009 ‘Star of Tomorrow’ and the winner of  Cosmopolitian Magazine’s ‘Ultimate Newcomer’ trophy at the Women of the Year’ Awards in 2012, Zawe is currently under commission to The Bush Theatre and the Clean Break Theatre Company. She is also appearing in the London Premiere of Abi Morgan’s Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse, where I caught up with her to sign this Salome sketch going in for last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Angela Denoke in Salomé at the Royal Opera House

Angela Denoke Opera001

David McVicar’s revival production of Richard Strauss’ hyper-sensuous and erotic opera shocker Salome, about Herod’s stepdaughter and biblical femme fatale. It opened at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in July 2010.

It is based on a German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Famed for its ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ and the final scene when she declares her love to – and kisses the severed head of – John the Baptist. It shocked opera audiences from its first performance in 1905, and was actually banned in London by the Lord Chamberlain’s office until 1907.

German soprano Angela Denoke played the title role. She is a regular at all the world’s major opera companies – Berlin, London, Paris, Chicago, New York, Vienna and San Francisco, being named Singer of the Year in 1999 by the magazine ‘Openweldt’.