Every time I listen to a recording of a work conducted by Sinopoli, I learn something more about the work. I don't necessarily enjoy it (for example, his recording of Madama Butterfly is, welll, just bad), but I still learn something. One of the less favorable reviews of this recording takes issue with the fact that Sinopoli treats the work as a symphony, not as a work of emotion. Well, I agree that he treats it as a symphony, but I think the operatic (i.e., emotional) aspect of Salome comes through loud and clear and the work is better for it. The symphonic aspects of the work are certainly there, and one of the treats of this recording is that its "orientalism" comes through far more than it does in the grisly (but wonderful) Solti/Nilsson recording. The work comes through as sinuous, sensual, exotic and lush. What's wrong with that?
As for the singing, I don't know much about Cheryl Studer; she didn't sing much at the Met when I used to go there, but she is nearly perfect for the part. She is a spoiled adolescent who is used to getting her way, perverse though it may be, and it's just right for the role. My only quibble is that in the last scene there are times when I wish she would favor the singing a bit more than the characterization. That said, it's still a captivating performance.
Bryn Terfel is magnificent as John the Baptist, and Leonie Rysanek is nearly as good as Herodias. The other roles are not as well cast, but when you have these three and the splendid conducting of Sinopoli, who cares?