When it debuted in Dresden in 1905, Richard Strauss’ Opus 54, Salome, received 38 curtain calls, and audiences leaped out of their chairs, swayed by hauntingly beautiful music.
Yet despite the visceral success of the Austrian composer’s one-act opera, censors in his home city of Vienna, didn’t take to Salome and shunned Strauss – more out of egos, maybe, than the charged erotic content. Thirteen years after Dresden, Salome premiered at the Vienna Opera House.
Based on Oscar Wilde’s 1893 “tragedy in one act” and translated from French to English by “Bosie”, British poet Lord Alfred Douglas, Salome introduced audiences to one of the most controversial and seductive characters of the biblical age: daughter of Herod II and Herodias and referred to in the New Testament as “the dancing woman.”
After more than a century of curtain calls and performances in the world’s most prestigious theatres, Salome will dance for Colombian audiences when the first-ever production opens this month at the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo. At the helm of the musical direction is Spaniard Josep Caballé Domenech, and the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (OFB) will interpret the opulent melodies of Richard Strauss.
It’s a fascinating drama which collides powerful music with the plight of an enigmatic seductress. It’s also a feast on the eyes, with Joan Anton Rechi’s stage direction. Rechi gives Strauss’s work his “contemporary, modern and radical touch.”
Misunderstood, yet applauded, Salome, is considered one of the most important and influential time period operas, rooted in the exquisite and exotic. Then, a highlight in this musical drama: the dance of the seven veils, in which the composer employs a heckelphone, to recall the incantations of Arabian tonality. The heckelphone is a woodwind resembling a low oboe, and currently not played in Colombia. To find this verge-of-exinction instrument, the OFB invited Julian Ramos of the National Network of Youth Orchestras and Childrens Choirs of Venezuela.
As the music director of the Staatskapelle Halle-Saale (Germany) and chief conductor of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra (USA), Josep Caballé Domenech, has combined in his career an extensive repertoire of the symphonic and operatic. Playing the part of Salome, is German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, and no stranger to the role of this heroine, having performed in 2014 this part alongside the Vienna Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall.
John the Baptist is Glaswegian bass-baritone Iain Paterson. Since his critically acclaimed debut at the Salzburg Easter Festival in Das Rheingold under Sir Simon Rattle, Paterson’s operatic engagements have taken him to the most prestigious theatres in the world. And now we are graced to hear his voice at the Teatro Mayor, for three performances: Tuesday 16, Thursday 18 and Saturday 20. The opera starts at 8:00 pm.
Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo
Ave Calle 170 No. 67-51
Tickets priced from $35,000 pesos