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 at St Kilda’s Palais Theatre for three shows only from 22 February 2020.
A direct translation of Oscar Wilde’s play drawn from the biblical tales of Salome, Strauss’ scandalous 90-minute short, sharp and shocking 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) observes: “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.”
“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,” said Menzies.
The Salome cast features luminaries from the Australian and international stage, led by acclaimed Lithuanian soprano Vida Mikneviciute in her role debut as Salome, English tenor Ian Storey as Herod, contralto Liane Keegan as Herodias, and bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi as Jochanaan.
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.”
Salome opens Victorian Opera’s Season 2020 at St Kilda’s Palais Theatre which boasts the ideal location for summertime opera. “We’re extraordinarily lucky to have this beautiful beachside venue ideal for opera,” says Mills. “Watch the sunset at the beach, enjoy a delicious dinner then join Victorian Opera for a world-class performance.”
Conductor: Richard Mills Director: Cameron Menzies Featuring: Ian Storey, Liane Keegan, Vida Mikneviciute, Daniel Sumegi, James Egglestone, Dimity Shepherd, Paul Biencourt, Daniel Todd, Timothy Reynolds, Carlos E. Bárcenas, Raphael Wong, Simon Meadows, Douglas Kelly, Alex Pokryshevsky, Jerzy Kozlowski, Kiran Rajasingam, Kathryn Radcliffe, Orchestra Victoria Set Designer: Christina Smith Costume Designer: Anna Cordingley Lighting Designer: Gavan Swift Choreographer: Elizabeth Hill-Cooper
Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Season: 22 – 27 February 2020
Information and Bookings: www.victorianopera.com.au
Image: Vida Mikneviciute stars as Salome – photo by Martina Pipprich