Vol. 33 - Salome

By Graeme Jenkins

Oscar Wilde

I have known and been mesmerized by Salome, the music of Richard Strauss and the wit of Oscar Wilde for more than a quarter of a century and I’m thrilled to finally try my hand at this mighty work! As my old teacher Norman Del Mar puts it, the opera is “an electrifying portrayal in perversion.” From the opening, delicately fluttering clarinet theme to the destructive, brutal thuds as the entire orchestra crushes the life from Salome, Strauss holds the audience in a vice-like grip.

From the moment this work premiered in Dresden, Germany, on December 9, 1905, its power to shock has gone virtually unchallenged in Opera literature (with the exceptions, perhaps, of Wozzeck and Lulu).

The source material is a remarkable stage play by Oscar Wilde.

The celebrated, yet controversial, author was born in 1854 and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, in addition to Oxford. He married Constance May Lloyd in 1884, with whom he had two sons. In 1890, Wilde published his most famous novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey. Two years later, Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensbury. Soon thereafter, Wilde wrote the play, Salome, in French; a work later banned by the Lord Chamberlain in London, under a rule which forbade the portrayal of Biblical figures on stage.

In 1895, Wilde had two hit plays running on the London stage: An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. He sued the Marquess of Queensbury for libel (in connection with his love affair), lost the case and was ultimately arrested. Wilde’s first trial for the crime of homosexuality ended without a verdict, a retrial found him guilty and the author was sentenced to two years, hard labor – taking away his freedom and ending his career. Wilde was released from prison, a broken man, and died in Paris in 1900: divorced, abandoned by his peers, and bankrupt. Yet, even while suffering from cerebral meningitis on his deathbed, his wit remained, as evidenced by comments like:

“It’s the wallpaper or me – one of us has to go.”

So, what exactly has Wilde’s sad fate and tragic end to do with Salome?

Read on to find out. | Purchase tickets to SALOME

Stage Director John Lloyd Davies:
The Salome Monologue
John Lloyd Davies

Salome – It’s this incredibly rich, powerful and erotic music that makes people think, “Oh, this isn’t the same Richard Strauss who wrote Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos. But, in fact, the instant you listen to it, you find that tons of Rosenkavalier is in there. This is a big, aggressive story but, even in the dance (of the Seven Veils) itself, there is this wonderful, swelling string writing that listeners would know from Der Rosenkavalier, applied to a much more dramatic story.

Oscar Wilde wrote his stage play of Salome in French – deliberately choosing not to write it in English – while he was living in Paris. That choice owes something to Wilde’s view of the world; he wanted to write something very strange, not an historical drama. In fact, he said during rehearsals for the play that the main character isn’t the girl at all, it’s the moon. The whole opera is about strange, symbolic, surreal things that fill the art and literature of that time.
Read more. | Listen to a clip

A Lasting Legacy

Orpheus Society Members Marilyn Smith and Dick Horton

The Dallas Opera lost a dear friend and patron earlier this year with the passing of Richard S. Horton. Dick was a long-time subscriber and member of the Inner Circle. Beginning in 1990, he shared his wit and charm with the staff on a regular basis through countless hours of volunteer office work. His enjoyment of opera led him to also become a member of the Orpheus Legacy Society in 1994.

In recent years, Dick was a catalyst for the Opera’s exploration of Charitable Gift Annuities. He had made a gift to his alma mater that provided him an annual income stream and also would support his school upon his death. He wanted a similar relationship with The Dallas Opera and believed others may as well.

Thanks to Dick’s generosity, vision and encouragement, Orpheus Legacy Society members can now easily create a Charitable Gift Annuity with The Dallas Opera as its beneficiary. A Charitable Gift Annuity provides lifetime annual income for the donor and leaves the remainder of assets to The Dallas Opera. If you share Dick’s vision and would like to learn more, please contact Cynthia Young, Director of Development, at 214-443-1088 or cynthia@dallasopera.org.

Renée Fleming

Because of the incredible generosity of you, our amazing donors and subscribers, The Dallas Opera can proudly announce that it's 50th Anniversary Campaign was able to net more than $2.1 million! The Anniversary Celebration culminated in the beautiful gala evening, Bravo 5O! featuring soprano Renee Fleming and jazz-trumpeter Chris Botti.

To view and purchase photos from the event, please visit: www.photoguy.net

Event name: Dallas Opera
Password: 2007

Thank you so much for your continued support of The Dallas Opera! And best wishes to you in the New Year.

  In This Issue:

  Upcoming Events
January 19 - Inside The Dallas Opera: Great Opera Scandals

Tune in to Classical WRR 101.1 FM at noon for The Dallas Opera's 30-minute program hosted by Suzanne Calvin.

January 22 - Amici di Opera Cocktail Lecture: SALOME

Join Amici di Opera for an informal lecture on SALOME. Jonathan Pell, Dallas Opera's Director of Artistic Administration, will lead the discussion on the social implications of SALOME, its ties to Oscar Wilde, plus the plot and music highlights.

Date/Time: January 22, 2008, 6:00 PM
Location: Crescent Club, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, Texas 75201
Cost: FREE for Amici di Opera members
RSVP: amici@dallasopera.org by Tuesday, January 15

January 27 - Opera Insights: SALOME

Join The Dallas Opera Guild at 4 pm for Opera Insights. This lively panel discussion, featuring singers, directors and designers, invites your questions and participation from The Dallas Opera's production of SALOME. Opera Insights is a behind-the-scenes look sure to enrich your opera-going experience.

Lecture Times: 4 to 6 pm - program and reception
Cost: FREE for Guild members. $10 for non-Guild members
Location: Gooch Auditorium at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
For questions about the event or Guild Membership information, call 214-443-1043.

 TDO Special Offer

Click here to save 10% on tickets!

  Did You Know?

SALOME costume designer Peter J. Hall has created styles for over 70 productions and for some of the world's most famous stars including Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Dame Joan Sutherland and even David Bowie.

  Video Fun

In this 1941 Disney classic, Donald visits a penny arcade where Daisy makes a most unusual cameo appearance as the artist pictured in the Dance of the Seven Veils, proving that opera has been saturated into every niche of pop culture.

  Tell US What You Think

In last month's poll, we asked which opera you are most excited to see. Since it was such a close race, we feel good knowing that we are providing a very balanced season.

Tosca - 26%
Salome - 24%
Macbeth - 22%
Porgy and Bess - 16%
The Merry Widow - 11%