The operas of Richard Strauss have held a special place at The Santa Fe Opera since its opening season, none more so than Salome, his 1905 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s study of extreme decadence.Salome established Strauss’ reputation as an opera composer, provoking a storm of controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. This searing one-act drama of obsession and lust returns with a fresh staging that suggests the era when Salome was created: the Belle Epoque period of material and sensual indulgence that prevailed in Paris before World War I. Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda, who sings the role of Leonore in Fidelio this season, reveals the darkest mysteries of love one veil at a time as the heedless Salome. Ryan McKinny, whose “lyrical bass baritone voice drips with gold” (Opera News), makes his Company debut as Jochanaan. The licentious Herod and his vengeful wife Herodias will be sung by tenor Robert Brubaker and mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens. David Robertson, highly acclaimed music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducts.
Hear more about this exciting new production of Salome in these interviews from the cast and creative team.
Composer Richard Strauss
Librettist Hedwig Lachmann from Oscar Wilde’s Salome
Sung in German
From the moonlit terrace of Herod's palace, Narraboth, captain of the guard, gazes rapturously inside at the Princess Salome, who is feasting with her stepfather and his court. The voice of the prophet Jochanaan echoes from a deep cistern, where he is imprisoned by Herod, who fears him. Salome, fleeing Herod's lechery, rushes out for fresh air and becomes curious when she hears Jochanaan curse her mother Herodias. When the soldiers refuse to bring Jochanaan to her, Salome convinces Narraboth, who orders that Jochanaan be summoned. Jochanaan emerges into the moonlight and denounces the incestuous union of Herod and Herodias. Appalled and mesmerized, she is increasingly overcome by desire, praising his body, hair and mouth. When Salome begs for Jochanaan's kiss, Narraboth stabs himself in horror, and the prophet descends into the cistern, urging her to seek salvation in the Messiah. The girl collapses in frustration and longing.
Herod appears, followed by his court. Herod's thoughts turn to Salome, who spurns his attentions. He begs Salome to dance for him and offers her anything she might wish in return. Salome makes him swear he will live up to his promise, then dances, slowly shedding seven veils and finishing her performance at his feet. Salome demands the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter, ignoring Herod's desperate alternatives – jewels, rare birds, a sacred veil. Terrified, Herod finally gives in. After a tense pause, the arm of the executioner rises from the cistern, offering the head to Salome. As clouds obscure the moon, Salome seizes her reward passionately, triumphantly kissing his lips. Overcome with revulsion, Herod orders the soldiers to kill Salome.
- Salome - Maria Kouba
- Herodias - Elaine Bonazzi
- Jochanaan - John Reardon
- Narraboth - John Stewart
- Herod - Ragnar Ulfung
- Cappadocian - Rodney Godshall
- Page - Greer McLane
- First Soldier - John West
- Second Soldier - David Cornell
- Slave - Claire Brooks
- First Jew - Nico Castel
- Second Jew - Roger Scanlan
- Third Jew - David Clark
- Fourth Jew - Gary Glaze
- Fifth Jew - Gimi Beni
- Second Nazarene - Adib Fazah
- Naaman - Lovell Horten
- Conductor - John Crosby
- Director - Lotfi Mansouri
- Scenic Designer - Henry Heymann
- Costume Designer - Henry Heymann
- Lighting Designer - Georg Schreiber