Music Drama in Two Acts

Music: Richard Strauss, Text: Oscar Wilde

This cry is actually a cry of love: “I want to understand myself, I would like to be understood, recognized, embraced, I would like, that someone takes me with them.” Indeed this is the meaning of the cry. (Roland Barthes)

Music Direction: Alexander Joel
Direction & Stage design: Michael Simon
Costume & Video design: Zana Bosnjak
Dramaturgy: Christian Steinbock
Salome (Singer): Yamina Maamar
Salome (Dancer): Eva Burghardt
Staatstheater Braunschweig / 2013
A rampant flood of images seems to come from the stage and overflows the opera hall. Words and rough drawings, painted with a think brush, cover the walls and floor of the whole stage. Wherever you look, you find symbols. The dominance of the stage design, however, is not an end unto itself, but rather helps the director´s dramaturgical feat. Michael Simon almost violently turns the perspective of the piece on its head. In this Braunschweig production, instead of all figures looking at the beautiful, young Salome, one senses the princess´s point of view of the lascivious world that watches her. 

 “Salome´s head” is the setting. Reality and authenticity are nowhere to be found. Only the prophet John the Baptist appears in an everyday white shirt, the only man who does not give his gaze to her. He becomes a screen on which the princess can project.

Simon´s take becomes especially striking during the famous “Dance of the Seven Veils“, during which Salome tries to make her intrusive step father fulfill her wishes. Muscle after muscle starts to tremor in her body, until she coils up on the ground, bleeding and full of pain. In this Braunschweig production one won’t see Salome´s dance, but rather the injuries which these humiliations cause in her. Instead of oriental erotic, the director places his emphasis on psychoanalysis. This is made possible thanks to the placing of a dancer (Eva Burghardt) next to the singer (Yamina Maamar). Using these two performers, he shows the inner conflict of the figure and her tendency from the beginning towards self-adulation. The entire show is consistent and radical, yet won´t repel. It is a grand evening at the opera.” 
(Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 4.6.2013)

Photos: Karl-Bernd Karwasz