5star highlights of this Covent Garden production are the closing twenty minutes of American Catherine Malfitano's singing of the title role -merciless intensity and voracious singing! - and the magnificent performance of Bryn Terfel as Jokanaan. We enjoyed seeing Malfitano's Cio-Cio San in Butterfly in San Francisco in the late nineties, and her singing here is even more engaged, more opened - a real success. There are aspects to her singing that can be bothersome at times; a lack of extravagant vocal reserves creates a sometimes monotonous approach to color, a feeling that she is always using everything she has, although she finds vocal color and drama aplenty in the closing scene. In general, however, It's hard to fault her Salome in this production - she's up to the task vocally and is a superb singing actor, one of the best around. Made for the camera (and the camera work here is unfailingly fine), Malfitano delivers a non-stop performance that exposes every nerve of Strauss' insane Princess. Terfel is as compelling a Jokanaan as I've ever heard - wild and devout and determined, plenty of physical braun and as musically committed a John the Baptist as might be possible. His singing is perfect, and his presence compelling. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Dohnanyi's disengaged conducting and the formulaic blandness of the Covent Garden orchestra leaves a lot to be desired. Some of it seems to be the recorded sound which never rises to compete with the stage action, but I sense a lack of direction on Dohnanyi's part, surprising since I'm an admirer of his orchestral conducting in general. The evocative tension of Strauss' orchestral writing of the last half hour never materializes. Can't explain this misstep, but it noticably diminishes the vibrancy of the production. In contrast to some reviews on this page, Riegel's Herod is ardently sung - the arrogance of Herod's cravenness is striking and convincing, indicating not only acting chops but a bountiful, solid singing technique. If only the orchestra didnt sound as if it were on vacation! All in all, one of the best filmed Salomes available, superior by leagues to the redoubtable Maria Ewing's shouted version at the same house, and in my view, better than the Malfitano/Estes Berlin version, especially in the art design department. Here, the focus is completely on the singing drama, and is the better for it. After Deborah Voigt's very recent Chicago triumph in her first staged Salome, we can hope she will commit a performance to video disc. Don't hesitate with this one, however. It delivers the goods.