Richard Strauss



Musical drama in one act

Music Director and Conductor: Jan Latham-Koenig

Stage Director: Ekaterina Odegova

Set and Costume Designer: Etel Ioshpa

Lighting Designer: Sergey Skornetsky

Drama Advisor: Mikhail Muginshtein

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes with no intermission

Premiered on 14 September 2015

Recommended for 16+

Performed in German with Russian Subtitles

Richard Strauss saw the infamous play Salome by Oscar Wilde in Berlin in 1903 and immediately set to work on an opera. The composer was attracted by the Christian biblical tale, the magic exotica of the Orient, the torrid eroticism, the keen dramatic conflict and, of course, the main heroine, the Jewish princess Salome. Having a lust for Jokanaan (John the Baptist),she performs the ecstatic Dance of the Seven Veils, for which she demands from King Herod the severed head of the prophet on a silver platter. The score of Salome is written with amazingly masterful skill: a very large orchestra conveys every nuance of the heroine’s mixed feelings — from admiration to aversion, from lust for life to the dark of death.

Salome’s first performance in Dresden in 1905 caused quite a sensation, and the opera became the apotheosis of music modernism. Along with Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1902) and Strauss’ Electra (1909) Salome ushered in a new era in the arts. Salome is emphatically a work of genius, one of the greatest masterworks of our time, wrote the great composer and conductor Gustav Mahler, who was Strauss’ contemporary and friend.

Stage Director Ekaterina Odegova: 

Richard Strauss’ Salome  is not limited to the well-known Christian biblical story about the salacious dancer who killed the Prophet out of mere freak. Salome and Jokanaan are two virgins, two great poles of the epoch; through them Strauss shows the conjugacy of the old and new worlds, of body and soul. The two beautiful and terrifying meetings of Salome — with Jokanaan and with his head — and the dance for Herod which lies between them become the three steps of Salome’s ascent: from the stunning burn with love she did not know before, through maximal revealing of her sensuality during the dance and the elimination of love with a kiss in the amorous ecstasy of the finale. She is like the moon that has many faces: a cold and innocent moon with amber colored eyes; a nude, hysterical, bibacious moon looking for lovers; a bloody moon, which finally calms down and vanishes in the dark nocturnal night, and only Jokanaan’s hair is darker.

“Salomé dances the dance of the seven veils” — this line from Wilde’s play Strauss converts into a 9-minute music masterpiece and one of the culminations of this opera. The same can be said about the finale: two pages of the text turn into a twenty-minute musical ecstasy. The Prophet’s head is not the final point of Salome’s path. She blows up the corporal boundaries and, at last, can understand the “mystery of love”, which is bigger than the “mystery of death”. The story of Salome is the last supper fatal to Herod's kingdom; Eros and Tanatos merge at the table.

In Russia the opera was produced four times: in Leningrad (St Petersburg) in 1924, 1995 and 2000 and in Moscow in 1925. So, the Novaya Opera’s production comes along in a very special year — the 110th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere and the 90th anniversary of its first Moscow performance.

 The Novaya Opera’s production of Salome was premiered in September 2015.



Having seen this performance, you will never forget it.

September 17, 2015

This is an awesome, fascinating canvas.

Golos Publiki
September 25, 2015

In spite of all worries, Odegova’s team managed to find a key to solving a very challenging task — to produce a drama with a pulsating eroticized basis, avoiding provoking scenes and rivers of blood. Everything was made much more subtly and in good taste
September 24, 2015

Literally all the soloists — primarily the soprano Natalia Kreslina (Salome) and the tenor Andrey Popov (Salome’s stepfather, Herod) — are working so responsibly as if the composer himself were in the auditorium

September 23, 2015

Maestro Jan Latham-Koenig — not very often, but consistently — gives us magnificently sounding presents. The previous season was opened with a flawless Britten. Earlier was the first Moscow production of Tristan und Isolde, which made a great sensation. And now he presents a new important and forcible work — Strauss’ Salome.
September 22, 2015

A balance between the visible and the audible determined to a great extent the success of this production <…> The entire production has a single axis — the image of the world tree, which seems to be made of vigorous roots alone. It gives birth to everything both metaphorically and literally: spaghetti on the table, Solome’s thick curls, and Jokanaan’s very long plait and his manacles and, of course, the general feeling of a tight “nerve”. 

September 22, 2015

In the details of the scenes one can easily recognize the intonations of Peter Greenaway; it seems that the producers of Salome dedicate it to him. And at times they do it very ingeniously (for example, when Herod, frightened and foreboding death, is yelling about the rustling of birds’ feathers, we see leftovers of a black swan on the table).

September 23, 2015

A rather ascetic, but impressive set design — an inclined black floor creating a deformed crater in the centre of the stage, a half-round wall looking like yellow marble (turning into purple at tragic moments),a black table with black food on it, yellow-white-black outfits (with the only exception of Jochanaan) according to the fashion of the early 20th century — all this has a right to be. The main element that catches the eye is an impressing black construction that whirls up (intertwined roots of a southern tree or lianas from Art Nouveau graphics, or maybe these are wires or even the DNA molecule). Its pattern is repeated again and again — in Jochannan’s and Salome’s long hair, the Jews’ side-locks, the Nazarenes’ crowns of thorns…

September 21, 2015

The old world strangles the new one, which has just learned the power of love and beauty. The old world is ugly, while the new is cruel and irrepressible. In the new world Eros and Thanatos go to bed together and a murder for sake of a kiss is a child’s play. The Novaya Opera has created a very emotional production.

September 21, 2015

The quiet moments were yet more expressive. Jan Latham-Koenig figured out a special feature of Strauss’ sound: its “hapticness”, when you feel as if music “palpates” you, literally “touches”. This perfectly suits Salome’s story, a story about egocentric corporality and a pallet of pathologic desires.

Novye Izvestiya
September 17, 2015

In Odegova’s interpretation the Dance of the Seven Veils, the main scene of the opera, is far from symbolic. There is no dance at all <…> It must be noted that this scene is produced with that degree of tension that allows us to practically feel Herod’s desire, Salome’s disgust and Herodias’ hatred gradually growing towards the finale.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
September 21, 2015

There is an original idea, an invention and esthetics in the costumes and sets, and the mix of the Art Nouveau epoch with Judaic motives does not damage the production a single bit.

Orfey Radio
September 2015



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