St Petersburg, Mariinsky II


one act opera

Performed in German (the performance will have synchronised Russian and English supertitles)



Christian Knapp

Salome: Elena Stikhina
Jokanaan: Vadim Kravets
Herod: Andrei Popov
Herodias: Olga Savova


Music by Richard Strauss
Libretto by the composer from Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the tragedy by Oscar Wilde

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Director: Marat Gatsalov 
Set Designer: Monika Pormale
Costume Designers: Mārīte Mastiņa-Pēterkopa and Rolands Pēterkops (MAREUNROL'S)
Lighting Designer: Alexander Naumov
Video Graphics Designer: Katrīna Neiburga
Musical Preparation: Marina Mishuk


The young captain of the guard Narraboth's gaze lovingly follows Salome, who is feasting with the guests of King Herod. Herodias' page, amazed at the unusual moon, warns his friend of danger. From the dungeon the voice of the prophet resounds, announcing the birth of the Son of God: "When He comes the desolate places shall rejoice, the eyes of the blind shall see the day and the ears of the deaf shall be opened."

Followed by the lustful glances of her step-father, Salome leaves the feast. The threatening speeches of Jokanaan awaken her curiosity, and the princess wishes to see the prisoner. She gently asks Narraboth to do this and he, unable to resist her charms, breaks the tetrarch's orders. Jokanaan denounces Herod and Herodias, covered in sweat and tears, and he calls on them to repent. Desiring to be caressed and kissed, Salome tries to approach the prophet, but he spurns the "daughter of Sodom". Amazed at what he has seen, Narraboth killed himself. Cursing, Jokanaan retreats to his cell.

Haunted by nightmarish visions bordering on hysteria, the tetrarch seeks out his step-daughter. He offers Salome wine and exotic fruit as well as a seat at the feast next to him. Yet she coldly rejects his advances. Again the threatening prophecies of Jokanaan are heard. Herodias asks for him to be given to the Jews, but Herod is fearful of issuing such an order as he considers Jokanaan to be a holy man. The Nazarenes speak of the miracles of the Messiah which they have witnessed. In the hopes of distracting himself from his gloomy thoughts, the tetrarch convinces his step-daughter to dance for him and, for the pleasure, he will grant her every wish. Taking Herod on oath, Salome begins her dance of the seven veils.

Herod is delighted and he asks what the reward should be. Salome demands the head of Jokanaan. Sensing impending doom, Herod tries to pay by other means, but the princess insists. The tetrarch is forced to fulfil his promise. Salome is given Jokanaan's head.


Strauss' Salome is one of the most eagerly anticipated opera productions of the season. Probably many Russian lovers of opera still recall the two Mariinsky Theatre productions of 1995 and 2000, staged on the initiative of Valery Gergiev by directors Julie Taymor and David Freeman. Not long before that, in 1989 Salome was presented during a tour to Leningrad by the Oper Stuttgart. That performance broke a sixty-year-long period of the lamentable absence of Strauss' works at the theatre, because in the 1920s the GATOB (today the Mariinsky) hosted performances of Salome and Der Rosenkavalier, while in 1913, four years after the premiere in Germany, Vsevolod Meyerhold staged Elektra here, the rehearsals being attended by the composer himself.
The Strauss repertoire of the Mariinsky Theatre today has been cultivated by Valery Gergiev's love of this music that is highly complex in terms of structure. In addition to Salome, the conductor has worked on a production of Elektra and the Russian premieres of the operas Die Frau ohne Schatten and Ariadne auf Naxos. A sound performance foundation of the new Salome is guaranteed by the casts announced, among them Musikdrama soloists Mlada Khudoley, Yevgeny Nikitin, Larisa Gogolevskaya and Andrei Popov as well as the promising young singers Elena Stikhina, Evgenia Muravieva, Lesya Alekseyeva and Alexander Mikhailov.
The new production will also intrigue through its unexpected directing and design decisions. Drama director Marat Gatsalov, for whom Salome marks his first work in opera, admits that "In our version of Salome it is not a story about a fornicatress who passionately desires Jokanaan. We see the collision of great ideas, between which the protagonists find themselves as if between a rock and a hard place. Salome's passionate desire to kiss Jokanaan is probably the desire to drown out the voice of new truth." Working with Gatsalov are designers from Latvia: set designer Monika Pormale and the design duo MAREUNROL'S, who have already created the elegant visual designs for Eugene Onegin at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. Also playing a major role in the production are the video graphics, which have been created by the experienced artist and set designer Katrīna Neiburga. 

World premiere: 9 December 1905, Semperoper, Dresden
Russian premiere: 6 June 1924, State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre (Mariinsky Theatre), Leningrad
Production premiere: 9 February 2017

Running time: 1 hours 40 minutes
The performance without an interval

Age category 16+

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