Salomeby Richard Strauss
April 10,15, 18, 20, 24, 2010
Obsession, served on a silver platter.
Scandalously erotic, Strauss's infamous opera tells the Biblical story of obsession and vengeance. Salome lusts after the imprisoned prophet John the Baptist, who rejects her advances. Her lecherous stepfather, King Herod, vows to pay any price to watch her dance. She agrees, and perversely claims the prophet's head as her reward. Mlada Khudoley (Il trovatore) returns as the Biblical temptress.
Dates + Performancesat Ordway. Get directions
Join us for Opera Insights, a free prologue one hour prior to each opera performance. These entertaining and informative half-hour sessions, hosted by Artistic Director Dale Johnson or other artistic staffers in Ordway Center's mezzanine lobby. They give an overview of the characters and music, provide historical and cultural context for the opera and highlight certain aspects to watch for during the show.
Narraboth praises Salome's beauty as the page observes the moon and warns of an ominous future. Two soldiers watch Herod as he stares at Salome during dinner and comment on the man in the cistern. He is John the Baptist, known in Hebrew as Jokanaan, a prophet who wandered the desert until he was imprisoned by Herod for slandering his wife Herodias and for fear of his heretical beliefs.
Salome enters, disgusted by her stepfather's lecherous glances, the bickering Jews and the uncouth Romans. She hears the voice of Jokanaan and is intrigued. Though no one is allowed to see him, Salome uses her seductive charm on Narraboth. Jokanaan is brought before her and speaks of Herodias' incest, for she has married the brother of her first husband, a violation of Jewish canon. He ignores Salome's flirtations until he learns she is Herodias' daughter. Narraboth is horrified by Salome's blatant advances and kills himself, hoping to allay her abhorrent behavior. The prophet continues to hurl insults at Salome as he repels her desire to kiss his mouth. He returns to the cistern as Salome, now insulted, momentarily conceals her thirst for revenge.
Herod and Herodias come out onto the terrace. The tetrarch slips on Narraboth's blood and senses a portentous omen. Still entranced by her beauty, Herod offers Salome refreshments, which she curtly refuses. Overhearing Jokanaan's denunciations, Herodias demands that he be silenced, but Herod refuses, believing he could be a holy man. Five Jews debate that theory. Two Nazarenes tell of the man whom Jokanaan believes to be the Son of God and of the miracles he has performed, putting more fear into Herod's mind. Still, he will not silence Jokanaan, to Herodias' exasperation.
Herod asks Salome to dance, but she refuses. He then offers her anything she wants and she agrees, performing a seductive dance to Herodias' objections. Afterwards, she names her prize - the head of Jokanaan. Herod is mortified and offers everything in his realm rather than kill the supposed prophet, but Salome will not budge. Delighted, Herodias slips the ring of death off the tetrarch's finger and gives it to the executioner, who performs the grisly task. Offered the head on a silver charger, Salome claims the prize that was denied earlier - the kiss from Jokanaan's lips. Absolutely revolted, Herod orders his soldiers to crush her to death with their shields.
The Creative Team
|Stage Director and Choreographer||David Lefkowich|
|Set and Lighting Designer||Steve TenEyck|
|Costume Designer||Jennifer Caprio|
|Projections Designer||Miko S. Simmons|
|Jokanaan, the prophet John the Baptist||Jason Howard|
|Herod, Tetrarch of Judea; Salome's stepfather||Dennis Petersen|
|Herodias, Salome's mother||Elizabeth Byrne|
|Narraboth, captain of the guard||Christian Reinert|
|Herodias' page||Nicole Percifield|
|Five Jews||Brad Benoit, Dan Dressen,|
|Richard Joseph, Brian J. Kuhl,
|Two soldiers||Jonathan Kimple, Rodolfo Nieto|
|Two Nazarenes||Obed Floan, Seth Keeton|
|A cappadocian||Jeffrey Madison|
|A slave||Naomi Isabel Ruiz|
|Royal guests and their entourage, servants,|
|A great terrace in Herod's palace on|
|Lake Galilee in the first century A.D.|
Brad Benoit (Third Jew)
Tenor Brad Benoit joined the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist Program last fall, after attending the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist Program, where he covered the role of the Novice in Billy Budd. Other training programs to his credit include those at the Chicago Opera Theater and the Staunton Music Festival. Mr. Benoit is a graduate of Chicago College of the Performing Arts and has sung several roles there: Cecco in Il mondo della luna, the Lyric Tenor in Postcard from Morocco, the Prologue in The Turn of the Screw and La Théièry in L'enfant et les sortilèges. He has also performed the roles of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Opera in the Ozarks and Roméo in Roméo et Juliette and Hadji in Lakmé at his undergraduate alma mater, Loyala University. This past summer he performed in The Tender Land with Sugar Creek Symphony & Song.
On the concert platform, Mr. Benoit has been a guest soloist in Bach's Magnificat for Music by the Lake, Bach's Cantata No. 140 for the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra and the Midsummer Night Benefit for the Young Musicians for Young Humanitarians in Calistoga, California. For The Minnesota Opera last season, Brad sang Ruiz in Il trovatore, Arlecchino and Lampwick in The Adventures of Pinocchio and Count Almaviva in the alternate cast of The Barber of Seville. For his second season in Minnesota, Brad will appear as Gabriele in Casanova's Homecoming, Lord Cecil in Roberto Devereux, Parpingol in La bohème and the First Jew in Salome. Next season he returns in productions of La traviata and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Elizabeth Byrne (Herodias)
Established as one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos of her generation, the success of Elizabeth Byrne's first integral performances of the role of Brünnhilde in the new Tim Albery production of Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Scottish Opera was recognized by a Royal Philharmonic Society Award Nomination. Of her performances, The Scotsman reported, "This epic cycle has made a star out of soprano Elizabeth Byrne who has grown both vocally and dramatically into the role of Brünnhilde with electrifying results. She never fai
ls to create a frisson of excitement whenever she appears on stage – a wily and tense heroine whose power is understated but never in doubt." And of her appearance in Die Walküre at the Edinburgh Festival, Paul Griffiths of The New York Times wrote that "Ms. Byrne has a voice of flame and accuracy, the voice of a young person keenly in tune with herself, quick and 100 percent in her emotional responses. She also had vitality in her stage presence."
