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Foto: Ashley Taylor


Sought-after Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund delivers a furiously good Salome at the Vienna State Opera, where the highly visual French director Cyril Teste has created a spectacular, wildly dynamic production of Richard Strauss’ masterpiece.

Musically, it is a stunning operatic composition that both challenges and amazes the audience with its cinematic feel and atonal inferno of sound and effects.

Photo: Ashley Taylor

It took me a few years to mature enough to enjoy Strauss’s music, which I now savor for its innovative power and painterly drama. In Vienna’s famous Staatsoper, star Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan (49) gives Strauss’s extraordinary one-acts such a thrashing that you leave almost musically bruised.

You also risk scarring your soul. Salome leaves almost 2,000 audience members in the packed hall with an anxious sense of desperation and doom after 100 minutes of sexist behavior and roaring musical inferno.

Fortunately, it can be cured by applause  – and is! Rarely do I experience such enthusiastic resoponse for such a narrow and challenging work. The piano just plays differently in Vienna!

Photo: Michal Pöhn

Salome is a princess who has grown up fatherless under increasing sexual harassment from her stepfather Herod.

As a kind of psychological defense, she develops a strong, passionate attraction to the captured prophet Jochanaan (John the Baptist).

However, Jochanaan rejects the young princess, as he is the only one who sees her as the abused child she is, rather than a desirable goddess. This rejection leads to her enticing Herod to have him beheaded.

Director Cyril Teste brings Salome’s emotional torment to life as he tells the story of a powerful dynasty heading towards the ultimate moral decay and self-destruction that was always on the cards.

On stage, Camilla Nylund’s powerfully well-sung Salome is doubled by two silent alter egos, who together succeed in portraying the character as a child, teenager and adult woman.

Photo: Michal Pöhn

A clever move that solves the problem that sopranos with the physicality to sing the demanding part rarely work convincingly erotically in the key scene The Dance of the Seven Veils, where Salome seduces her powerful stepfather to deliver the prophet’s head on a silver platter.

Photo: Michal Pöhn

The iconic scene is brilliantly realized with incestuous dancing on tables blown up in live video on large rear screens in the tastefully decorated palace, where the action unfolds around a lavish dinner party before everything goes red and the end comes.

Photo: Michal Pöhn

A truly beautiful performance in a stunning scenography with tremendous scenic impact and psychological depth, topped by strong vocal performances from Nylund as Salome, Gerhard Siegel as Herod and Iain Patterson as Jochanaan.

Opera at the international top level that stays with you long after the curtain falls – and which scores five stars from GOT TO SEE THIS