Princess Salome in Richard Strauss’ opera was another of Birgit Nilsson’s show-piece roles. After her role debut in Stockholm, the entire town was struck with Salome-fever.


Metropolitan Opera Archives

In 1954, Birgit Nilsson sang her first Salome at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. At first she was completely opposed to singing this part, but the director Göran Gentele persuaded her. Salome became such an enormous success that all of Stockholm caught Salome- and Birgit Nilsson-fever. King Gustav Adolf of Sweden saw the production several times. Shortly after, Birgit was named Singer to the Royal Court in Sweden. ”When I finally had, so to speak, Salome ’under my skin’, she became one of my favorite roles. It is not as long as Elektra and perhaps not as strenuous, as far as singing is concerned. But on the other hand Salome has a dance number that is twelve minutes long”. – Birgit Nilsson, My Memoirs in Pictures, 1977. Salome was the only role Birgit herself requested to sing during her career. Rudolf Bing offered her choice of roles during her stint at the Metropolitan in 1965. Karl Böhm conducted and it became a success that was long talked-of in New York.