Jennifer Caprio (costume designer)
Broadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (also original National Tour, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston). Off-Broaday: In Transit (Primary Stages),Modern & Postmodern Living (La MaMa ETC), Signs of Life (Amas), Fugitive Songs (Dreamlight), Two Rooms (Theatre Row), Masked (DR2), Striking 12 (The Daryl Roth Theatre), Girl's Room starring Donna McKechnie & Carol Lawrence (QTIP), Wanda's World (Amas), Serendib (Ensemble Studio Theater), The Atheist (Center Stages, starring Star Trek's Chris Pine), Broadway Bares (BC/EFA), The Blowin' of Baile Gall (Gabriel Byrne). International: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Edinburgh Festival). Regional: Opera Boston, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Williamstown Theater Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dallas Theatre Center, Geva Theatre Center, Cleveland Playhouse, Vineyard Theatre, North Shore Music Theater, among others. Minnesota Opera: Roméo et Juliette; La bohème; Salome.
Dan Dressen (First Jew)
It was twenty-five years ago that tenor Dan Dressen first sang in a Minnesota Opera production. Since then he has performed many times with the Minnesota Opera, most recently the roles of the Marquis de Lisle in Casanova's Homecoming, Elcius in the American premiere of The Fortunes of King Croesus, Grampa in the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath, the Doctor in Poul Ruder's The Handmaid's Tale, Gastone in La traviata, Abraham Kaplan inStreet Scene, Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro, Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalierand Sellem in The Rake's Progress. Other opera engagements include performances with Washington Opera and its productions of Carmen and the world premiere of Dominick Argento's The Dream of Valentino and with The Lyric Opera of Cleveland in La bohème. Mr. Dressen is an original member of Nautilus Music Theater with which he performed the role of the Man in Snow Leopard by William Harper and the role of the Baker in Sondheim's Into The Woods.
Oben Floan (Second Nazarene)
Tenor Obed Floan began his singing career at the very early age of 3. Through his studies as a music major at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Obed performed in numerous opera productions including the Second Priest in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro and the Mayor in Britten's Albert Herring. As a recipient of the Berneking Fellowship, in 2008, he was accepted into the Master's Degree program at the University of Minnesota and has since performed the role of Laça in the university's production of Janácek's Jenůfa.
Elsewhere, Mr. Floan has been a guest artist with the St. Martin Chamber Players in Peoria, Illinois, and sang the role of King Kasper in its production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors and tenor soloist for the Philadelphia Chamber Chorus' performance of Schubert's Mass in A Flat and Handel's Messiah. He was also the tenor soloist at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, in the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio. Floan performed the role of Judge Gray in the Philadelphia staged debut Leslie Burrs' opera Vanqui and the role of Florestan for The Other Company's production of Beethoven's Fidelio in association with the Philly Fringe Festival.
Jason Howard (Jokanaan)
Jason Howard was born and raised in the rich singing tradition of South Wales. Having sung a wide repertoire from Mozart through Puccini to contemporary music, he now focuses on the Verdi repertoire and is noted for his portrayals of Rigoletto and Macbeth in particular. In addition to his long and fruitful relationship with his native Welsh National Opera, Jason Howard has worked with all the United Kingdom regional companies as well as the English National Opera and Covent Garden
Jason is a graduate of Trinity College of Music and the Royal College of Music Opera School. An outstanding performer, Jason Howard's appearances have generated unanimous critical acclaim. These performances include Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Germont in La traviata, all with Scottish Opera, the title role in Billy Budd and Showboat, both with Opera North.
Jason Howard's past operatic engagements include the title role of Rigoletto at Scottish Opera; Mourning becomes Elektra at the Seattle Opera and New York City Opera; Ned Keene/Peter Grimes at the Bastille; Germont/La traviata at English National Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, Opéra de Nantes and at Cincinnati Opera; Posa/Don Carlos in Minnesota; the title role of Rigoletto in Edmonton; the title role in Eugene Onegin for Welsh National Opera and in Ontario; Les pêcheurs des perles in Seattle; Marcello/La bohème at Covent Garden and in Geneva, Stuttgart, Opéra de Bastille – Paris, Toulouse and Seattle; Silvio/I pagliacci and Valentin/Faust at Welsh National Opera; di Luna/Il trovatore and Sharpless/Madama Butterfly at Scottish Opera; Escamillo/Carmen in Hamilton and at L'Opéra de Nancy.
Jason Howard's concert appearances include Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder and with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Die erste Walpurgisnacht with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Elgar's The Kingdom at the Royal Festival Hall, Peter Grimes under the baton of Rostropovich with the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as numerous opera galas in London. He has also appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis in performances of Les Troyens, and in The Gondoliers at the BBC Proms.
His recordings include The Student Prince, The Song of Norway, A Little Night Music, Showboat, Calamity Jane and The King & I for TER, and alongside José Carreras and Josephine Barstow in recital discs for Sony and Decca respectively. A compact disc of Jason Howard, singing songs from Hollywood musicals, has recently been released on Silva Screen Records.
Past engagements include The Tempest (Opéra National du Rhin, Strasbourg), Death in Venice (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires), Alfio/Cavalleria rusticana and Tonio/I Pagliacci at Welsh National Opera, Wotan/Das Rheingold (Opèra National du Rhin, Strasbourg), Escamillo/Carmen (Edmonton Opera), Orestes/Elektra and Wotan/Die Walküre (Opéra National du Rhin) and Carbon 12 (a new commission by leading Welsh composer Errolyn Warren) with Welsh National Opera.
Last season Jason sang the Dutchman in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer with Edmonton Opera, Wotan/Siegfried for Opéra National du Rhin and Jokanaan/Salome (Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos in Lisbon) and Marcello/La bohème (Welsh National Opera). He also sang the role of Emile de Becque in a national tour of South Pacific, an engagement he will reprise this season.
This season, Jason will sing the role of Jokanaan/Salomé for Minnesota Opera and Wotan/Die Walküre with Longborough Opera.
Future plans include Scarpia/Tosca and Jack Rance/La fanciulla del West, both for Oper Stadtische Buhnen in Frankfurt.
