Salome is not just an opera – it is above all an immense woman’s role.
A horrifying woman – terrifyingly beautiful, absolutely insane, frighteningly cynical, with a candor in the horror worthy of the best horror films.
Strauss’s opera is almost directly adapted from Oscar Wilde’s story, who had a complete mastery of the maddening characters, plunged into horror as if it were a balanced and natural path.
The story takes place on the terrace of Herod’s palace.
Salome is his daughter-in-law – it has been said that she was so beautiful that the sun would hide when she appeared.
Unfortunately, her beauty is only a facade.
In the palace, a man is locked in a tank – he has upset Herod. This man is the prophet John the Baptist.
From the depths of his prison, he continues to prophesy and Salome hears him.
She wants to see him.
Then she sees him – and then, for this woman rotten with self-love, comes the greatest shock: she desires him and he refuses her. He gives her nothing, not an ounce of attention, as if she were a miserable worm.
How could she tolerate this affront?
It is unimaginable.
So, when Herod and his court go out on the terrace, Salome will start the very famous dance of the 7 veils.
Dazed, enchanted, Herod accepts Salome’s request – and the prophet is released from his prison. Well, released…
Because Salome’s request is simple: she dances yes – but only for the head of John the Baptist.
When the executioner brings the head, Salome, at last, can do what she wanted to do and that he had dared to refuse: she kisses the lips of the martyr.
Horrified, Herod has no choice but to put her to death.
This is for the character
And since this is an opera, it would have been a shame to miss out on giving her extreme difficulty in singing as well – not to mention that dance part which is on the level of a prima ballerina.
Once the pearls have been found, the show can go on – to the great horror of all the spectators
Featured Image : Salome – by Gale Edwards. Opera Conference / Opera Australia co-production. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 2012