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Richard Strauss

Salome

opera in two acts with a choreographic prologue

Age 16+

Dates

Performance based on the eponymous opera and symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra
Libretto by the composer, based on Oscar Wilde’s eponymous play translated into German by Hedwig Lachmann
Musical director: Honoured Artist of Ukraine Viktor Ploskina
Director: recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Mikhail Pandzhavidze
Set and costume design, video design concept: Garri Gummel (Russia)
Choreography: People’s Artist of Belarus Kanstantsin Kuzniatsou, Honoured Artist of the Republic of Belarus Yuliya Dziatko
Video design: Pavel Suvorov (Russia)
Lighting design: Sergey Shevchenko (Russia)
Conductor: Aleh Lessoun, Ivan Kostyakhin
Sung in German with Russian surtitles
Running time: 2 hours with one interval
Premiere: 18 October 2018

16

Act I

The landscape is petrified and it is similar to the surface of the moon. A man lies on the scorched deserted salt marsh lit by the moon and the stars. This is Jochanaan. The sun is rising. Jochanaan stands up to meet the sun, shimmering with fiery purple yellow shades.

Old and young people of both sexes rise from the ashes. Like wild animals, they are initially frightened, but they grow bolder and attack Jochanaan fiercely. The Prophet turns his staff to the sun and strikes it against the ground. The bed of the river is formed and the water flows to the desert. The waters of the river flood the desert. The people dye, only some of them and the Prophet survive the flood in the hills.

The river returns to its bed. Jochanaan takes a child in his arms and enters the Jordan. Following him, the people enter the river and come out, clad in light robes. The sky is covered with dark clouds. The darkness is pierced by the sunbeam. In its light, the figure of the Savior walking through the waters of the Jordan is seen. Rain falls. The desert blooms, and the people greet each other with a threefold kiss.

There is a sandstorm. The sun is purple, the Jordan is bloody. A ship is going from the sun, from the sunset to Jochanaan, standing in the bloody river. The Jordan dries up.

The ship is stuck in the sands. On its deck, smartly dressed people dance; this is a retinue of King Herodes. Salome appears among the dancers: she has emerged from the banquet hall, not wanting to endure the lustful gazes of the king. Jochanaan is mesmerized by her appearance. Suddenly, Herodias, Salome's mother, comes out onto the deck, demanding that her daughter return to the table. There is a quarrel, during which Herodias beats Salome. It makes Jochanaan frenzy. Guards run in and snatch the Prophet and throw him into a pool with a grate. The retinue disperses. The guard led by Captain Narraboth and the page of Herodias remain on stage.

Syrian Narraboth watches Salome lovingly. Suddenly Jochanaan's voice is heard. Salome listens to the voice and demands that the Prophet be shown to her. Narraboth tries to resist, but, unable to stand against Salome, orders to show the prisoner.

Jochanaan appears. He speaks out against the culpable King Herodes and Queen Herodias, who are mired in sin. Salome listens to his fiery speech in fascination, she is astonished by the inner power of the Prophet and his beauty. Unaware of other manifestations of love, the princess asks permission three times to touch Jochanaan and kiss him. Narraboth, watching this in despair and horror, dies while trying to stop the princess. The Prophet rejects Salome's desire with disgust, cursing her and returning to his prison.


Act II

Herodes, who left the room with his guests, slips on the bloody floor and, seeing the dead body of the Syrian, demands that it be carried away. The king suffers from an overwhelming desire for his stepdaughter, but Salome rejects him firmly. Again and again, the words of the Prophet are heard from under the earth. Herodes's milieu demands his extradition for the execution, Herodias also wants to make the voice that curses her silent, but the king spares the prophet – he is superstitious and Jochanaan's words keep him in awe.

To find a way out of the awkward situation, Herodes asks Salome to dance, promising to fulfill any of her wishes. Slowly, frighteningly, then more and more quickly and excitedly Salome performs her dance of the seven veils, it becomes more and more intoxicating. Delighted with what he has seen, Herodes hastens to confirm his oath. Salome expresses her desire: as a reward, the king must give her the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter. Herodes begs his stepdaughter to change her mind, promising any treasure in return, but Salome is adamant. Satisfied Herodias removes the ring with the seal which is used for death sentences from the finger of Herodes.

The executioner goes down to the Prophet. There comes the silence, which makes everyone’s blood run cold... Those present are horrified. Salome's last appeal to Jochanaan is heard.

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