Emmanuel Joel-Hornak (conductor)
Renowned French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak has led major orchestras around the world in opera and orchestral works. He recently conducted productions with English National Opera, Aix-en -Provence Festival, NBR New Zealand Opera, Scottish Opera, New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, L'Opéra National de Paris-Bastille, the Wexford Festival, as well as the conducting the leading opera companies of Lyon, Nantes, Montpellier, Toulouse, Sydney and Strasbourg. He made his United States opera debut in San Francisco Opera's production of Carmen during the 1996-1997 Season, and was immediately re-engaged to conduct San Francisco's productions of Don Carlo and La bohème in the following seasons.
Maestro Joel-Hornak's American career continues in recent years with La traviata at the New York City Opera, Werther at the Los Angeles Opera with Ramon Vargas,Faust with Cincinnati Opera, Don Pasquale with Simone Alaimo and Ruth Ann Swenson at the Los Angeles Opera, Manon with Elisabeth Futral at the Houston Grand Opera, Samson et Dalila with Olga Borodina and Sergey Larin with the San Francisco Opera, Vanessa at the Washington National Opera with Kiri Te Kanawa,Roméo et Juliette at the Pittsburgh Opera with Marcello Giordani, La grande duchesse de Gérolstein with Opera Company of Philadelphia, and a return to the Houston Grand Opera for Roméo et Juliette with Ramón Vargas and Ana Maria Martinez.
In the fall 2008, he returned to Opera Australia in Sydney for Les pêcheurs de perles, marking his eighth engagement with the company, as well as conducting a new production of La traviata at the Scottish Opera directed by David McVicar. For the Christmas Holidays 2008, Maestro Joel-Hornak conducted a new production of La Périchole at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, and in the spring 2009, he conducted Les contes d'Hoffmann at Opéra de Nice, La traviata at Scottish Opera and Carmen at the New Israeli Opera of Tel Aviv. In the 2009–2010 season, engagements include Les contes d'Hoffmann at Opera Colorado, Les brigands at the Opéra National de Bordeaux, La Périchole at Opéra de Lausanne, and La bohèmeand Salome at Minnesota Opera, as well as Il trovatore at the Opéra National de Bordeaux in 2011.
In the 2007–2008 season, he conducted Les contes d'Hoffmann and Les pêcheurs de perles with the Australian Opera in Melbourne, a new production of Roméo et Juliette at the Opéra de Toulon-Provence Méditerranée, a new production of Faust at the Opéra National de Bordeaux, La bohème with the NBR New Zealand Opera and a symphonic concert with the Auckland Philamornia Orchestra. The 2006–2007 season included two major company debuts: first, a new production of Faust in his NBR New-Zealand Opera debut in Wellington and Auckland, and then made his Pittsburgh Opera debut conducting Roméo et Juliette with Marcello Giordani. He then returned to the Opéra de Lausanne to conduct Paisiello's Il barbiere di Siviglia in the production of the Théâtre de la Monnaie-Bruxelles, as well as a symphonic concert with the Auckland Philarmonia Orchestra. In the 2005–2006, Maestro Joel-Hornak made his company debut at Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden in Germany for a new production of Carmen, his Opera Leipzig debut in Les contes d'Hoffmann, returned to the English National Opera for La belle Hélène with Dame Felicity Lott in the Laurent Pelly production.
Additional noted engagements from recent seasons include Carmen at the Royal Opera of Stockholm, Thaïs at the Barbican of London with Elisabeth Futral, Massenet's Don Quixote, Les pêcheurs de perles and La bohème with the English National Opera, Werther at the Oslo Opera, Pelléas et Mélisande in Gothenburg,Manon and Il trovatore at the Sydney Opera, his Tiroler Landestheater debut in Innsbruck with Don Carlo and Massenet's Chérubin, Carmen at the Royal Opera of Stockholm, Pelléas et Mélisande in Toulouse, Dialogues des Carmélites in Gothenburg and Oslo, Ernani with the Nederland's Reise Opera, Il trittico in Nantes,Berlioz's Béatrice et Benedict in Lausanne, Faust in Marseilles, La fanciulla del Westin Montpellier, Roméo et Juliette at the Opéra National du Rhin-Strasbourg, Samson et Dalila and Barraud's Marouf in Marseilles and Orphée aux enfers at the Teatro Regio di Torino. In addition, he has lead productions of Thomas's Hamlet in Torino, La belle Hélène, Aïda and Nabucco with Scottish Opera in Edinburgh, Werther and Madama Butterfly with New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, Chausson's Le roi Arthus and Samson et Dalila in Montpellier and Sydney, Carmen at the Jerusalem Festival andSemele and Les pêcheurs de perles with Melbourne's Victoria State Opera. At the L'Opéra National de Paris-Bastille, he made his debut with Offenbach's Les brigands, as well as his debut at the Wexford Festival in Boieldieu's La dame blanche and in Dublin for Delibes's Lakmé.
In concert, Maestro Joel-Hornak has led the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne at the Montreux Festival, Orchestre de Bretagne, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie in Brussels, Orchestre Colonne and Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France in Paris, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lithuania at the Vilnius Festival, the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino, Het Gelders Orkest in Arnhem, the Philarmonisches Orchester Dortmund, l'Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse and Auckland Philamornia Orchestra.
Richard Lawrence Joseph (Second Jew)
Tenor Richard Lawrence Joseph recently made his Minnesota Opera role debut as the Charlatan in Casanova's Homecoming last fall. Previously, he has appeared as Bardolfo in Falstaff and Dudley in John Davis' Little Red's Most Unusual Day at his alma mater, Florida State University, where he also obtained his master's degree. Additionally, he has performed Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof for Clearwater Christian College.
Mr. Joseph was 2008 Gerdine Young Artist for Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where he covered the role of Giovanni in Martín y Soler's Una cosa rara and sang the Watchman in Walton's Troilus and Cressida. He currently teaches voice at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Grace Music Academy.
Seth Keeton (First Nazarene)
Bass-baritone Seth Keeton's performances have been described by The New York Times as "driven" and "emotionally pointed." He has performed roles on the stages of the Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Arizona Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and Opera Omaha, Chautauqua Opera, Opera North and Theater Bremen in Bremen, Germany.
