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Strauss, R. (1864-1949)


Composed 1904-1905.
First performed December 9, 1905.
Libretto by the Composer (in German),
after Lachmann's translation of Oscar Wilde.

A Summary of gSalomeh

Around 30 A.D., in King Herodfs palace in Jerusalem, Princess, Salome, who is a daughter of Herodias, and is the stepdaughter of Herod. King Herod killed his brother who is a father of Salome, and married Herodias who is the wife of his brother.
Herod leered at Salome, so she escapes to the grounds when itfs a full moon. She heard a weird voice from beneath the ground. This voice is the prophet Jochanaanfs who was confined to an old well by King Herod.
Salome is interested in this voice, and she orders Narraboth, who is a young captain of the guard, to open the cover of the well. Disregarding the fact that opening the well is prohibited, Narraboth opens it for the Princess.
Jochanaan appears at the mouth of the old well. He condemns Herodiasfs marriage to Herod. And, he is not interested in Salome at all. When Salome begs for Jochanaan's kiss, he returns to the old well.

King Herod and Herodias also come to the grounds. Herod always leered at his stepdaughter, Salome. He orders her to dance, but she refuses to. Herod tells Salome that if she dances here for him, he will give her what she wants.
So, Salome dances for Herod, and gradually sheds her seven veils.
King Herod is satisfied with her dance, and asks her what she wants. Salome wants the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter. Herodias is pleased with Salomefs demand. But King Herod is afraid of killing the holy man. Herod tries to persuade her to give up her demand, but she refuses.

Salome kisses the head of Jochanaan. King Herod sees that weird scene. He orders his soldiers to kill Salome.

A Comment on gSalomeh

Richard Strauss was an active conductor in opera houses, and composed orchestral works or German songs. After R. Strauss composed two operas which are influenced by Wagnerfs operas, he composed this opera, gSalome.h The first performance of gSalomeh created a big sensation. R. Strauss was 41 years old at that time. After he composed gSalome,h he composed several other outstanding operas, and those resulted in him obtaining the status of a great opera composer.

The original of this operafs libretto is Oscar Wildefs play gSalome.h Wildefs play was published in French, and was translated into English. But, this play was never performed in England because of the immorality in the story and a scandal of Wilde himself. R. Strauss composed this opera which is based on German libretto. But, the same as the play, this opera was refused by Wiener Staatsoper where it was first planned to be performed. At that time, the general director of music at Wiener Staatsoper was Gustav Mahler, who is a famous composer now. Mahler went to great pains to have this opera performed in Wien. Ten years after the first performance in Dresden, it was performed in Wien.

The most famous scene in this opera is Salomefs dance shedding seven veils. The Soprano who sings Salome, often takes off all her clothes on the stage to make the opera radical. This opera has given rise to public censure for about 100 years since the first performance. For example, when this opera was performed in the New National Theatre Tokyo in 2000, it was not only reviewed by music magazines but also reported by Tabloid papers. Salome must sing the long monologue after she intensely dances for more than ten minutes, so Salome is one of the most difficult roles for a Soprano.

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Strauss, R. (1864-1949)
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