All events Concert

Bartók & Strauss: Dances of Desire


Booking open to Friends only. Join now
Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday 3 March 2020 at 9.30am.

Soprano Malin Byström sitting down, wearing a red cape over jeans and a white t-shirt, looking at the camera with her chin on her hand


Jakub Hrůša – conductor
Malin Byström – soprano (Salome)
Susan Bickley – mezzo-soprano (Herodias)
Peter Hoare – tenor (Herod)
Philharmonia Voices


Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin

— Interval —

Strauss Salome (Dance of the Seven Veils and closing scenes)

The two works in tonight’s programme demonstrate music’s power to seduce, to disturb, and to shock.

The premiere of the ballet The Miraculous Mandarin caused an uproar. It’s a lurid tale of prostitution, fraud, theft and murder, with a glowing ghost thrown in for good measure. Bartók’s score opens with a frantic, cacophonous depiction of the big city. Three crooks force a woman to attract men for them to rob, and Bartok writes sinuous melodies for the clarinet to accompany her provocative dances. Their third victim, the mandarin, is represented by trombone glissandos, and Bartok uses unusual techniques in all the sections of the orchestra to great dramatic effect.

Strauss’s Salome plumbs even greater depths of depravity. Tonight’s concert performance of the second half of the opera begins with the infamous Dance of the Seven Veils. Overcome by lust, King Herod has promised his stepdaughter Salome anything she desires if she will dance for him. She agrees, and demands the head of the prophet John the Baptist, who has spurned her own advances. Strauss deploys a huge orchestra to create overwhelming waves of sound – erotic, powerful, violent.

Swedish soprano Malin Bystrom was “sensational” (Bachtrack) in the role of Salome at the Royal Opera House in 2018.

Need to know

Prices & Discounts

£12 – £58 (premium)

Subscription discounts available; under-18s and concessions discounts available; £8 tickets for students via Student Pulse one month before the concert (limited availability)

Running Time

1 hour 45 minutes, including 20 minute interval

Recommended age

From 7+


Please note the choir stalls are not on sale



Surtitles will be displayed

Box office

Philharmonia Box Office: 0800 652 6717


Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

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London season illustration

Part of 2020/21 London Season