Mlada Khudoley (Salome)
Born in Moscow, Mlada Khudoley graduated from the Russian Academy of Performing Arts as an actor and solo vocalist. Ms. Khudoley was the diploma winner of numerous different international vocal competitions. In 1998, Ms. Khudoley received the stipendium from the Wagner International Society in Bayreuth. Also in 1998, Ms. Khudoley made her Mariinsky Theatre stage debut in the title role of Salome and as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer.
Ms. Khudoley has toured with the Mariinsky Company at Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, New Israeli Opera, Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Festspeilhaus Baden-Baden, the Cardiff Millennium Center, Bolshoi Theatre, the Amsterdam Concertgebow and others.
Ms. Khudoley has performed Lisa in Pique Dame at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Senta in Der fliegende Hollander with Los Angeles Opera and Teatro Massimo (Palermo), and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser at Tokyo Opera Nomori. Ms. Khudoley has performed the title role of Salome with Dallas Opera, Gulbenkian Center (Lisbon, Portugal), Latvian National Opera, Lithuanian National Orchestra and Vancouver Opera. In the future, she will sing Salome with Minnesota Opera and the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto (Japan).
Ms. Khudoley has been honored to perform with Valery Gergiev, Seigi Ozawa, Heinz Fricke, Lawrence Foster, Symon Bychkov, Antonello Allemandi, Gianadrea Noseda, Pavel Kogan, Alexander Rudin, Gabriele Ferro, Marco Boemi, Gintaras Rinkiavichus, Andrej Nelsons and many others.
Ms. Khudoley shared the stage with Maestro Plácido Domingo, Larissa Diadkova, Anna Netrebko, Elena Garanca, Vladimir Galouzine, Matti Salminen, Nicolai Putilin, Bernd Weikl, Kurt Rydl, Linda Watson, Michelle DeYoung, Stephen Gould, Judith Forst, Vassily Gerello, Gerald Finely, Andrea Silverstrelli and many others.
She is the recipient of the Singer of the Year Award from St. Petersburg Theatrical Society, for the role of Sieglinde, performed with Maestro Plácido Domingo in 2001.
Recently, Ms. Khudoley sang Salome's monologue at the Gala opening of the Opernhaus Graz season 2009–2010. This performance was telecast on Austrian television.
In the fall 2009, Ms. Khudoley debuted the roles Kaiserin Die Frau ohne Schatten, a new and Cassandre in Les Troyens, both new productions at the Mariinsky Theatre. Ms. Khudoley also recently sang with the Mariinsky Theatre in roles/productions of Aida/Aida, Lisa/Pique Dame, Renata/The Fiery Angel and a special concert performance of Die Walküre at the Cardiff Millennium Centre, starring Bryn Terfel (Wotan) and conducted by Maestro Gergiev.
On January 3, 2010, Ms. Khudoley recorded the Stravinsky ballet Les Noces with Maestro Valery Gergiev for future release on the Mariinsky recording label. She will perform this work with the New York Philharmonic in April.
January 2010, Ms. Khudoley sang Abigaille in Nabucco with Teatr Wielki (Warsaw). In February, she sang Aida at the 28th Annual Shalyapin International Opera Festival in Kazan, Russia.
In April 2010, Ms. Khudoley returns to Minnesota Opera performing the title role of Salome. She will later sing the role of Abigaille in Nabucco for the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen. In 2011, Ms. Khudoley will debut the role of Katerina in Lady McBeth at Mtsensk with Opernhaus Graz and Komische Oper Berlin.
This summer Mlada will record the role of Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten on the Mariinsky recording label, conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev. The 2009 Mariinsky label recording of The Nose was nominated for a best classical recording for the Grammy Awards.
Jonathan Kimple (Second Soldier)
Bass-baritone Jonathan Kimple recently completed Portland Opera's Studio Artist Program, where he sang the roles of Giove in Cavalli's La Calisto, Count Ceprano inRigoletto and the Marchese d'Obigny in La traviata while covering the role of Don Pizarro in Fidelio. As a Santa Fe Apprentice Artist, Mr. Kimple covered the roles of Farasmane in Handel's Radamisto, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Alcindoro/Benoit in La bohème. For Sarasota Opera he has sung Count Ceprano inRigoletto and covered Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. Other credits include the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance for Virginia Opera, Colline (cover) inLa bohème for Dicapo Opera and the Grand Prêtre in Antonio Sacchini's Oedipe à Colone for Opera Lafayette.
Originally from central Iowa, Mr. Kimple obtained his bachelor of music degree from the University of Maryland and his master of music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where he performed the roles of William Emmons in The Village Singerand Simone in Gianni Schicchi. He has also attended the Music Academy of the West, covering Don Profondo for its production of Il viaggio a Reims. As a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist, Mr. Kimple will sing Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers, the Second Inquisitor and Tartaglia in Casanova's Homecoming, Gualtiero Raleigh in Roberto Devereux, Colline in La bohème and the Second Soldier in Salome. Next season he returns for productions of Mary Stuart, La traviata and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Brian J. Kuhl (Fourth Jew)
Mr. Kuhl is a recent participant in the Des Moines Metro Opera's James M. Collier Apprentice Artist Program where he sang Billy in Mahagonny Songspiel. He also holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Saint John's University.
David Lefkowich (stage director and choreographer)
David Lefkowich is an accomplished stage director and fight choreographer and has enjoyed success with different companies including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Colorado, Gotham Chamber Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. He has had the honor of working with visionaries including Julie Taymor, Robert Lepage, Robert Woodruff and John Conklin. Recent projects include directing The Rake's Progress at La Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown (off-Broadway), Don Giovanni at the Ravinia Music Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and L'histoire du soldat with the Juilliard School and the Ravinia Music Festival both with Maestro James Conlon conducting. Last year he made his European debut directing Le portrait de Manon at the Gran Teatre Liceu in Barcelona, Spain. Other new productions include directing and choreographing Roméo et Juliette (Minnesota Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Tampa), La traviata (Lake George Opera) and Le portrait de Manon (Glimmerglass Opera). He was also thrilled to fight direct the world premieres of Appomattox (Philip Glass) at San Francisco Opera and Miss Lonelyhearts at the Juilliard Opera Center, La fanciulla del west at the New York City Opera and the New York off-Broadway run of A Clockwork Orange. David is a Lecturer at Ithaca College School of Music where he directs and teaches classes in acting and movement. He is a guest artist and performs master classes at several young artist programs and universities including Florida Grand Opera Young Artist Program, Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artist Program, the Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory and McGill School of Music. A graduate from Northwestern University with a bachelor's in the science in theatre, David has a certificate from École Jacques-Lecoq in Paris, France. Upcoming engagements include directing Il trovatore at Fort Worth Opera Festival, Le nozze di Figaro for the Ravinia Festival and Tosca for Boston Lyric Opera.
