David McVicar's disturbing take on Strauss
Not for the faint-hearted, Richard Strauss' searing and violent opera retells the story of the biblical temptress of the famed "seven veils", in a 1920s Art-Deco era setting, conceived by David McVicar and first premiering in 2008. Originally adapted from Oscar Wilde's novel of the same name, Strauss' Salome brought down the house on its first night in 1905, confirming his place in the higher echelon of opera composers.
Salome (Malin Bystrom) is the beguiling step-daughter of King Herod of Biblical infamy. Obsessed with John the Baptist, whom he is keeping as political prisoner, she is in turn lusted over by Herod himself. Desperate to please her, he grants her any wish - if she would honor him by performing a dance for him at the banquet. The coquettish Salome wields her sexual power over Herod - and demands the severed head of the Baptist. Horrified, Herod pleads with her to reconsider, however, finally relents.
Sexual politics, lost innocence and the stark contrast between opulent wealth and the grimy world of prostitution, domestic slavery and drudgery bring up certain parallels with period dramas set in the Roaring Twenties.