A crumbling society, an unstable political milieu, and the uncontrollability of desire are all starkly reflected in Victorian Opera’s new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome. The short, sharp, shocking opera is performed at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda for three shows only on 22, 25, 27 February, 7:30 pm.
A direct translation of Oscar Wilde’s play drawn from the biblical tales of Salome, Strauss’ scandalous 90-minute opera still mesmerises 115 years after its premiere. The image of teenage Salome kissing the severed head of the man who rejected her, John the Baptist (Jochanaan), has fascinated artists for centuries and remains one of opera’s most horrifying moments.
The score of Strauss’ Salome is known for its power, immediacy, and rich orchestral colour, and features the hypnotic ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ in the moments before Salome requests the head of Jochanaan.
Reflecting on contemporary parallels in the production, director Cameron Menzies (Seven Deadly Sins, Yma Sumac: The Peruvian Songbird) notes: “There are so many threads in Salome that will resonate with a modern-day audience, such as an implanted foreign power ruling displaced indigenous tribes, a world on the brink of destruction and full of “sin” waiting for its Messiah to come and save it.” He continues, highlighting: “We wanted to explore the disease of corruption, the disease of fear, the disease of the appropriation of power and also the disease of a crown that sits on a ruler’s head.”
Conductor and Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills (Parsifal, Pelleas and Melisande) recognises Salome as: “A ritual which shocks through pity and terror, a catharsis which shakes the foundations of what it is to be human. Salome offers a theatrical experience which explores ‘the very north of humanness’ in a bloody confrontation which releases the spirit and makes us gasp with wonder.”
The cast features luminaries from the Australian and international stage, led by acclaimed Lithuanian soprano Vida Miknevičiūtė in her role debut as Salome, English tenor Ian Storey as Herod, contralto Liane Keegan as Herodias, and bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi as Jochanaan.
Salome opens Victorian Opera’s Season 2020 at the Palais Theatre which boasts the ideal location for summertime opera. “We’re extraordinarily lucky to have this beautiful beachside venue ideal for opera,” says Richard Mills. “Watch the sunset at the beach, enjoy a delicious dinner then join Victorian Opera for a world-class performance.”
Salome runs for three-shows only with tickets starting at $39 and are now available through TakeYourSeats.com