Jeffrey Madison (A cappadocian)
Baritone Jeffrey Madison is a dynamic performer equally at home on the operatic, musical theater and concert stage. Most recently, Mr. Madison performed the role of Father in Hänsel und Gretel with the Minnesota Orchestra, Marcello in the West Virginia Symphony's production of La bohème, Bottom for Seattle Opera Young Artist's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the title role of Falstaff as a guest artist with UCLA Opera Theater, Malatesta for Skylark Opera's production ofDon Pasquale, Albert in Werther with Chautauqua Opera and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro with the Minnesota Opera. Upcoming performances include Danilo in The Merry Widow with Skylark Opera and Angelotti in Tosca with the Minnesota Orchestra. Mr. Madison returned to the Minnesota Opera this season as Shaunard in La bohème.
Rodolfo Nieto (First Soldier)
Bass-baritone Rodolfo Nieto most recently appeared as Don Alfonso for Cedar Rapids Opera Theater's production of Così fan tutte. Other roles for that company include the Imperial Commissioner in Madame Butterfly and Pooh-Bah in The Mikado. During the 2008 season he was an Opera Colorado Young Artist, where he sang the roles of Don Magnifico and Alidoro in Cinderella and Godofredo in La Curandera for its outreach program. In 2007, Mr. Nieto appeared as Gravitas in the world premiere of Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings at Theatre@Boston Court.
Mr. Nieto attended Northwestern University, where he performed as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and Simone in Gianni Schicchi. At Luther College, he has sung the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. As a resident artist for the Minnesota Opera this season, Mr. Nieto appears as the Third Inquisitor and Spanish Captain in Casanova's Homecoming, the Friend of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux, Colline in La bohème and the First Guard in Salome. Next season he returns for productions ofMary Stuart, La traviata and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Michael Nyby (Fifth Jew)
Baritone Michael Nyby joins the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist Program after having spent this past summer as a part of the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist program. Previously, he has sung Moralès in Carmen for Vancouver Opera and Figaro in The Barber of Barkerville for Vancouver Opera in Schools. For Burnaby Lyric Opera, Mr. Nyby has sung Haly in The Italian Girl in Algiers and the title roles of Don Giovanni and Il barbiere di Siviglia for the European Music Academy of Teplice.
Mr. Nyby holds a master's degree in opera from the University of British Columbia, where he has sung the roles of Ford in Falstaff, Falke in Die Fledermaus and Cascada in The Merry Widow. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College, performing such roles Cascada, David in A Hand of Bridge, the Secret Police Agent in The Consul and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. He also appeared as Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi for the Ithaca Opera Company. For the Minnesota Opera's 2009–2010 season, Mr. Nyby will be appearing as the Montebank inCasanova's Homecoming, the Page in Roberto Devereux, Schaunard in La bohème and the Fifth Jew in Salome. Next season he returns for productions of Mary Stuart, La traviata and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Nicole Percifield (Herodias' page)
Mezzo-soprano Nicole Percifield is a recent graduate of New York's acclaimed Manhattan School of Music, where she performed a number of roles, including the Statue in Griffelkin, the title role in Araboolies of Liberty Street and Nancy Ford in The Village Singer. She has also been a Studio Artist at Central City Opera, singing the role of Esprit Cinq in Cendrillon and scenes from Werther (Charlotte) and Le Comte Ory (Isolier), at The Banff Centre and at the International Institute of Vocal Arts, singing the role of the Maestra delle Novizie in Suor Angelica and scenes from La Cenerentola (title role), Carmen (Mercédès), L'amico Fritz (Beppe) and Così fan tutte (Dorabella). At the New England Conservatory, Ms. Percifield performed the roles of Alma March in Little Women, La Principessa in Suor Angelica and the Sandman in Hansel and Gretel as well as scenes from The Ballad of Baby Doe (Augusta), Werther (Charlotte) and La Calisto (Diana). This past summer she was an apprentice artist in Opera Theatre of St. Louis' prestgious Gerdine Young Artists program. For the Minnesota Opera last season, Nicole was seen as Siébel in Faust and the Beetle Doctor in The Adventures of Pinocchio. For her second season as a resident artist, she returns to sing role the roles of Demofoonte in Casanova's Homecoming and the Page in Salome.
Dennis Petersen (Herod)
Through his innate sense of style, command of languages and superior acting abilities, tenor Dennis Petersen has distinguished himself in a variety of operatic roles, in addition to his appearances in concerts, recitals and oratorio performances.
His debut with the Seattle Opera as Mime in both Das Rheingold and Siegfried, August 2009, brought the highest accolades from Ring fans and critics alike ("... has emerged as one of the handful of superb character tenors, and his protrayal of the Siegfried Mime was masterful ... Petersen has a large attractive voice that one imagines could be employed in tenor lead roles in the French and early 19th centruy Italian repertories...." (August 2009, OperaWarhorses.com). Dennis toured Japan in summer 2008, singing the School Master in The Cunning Little Vixen under Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival. Recent seasons included the New York premiere of Dead Man Walking at New York City Opera, Turandot and Madama Butterfly for San Francisco Opera, Salome for Opera Pacific, the American premiere of The Handmaid's Tale with Minnesota Opera and Dead Man Walking for Michigan Opera Theatre. He appeared with San Francisco in Die Zauberflöte, Doktor Faust and The Cunning Little Vixen which he also sang with Lyric Opera of Chicago during the 2004–2005 season in addition to Mime in Das Rheingold. He returned to Chicago for additional performances of Rheingold and to the Met for Madame Butterfly and Salome before singing Mime in the 2009 Seattle Opera Ring Cycle.
