Strauss’ Salome by Metropolitan Opera 2008

Title: Salome

Writer: Richard Strauss, based on play by Oscar Wilde

Form: opera

Produced by: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Staged: 2008

Location: New York

Director: Jürgen Flimm

Salome actress: Karita Mattila


Richard Strauss based this opera on Oscar Wilde’s play. The opera premiered in 1905.

This production by the Metropolitan Opera straddles past and present with contemporary costume and stage design. It fulfills Strauss’ richly dissonant musical interpretation with full voices and emotionally charged performances. Mattila’s performance highlights Salome’s youthful impetuousness and short attention span.

This production misses the motivational influence of Herod’s lechery toward Salome that compels her strategic revenge. Like the men in the play, this director (similar to Al Pacino’s interpretation) lets men have their fun, disregard women and prophets, and then act victimized and confused when the woman retaliates.

Herod throws his power around, causes harm without regard. He doesn’t draw lines between his behaviour and its consequences. He presents himself as a victim of women’s (Herodias and Salome) insanity when karma plays out. Herodias’ maternal concern for Salome is reduced to irritated jealousy at Herod’s attention for her daughter.