Richard Strauss


06. March 2020

Herod is celebrating his birthday with friends and associates. Salome detests her stepfather’s parties and is repelled by his lustful stares. Narraboth is in love with Salome; despite the page’ s repeated urging not to look at her all the time, he cannot keep his eyes off the daughter of Herodias.

They are interrupted by a voice from the depths of the building. It is the call of the prophet Jochanaan, who has been imprisoned by Herod, since he has not only become a public enemy because of his prophecies of the dawn of a new era, but also has been causing private discomfort by denouncing the lascivious ways of Herodias and the marriage she has made by means of adultery and fratricide.

Salome feels the deepest fascination for the strange voice. Though Herod has strictly forbidden any contact with the Prophet, she succeeds in persuading Narraboth to bring her the prisoner. Jochanaan’ s strange appearance, his passionate accusations and his demand for a new approach to life awaken in Salome the desire to make contact with the man – to touch his hair, his body, to kiss his lips. But Jochanaan roughly draws back and curses her. Narraboth is driven to stab himself.

Herod and Herodias come to quarrel over the Prophet. Herodias demands to have him brought to silence. Herod for his part senses a “holy man” in him, and in this he triggers off animated argument among his guests. The Jews see him as an impostor, while the Nazarenes hold him in awe as the harbinger of a new dawn.

Herod begs Salome to dance for him, offering her fulfilment of every wish. Herodias urges her daughter in vain not to do so. Salome’s dance unveils the truth about her situation. Herod is more and more carried away by her performance. The re-ward which Salome demands is Jochanaan’s head. Horrified, Herod tries to dissuade her. In vain he offers all his riches and half his kingdom, in an ecstasy of brutality and desire Salome sings her showdown with the entire world in which she has lived.