The tenor's recent seasons saw him returning to Lyric Opera of Chicago for Die Zauberflöte, Die Fledermaus and Dialogues of the Carmelites and San Francisco Opera for Die Fledermaus and the new production of La forza del destino and to the Metropolitan Opera for Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa as well as revivals of The Gambler and War and Peace. With Spoleto Festival USA he appeared in the new productions of Mahagonny and Amistad.
Since making his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1995 as the Drunken Lout in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, he has been seen there on a regular basis in such roles as Bob Boles in Peter Grimes, Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte, Mime in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, The Merry Widow and War and Peace.
He has sung with San Francisco Opera nearly every year since 1985 in a variety of operas including Pique Dame, Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Andrea Chénier, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, Don Quichotte, Capriccio, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Pagliacci, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg, Roméo et Juliette, Boris Godunov, Lulu, L'incoronazione di Poppea, Prince Igor, Anna Bolena, Wozzeck and War and Peace. With the Lyric Opera of Chicago he has been in Die Fledermaus, Andrea Chénier, Salome, Das Rheingold and with the New York City Opera he has sung Lizzie Borden, Intermezzo and Roberto Devereux.
Mr. Petersen has appeared to great advantage with most of America's leading regional theaters: Opera Pacific (Der Rosenkavalier, Madame Butterfly, Salome), Minnesota Opera (George Antheil's Transatlantic, Der fliegende Holländer, Die Zauberflöte) Florida Grand Opera (Ariadne auf Naxos), New Orleans Opera (Tannhäuser, Le nozze di Figaro, Fidelio), Palm Beach Opera (Tannhäuser), Boston Lyric Opera (Herod in Salome),and the Spoleto Festival (Dido and Aeneas, Il duca d'Alba, Les contes d'Hoffmann). At Japan's Saito Kinen Festival he has sung Basilio in Figaro with Seiji Ozawa conducting. He has also sung concert performances of Tchaplitsky in Pique Dame and Salome with the Boston Symphony and Seiji Ozawa in Boston and in New York.
Orchestral appearances have included Bach's Magnificat with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the symphonies of Eugene and Columbus, the Messiah, Magnificat and Mozart Mass in C and Requiem with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under High Wolff, the Verdi Requiem with Cedar Rapids Symphony and St. Cloud Symphony, Haydn's Theresienmesse at both Spoleto Festivals, Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Times with New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall and performances with the New Jersey Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic.
A partial list of conductors Mr. Petersen has sung with include Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, Edo de Waart, Zubin Mehta, James Conlon, George Manahan, Andrew Davis, David Zinman, Mario Bernardi, John de Main, Fabio Luisi and Marco Armiliato.
A native of West Branch, Iowa he received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa before joining San Francisco Opera's Merola Program in 1984, where he was awarded the Karl Kritz Memorial Scholarship. Dennis currently resides in the country outside of Northfield, Minnesota with his wife Denise and their two dogs. They have two wonderful sons, Nicholas and Noah.
Christian Reinert (Narraboth)
Tenor Christian Reinert is quickly becoming known as an extremely talented and exciting tenor on the rise in the operatic world, his voice described by the New York Times as having "an appealing smoothness and assurance." Engagements for 2008–2009 included Cassio in Otello with Kentucky Opera, Edmondo in Manon Lescaut with New Orleans Opera and Alfredo in La traviata with Opera Birmingham. In 2010, Mr. Reinert will return to Minnesota Opera to sing Narraboth in its production of Salome and will cover the role of Ecclitico in Gotham Chamber Opera's production of Haydn's rarely seen Il mondo della luna.
In the summer of 2006, he gained critical acclaim after stepping into the role of Steva in Janacek's Jenůfa for an ailing colleague at Glimmerglass Opera where he was covering the role, as well as singing the Prussian Officer in the premiere performances of The Greater Good. He returned to Glimmerglass Opera in 2007 singing the roles of the Second Shepherd and Spirit in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and covering the role of Heurtebise in Phillip Glass's Orphée. The 2007-2008 season saw him as a Resident Artist with The Minnesota Opera where he sang the roles of Armfelt in Un ballo in maschera, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette and Eliates in The Fortunes of King Croesus. In the summer of 2008, he sang the role of Arturo and covered Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Ft. Worth Opera and made his debut in the role of Don José for Ashlawn Opera's Carmen. Engagements for 2008–2009 included Cassio in Otello with Kentucky Opera, Edmondo in Manon Lescaut with New Orleans Opera and Alfredo in La traviata with Opera Birmingham.
Miko S. Simmons (projections designer)
Miko Simmons is an international award-winning multimedia artists/composer who has been innovating in the convergence of film/animation and theater production for more than fifteen years. In Minnesota he has worked with the Guthrie Theater, Walker Art Center, Southern Theater and Intermedia Arts; nationally at Boston Computer Museum, MJJackson Productions Los Angeles, and internationally in Korea, Japan, Russia, Spain and Australia, to name a few. An abbreviated production list includes: Theater/Dance: Count of Monte Cristo the Musical (Seoul Korea; Robert Johanson, director); Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Robert Johanson, director); Guthrie Theater productions, Caviar on Credit, Postcards from Earth, Confluence, Bring Love to my Doorstep (Marcela Lorca, director); Hiroshima Aftermath (Sachiko Nishiuchi, director), S'kin (Dawn Renae Jones, director); Southern Theater, Angels in the Castle (Risa Cohen, director); Zorongo Flamenco, Noche Oscura (Susana di Palma, director). Galleries/Museums: Walker Art Center; Soviet National Academy of Sciences, Moscow; Boston Computer Museum; C.A.G.E Gallery, Cincinnati; Institutio de Estudios, Barcelona; Universidad de Salamanca Facultad de Balles Artes, Spain; Adelaide Fine Arts Festival, Australia. Film/Television/other: Earth Wind and Fire World Tour, Maya Angelou, Sinbad, Tim Reid Productions, New Millennium Studios, Tom Clancy Productions, Showtime Pictures Linc's (Debbie Allen Director).
