Richard Strauss

The dark side of the human being

When Salome was first performed in 1905, it caused quite a scandal. Audiences had never before seen an opera which included paedophilia, necrophilia, incest and decapitation.

Based on the timeless play by Oscar Wilde, who knew well the darkest corners of the human heart, Richard Strauss wrote a troubling, uneasy score which portrays very clearly our basest instincts. Salome could be described perfectly as the opera of the “dark side”, of the most negative side of the human soul.

To find out more, we travelled to London to talk to Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, who revealed some previously unknown facts about the author and his works to us. We’ll also discover just how up to date some of Wilde's most famous quotes are in his home town.But Salome is so much more. Actually, Richard Strauss wrote a story about obsession, about curiosity and about our desire for the prohibited. And the score expresses these topics perfectly: music which arouses strong emotions.

We’ll also witness a very sensual interpretation of the famous Dance of the Seven Veils, somewhere between belly dancing and a striptease. The origins of this dance hides quite a few surprises, and Munique Neith, one of the world’s leading oriental dancers, will reveal them to us.

The influence of Grand Guignol, a theatre which put on naturalistic horror shows about bloody crimes and which was very popular at the end of the 19th century, is clear in this opera. Sex, perversion and death all go hand-in-hand in Salome. Salome makes us face our own fears and our own conscience.

“Salome” Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, 2011 UNITEL, Arthaus Musik

Merlin Holland
Munique Neith