The hypersexualized story about the grim-fated heroine Salome, her infatuation with the prophet John the Baptist (Jokanaan) and her step-father Herod’s obsession with her.
Opera in one act
Sung in German
About 1 hour 40 minutes
A great terrace in the Palace of Herod, set above the banqueting hall. Some soldiers are leaning over the balcony. To the right there is a gigantic staircase, to the left, at the back, an old cistern surrounded by a wall of green bronze. The moon is shining very brightly.
Narraboth gazes from a terrace in Herod's palace into the banquet hall at the beautiful Princess Salome; he is in love with her, and apotheosizes her, much to the disgusted fearfulness of the Page of Herodias. The voice of the Prophet Jochanaan is heard from his prison in the palace cistern; Herod fears him and has ordered that no one should contact him, including Jerusalem's High Priest.
Tired of the feast and its guests, Salome flees to the terrace. When she hears Jochanaan cursing her mother (Herodias), Salome's curiosity is piqued. The palace guards will not honor her petulant orders to fetch Jochanaan for her, so she teasingly works on Narraboth to bring Jochanaan before her. Despite the orders he has received from Herod, Narraboth finally gives in after she promises to smile at him.
Jochanaan emerges from the cistern and shouts prophecies regarding Herod and Herodias that no one understands, except Salome when the Prophet refers to her mother. Upon seeing Jochanaan, Salome is filled with an overwhelming desire for him, praising his white skin and asking to touch it, but he rejects her. She then praises his black hair, again asking to touch it, but is rejected once more. She finally begs for a kiss from Jochanaan's lips, and Narraboth, who cannot bear to hear this, kills himself. As Jochanaan is returned to the well, he preaches salvation through the Messiah.
Herod enters, followed by his wife and court. He slips in Narraboth's blood and starts hallucinating. He hears the beating of wings. Despite Herodias' objections, Herod stares lustfully at Salome, who rejects him. Jochanaan harasses Herodias from the well, calling her incestuous marriage to Herod sinful. She demands that Herod silence him. Herod refuses, and she mocks his fear. Five Jews argue concerning the nature of God. Two Nazarenes tell of Christ's miracles; at one point they bring up the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead, which Herod finds frightening.
Herod asks for Salome to eat with him, drink with him; indolently, she twice refuses, saying she is not hungry or thirsty. Herod then begs Salome to dance for him, Tanz für mich, Salome, though her mother objects. He promises to reward her with her heart's desire – even if it were one half of his kingdom.
After Salome inquires into his promise, and he swears to honor it, she prepares for the "Dance of the Seven Veils". This dance, very oriental in orchestration, has her slowly removing her seven veils, until she lies naked at his feet. Salome then demands the head of the prophet on a silver platter. Her mother cackles in pleasure. Herod tries to dissuade her with offers of jewels, peacocks, and the sacred veil of the Temple. Salome remains firm in her demand for Jochanaan's head, forcing Herod to accede to her demands. After a desperate monologue by Salome, an executioner emerges from the well and delivers the severed head as she requested.
Salome now declares her love for the severed head, caressing it and kissing the prophet's dead lips passionately. Horrified, Herod orders his soldiers, "Kill that woman!" They rush forward and crush Salome under their shields.
Herodes – Tenor (Charakter)
Tetrarch of Judaea and Perea
Herodias – Mezzo-soprano/Contralto (dramatic)
The wife of Herodes
Salome – Soprano (spinto)
The stepdaughter (and niece) of Herodes
Jochanaan – Baritone (Helden)
John the Baptist
Narraboth – Tenor (lyric)
The young Syrian, Captain of the Guard
The Page of Herodias – Contralto
First Jew – Tenor
Second Jew – Tenor
Third Jew – Tenor
Fourth Jew – Tenor
Fifth Jew – Bass
First Nazarene – Bass
Second Nazarene - Tenor
First soldier - Bass
Second soldier - Bass
A Cappadocian - Bass
A slave - Soprano/Tenor
Place of birth: Munich, Germany
Place of death: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Richard Strauss was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. Considered a leading composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, he has been described as a successor of Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. Along with Gustav Mahler, he represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.
Strauss's compositional output began in 1870 when he was just six years old and lasted until his death nearly eighty years later. While his output of works encompasses nearly every type of classical compositional form, Strauss achieved his greatest success with tone poems and operas. Other well-known works by Strauss include two symphonies, lieder (especially his Four Last Songs from 1948), the Violin Concerto in D minor (1882), the Horn Concerto No. 1 (1883), Horn Concerto No. 2 (1943), his Oboe Concerto and other instrumental works such as Metamorphosen (1945).
In addition to his formal teachers, Strauss was profoundly influenced musically by his father who made instrumental music-making central to the Strauss home. His father further assisted his son with his musical composition during the 1870s and into the early 1880s, providing advice, comments, and criticisms.
In 1933 Strauss was appointed to two important positions in the musical life of Nazi Germany: head of the Reichsmusikkammer and principal conductor of the Bayreuth Festival. However, Strauss's daughter-in-law, Alice Grab Strauss, was Jewish and much of his apparent acquiescence to the Nazi Party was done in order to save her life and the lives of her children (his grandchildren).
Strauss met his future wife, soprano Pauline de Ahna, in 1887. De Ahna was then a voice student at the Munich Musikschule, but soon switched to private lessons with Strauss who became her principal teacher. In 1897, the Strausses’ only child, their son Franz, was born.
In 1949 he suffered from a heart attack and he died of kidney failure quietly, in his sleep in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany. Strauss's wife, Pauline de Ahna, died eight months later, at the age of 88.
“The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play.”
"Never look encouragingly at the brass, except with a short glance to give an important cue."
Richard Strauss wrote his first composition, aged six. Wagner's music had a huge impact on his musical development.
Most prominent operas
Hedwig Lachmann was a German author, translator and poet.
The libretto is Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde, edited by the composer.
3+1, 2+2 (English horn, heckelphone), 4+2 (Eb-clarinet, bass clarinet), 3+1 - 6, 4, 4, 1
3, 2+1 (English horn), 2+1 (bass clarinet), 3 - 4, 3, 3, 1
3, 2+1 (English horn), 2+1 (bass clarinet), 3 - 4, 3, 3, 1
timp, perc, celesta, 2 harps, strings, organ
Salome premiered at the Königliches Opernhaus, Dresden, in 1905.
Today it is one of the top 40 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria - Tanz der sieben Schleier "Dance of seven veils" (Salome)
Aria – Ah! Du wolltest mich nicht deinen Mund küssen lassen (Salome)
Aria - Ah! Ich habe deinen Mund geküsst, Jochanaan (Salome)