Steve TenEyck (lighting designer)
Steve TenEyck design work in theatre, opera, performance art and live event has been seen both nationally and internationally. Companies include Syracuse Stage, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, TACT-NYC, Big Art Group NYC, Tacoma Opera, Syracuse Opera, The Kitchen Theatre Company, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Tri-Cities Opera and The Herson Group. Beyond maintaining a busy freelance career, Steve teaches lighting design at Ithaca College in Ithaca New York. He received his MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Music by Richard Strauss
Libretto after Hedwig Lachmann’s
German translation of Oscar Wilde’s play
World premiere at the Hofoper, Dresden
December 9, 1905
April 10, 15, 18, 20 and 24, 2010
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Sung in German with English captions
In 1904, Richard Strauss was chiefly known for his evocative tone poems. Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Also sprach Zarathustra and Don Quixote had made his name as a master of the orchestra, but his first two operatic attempts, Guntram (1894) and Feuersnot (1901) had not achieved the notoriety he had hoped for as a potential successor to Richard Wagner, the German Titan whose works were now at the height of their popularity worldwide. Like many composers (Gustav Mahler, to name one), he had to supplement his creative spirit with income earned as a conductor, in this case for Berlin’s royal family at the court opera house. Salome would change all of that.
Strauss became familiar with the subject when a young poet, Anton Lindner, sent him a German translation of the Oscar Wilde play – in fact, he was captivated by the opening lines (“How beautiful Princess Salome looks tonight”) and began to set them to music in his head. But it was a production by Max Reinhardt, with a translation by Hedwig Lachmann, that truly captured his attention. Reinhardt was in the early stages of his career, but was already demonstrating his consummate skill as an impresario that would make him one of the most famous directors of the early 20th century. His production of Salome would achieve a monumental run of over 200 performances at Berlin’s Deutsches Theater.
If only Oscar Wilde had been so lucky. His drama, said to have been intended for the legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt, was postponed in Paris and banned in London due to its biblical subject matter (to be fair, other works, such as Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila shared a similar fate). By the time it reached the French Théâtre de l’Oeuvre in 1896, Wilde had been imprisoned for “gross indecency,” and the once famous playwright, now insolvent, would not see a public production in his lifetime. Bernhardt, well known for such strong female leads as Tosca, Théodora and Cléopatre, would never have the opportunity to realize the complex psychosexual role of Salome.
Historically, the story of Salome gives us very little basis for those emotions. Passages in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew mention a nameless girl who danced for Tetrarch Herod, demanded the head of John the Baptist and presented it to her mother. A contemporary historian, Flavius Josephus in his The Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews, gave Salome a name (believed to be derived, oddly, from Shalom, or peace) and a family ancestry, including a life and marriage after the “Baptist incident.” The beheading, along with other biblical decapitation stories, was frequently realized by Renaissance and Baroque painters, then took a hiatus when religious depictions in art fell out of fashion. Writers and artists of the 19th century, particularly in France, took a renewed interest in Salome and her mother. Herodias had taken on a rather abominable reputation by that time for divorcing her first husband, Herod Philippus, and marrying his brother Herod Antipas. In a power coup, Herod imprisoned his sibling, who was once Tetrarch of Judea (according to Wilde’s play, in the very cistern in which Jokanaan resided), and then executed (again, according Wilde, strangled after waiting for 12 years for him to expire naturally). In Atta Troll, Heinrich Heine tells of Herodias’ lust for the prophet’s head and in Joseph Converse Heywood’s dramatic poem Salome, Herodias threatens the life of Salome’s husband Sextus if she does not complete the task (at the end, Salome is absolved by Jesus Christ). But it was the French Decadent frame-of-mind that would explore Herodias’ depravity to its fullest. Gustave Flaubert and Stéphane Mallarmé both produced Herodias (Flaubert’s text would be set to music by Jules Massenet in 1881). More intrigued by Salome’s role in the murder, Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau produced a series of artworks depicting various stages of the beheading. These intrigued Joris-Karl Huysmans, in his novel A rebours, to have his ennui-debilitated artist-protagonist Jean des Esseintes become obsessed with Moreau’s paintings, describing them in great detail.
Des Esseintes wasn’t the only one fascinated by Moreau’s works. Oscar Wilde made a point of viewing them during a lengthy stay in France. He was already aware of Huysmans’ narrative after having read it while at university. Responding to the Symbolist vein in literature (Maurice Maeterlinck, of Pelléas et Mélisande fame, being one of the most important proponents), Wilde produced his drama, complemented by flowery language and Symbolist word repetition. The moon, a potent icon of mental instability (and an image frequently employed by the Symbolists) provides a framework for erratic behavior – every member of Herod’s little cosmos is haunted by it, except the dry realist Herodias (“the moon is just the moon”). Nearly every character is obsessed with someone or something – the page with Narraboth (the homosexual overtones expunged from Strauss’ opera), Narraboth and Herod with Salome, Salome with Jokanaan, Jokanaan with God, Herodias with revenge.
Perhaps still emulating Wagner, Strauss prepared his own libretto, working from the Lachmann translation. He deleted about forty percent of Wilde’s original text, including much of the word repetition and a key scene describing the murder of Herod’s brother. This sets up the ring ritual when Herodias stealthily removes it to give to the executioner, thus initiating Jokanaan’s sentence of death.
Musically, Strauss pulls out all the stops. Employing one of his largest orchestras (second only to the forthcoming Elektra), Strauss colors his entire musical palette with the full range of every section. Often described as a tone poem for voice, Strauss’ score is harmonically complex with harsh tonalities and recurrent melodies attached to specific people and things (and one structural one, the infamous “Salome chord,” a signifier of death). Looking to the future, Strauss’ proto-expressionist opera would have a profound impact on composers of the early 20th century, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky and Alban Berg among them.
In spite of its strong subject matter that reaches its apex in Salome’s dramatic monologue as she holds the head of John the Baptist (sometimes referred to in Wagnerian terminology as a “necrophiliac Liebestod”), the opera was a hit with the audience at its premiere. Nonetheless, critics were abusive to Strauss’ new musical voice and future producers were skittish. In New York, the production was banned after a single performance at the Metropolitan Opera. A belated London staging had Salome singing her triumphant demand for a kiss to a headless plate of blood. After the Berlin premiere, Kaiser Wilhelm is to have said, “I believe this will cause Strauss some trouble,” after which Strauss was to have later retorted, “The harm helped me build my villa in Garmisch.”
b Munich, June 11, 1864; d Garmisch, September 8, 1949
Known informally as the "second Richard" or the "other Strauss," Richard Strauss rose to become the most important composer of German opera in the early 20th century. Living in the shadow of Richard Wagner (the first Richard, after whom there could be no second) and Johann Strauss, Jr. (no relation), Strauss advanced melodic and harmonic theories, while at the same time looking over a sentimental shoulder toward the waltz king's Viennese dramaturgy and stagecraft.
Strauss was Bavarian, born to a wealthy mother and a musical father. Franz Strauss, a noted horn player in the court orchestra, occasionally was called upon as a principal horn for Wagner's operas at Bayreuth. Although he performed in a number of Wagner premieres, father Strauss considered the much-venerated composer's music to be cacophonic and "modern," discouraging his young son from paying it much mind. But Richard would not obey his father's orders, and as a teen who had been studying music since age four, he was completely consumed by Tristan und Isolde.
Strauss had the good fortune to serve as assistant conductor to Hans von Bülow at Meiningen, which led to various postings in Munich, Bayreuth and Weimar. Eventually he would assume prestigious positions at the Berlin Court Opera and the Vienna State Opera, as well as conduct major orchestras around Europe and the Americas. To the early part of his career belong his famous works for the orchestra – the tone poems. The latter part of his career would be devoted almost exclusively to the voice, either in song or in opera.
To compose opera in Germany at the end of the 19th century was to follow the Wagnerian model, both writing one's own libretto, then composing music to it. Strauss' first opera, Guntram, was cast in that mold, complete with characters based on Teutonic history. It was not a huge success, but the opera received courteous acknowledgement from Giuseppe Verdi, to whom Strauss had sent the score. It was also during Guntram that Strauss announced his engagement to soprano Pauline de Ahna, who sang the leading female role at the premiere. Many found Pauline's temperament to be tempestuous, even shrewish, but somehow, offset by the composer's gentle manner, the marriage stood the test of time.
Strauss' next opera, Feuersnot, was based on a bawdy Flemish legend and initiated a trend of indelicate themes that pervade many Strauss operas. The opera that followed, Salome, displayed full-blown sexuality and was his first big succès du scandale.
In 1900, when he first saw Oscar Wilde's play Salomé, Strauss made an important contact with playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Hofmannsthal's own adaptation of Sophocles' Electra later would impress the composer when he saw it in a Max Reinhardt production. Strauss set the play to music, and a fruitful artistic partnership was born. As Strauss elaborated, "Your style has so much in common with mine. We were made for each other, and we are sure to do fine things together if you remain faithful to me."
Elektra was also a success but not quite to the same degree as Salome. Its relentless dramatic impetus and biting tonality may have been too barbaric for audiences of the day. For their next project, Strauss wanted a comedy in the vein of Mozart. Der Rosenkavalier, complete with basso buffo and en travesti (pants) roles undercut with a persistent Viennese waltz, easily fit the bill. It is perhaps their most popular and enduring work.
For the next collaboration, the librettist envisioned a new adaptation of Molière's Le bourgeois gentilhomme, supported with incidental music by Strauss and followed by a short opera. The double bill failed to please, with the theater-going audiences being unreceptive to opera and vice versa. The work was revised considerably, jettisoning the Molière play and refashioning Ariadne auf Naxos into an opera-within-an-opera. The new version fared much better.
Hofmannsthal and Strauss' next collaborations were varied in their themes and forms. Die Frau ohne Schatten is a Gozzi-esque fairy tale about a mythical empress who must procure a shadow in order to save her husband from turning to stone. Die ägyptische Helena concerns Helen of Troy's post-war marital problems. Arabella was intended as another Viennese comedy, styled to become a second Rosenkavalier. It was to be their last collaboration. While dressing for his son's funeral, Hofmannsthal died of a stroke, leaving the words for Arabella's second and third acts in draft form. Strauss set the unfinished text as an homage to his colleague, and the opera premiered in 1933. Apart from Hofmannsthal, Strauss wrote and composed Intermezzo, based on a real-life misunderstanding between him and Pauline that almost led to divorce.
Much has been made about Strauss' activities following the Nazi's rise to power. The composer's appointment by Joseph Gœbbels to the Reichsmusikkammer as its president and his decisions to conduct in place of Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter attracted criticism, though he emphatically stated it was for the sake of German music and not due to any political agenda.
Like many Jewish artists, Strauss' next librettist, Stefan Zweig, suffered religious persecution, and their opera, Die schweigsame Frau (based on a play by Shakespeare contemporary Ben Jonson), encountered some difficulties as a result. Zweig chose to leave Germany but presented Joseph Gregor as a replacement and was still able to influence Strauss' works from a distance. Together the new team produced Friedenstag, an opera set in 17th-century Austria at the end of the Thirty Years War; Daphne, a subject again steeped in mythology (and Strauss' tip-of-the-hat to Peri's Dafne, reportedly the first opera ever written); and Die Liebe der Danae, another mythical tale fusing the Greek legend of Danae with that of King Midas.
Capriccio was Strauss' last opera, a "conversation with music" based on Giovanni Battista Casti's 18th-century text for Antonio Salieri's Prima la musica, e poi le parole. Its premiere occurred before Danae's, however, as the considerably shorter Capriccio could be played before the nightly air raids commenced. Four years after the war and cleared by the denazification board, Strauss died in his sleep at his Bavarian villa. Pauline died one year later, just nine days before the premiere of Strauss' monumental Four Last Songs.
Goldberg, Silja, Nielsen, Hale, van der Walt
Schønwandt; Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Nilsson, Hoffmann, Gerhard Stolze, Kmentt, Wächter, Krause, Douglas, Proebstl, MaiklSolti; Wiener Philharmoniker
Terfel, Malfitano, Schwarz, Riegel, Begley
von Dohnányi, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Norman, Leech, Morris, Witt, Raffeiner
Ozawa; Staatskapelle Dresden
Nicholas John, editor
English National Opera Guide – No. 37: Salome/Elektra
Derrick Puffett, editor
Richard Strauss: Salome
Cambridge University Press
Norman Del Mar
Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary – Vol. 1
Cornell University Press
The Complete Operas of Richard Strauss
Da Capo Press
Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma
Cambridge University Press
FOR MORE INFORMATION
A class devoted to Salome will be held on Monday, March 29, 2010, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Call 612-333-6669 for registration information or visit mnopera.org/learn/classes.