Richard Strauss: SalomeDirected by Christof Loy in Helsinki

The literary source for Richard Strauss’s opera immortalizing the degeneracy of Herodes Antipas, King of Judea, and his step-daughter Salome, was supplied by Oscar Wilde. It tells of Herodes, who is keeping the prophet Jochanaan captive inside a cistern. Salome tries to seduce him and on being rebuffed, forces her stepfather to serve her the prophet’s head on a silver platter.

Herodes Antipas is one of the Bible’s great villains. The historical figure of Herod was ruler of Galilee and Perea in the early days of the first century.

The source text for Richard Strauss’s opera immortalising the royal family’s degeneracy was supplied by Oscar Wilde. Herodes has banished his wife and married his sister-in-law Herodias, wife of his half-brother Herodes Boethos. And now he is lusting after Herodias’ beautiful daughter, Salome, as well. John the Baptist (the prophet Jochanaan) accuses Herodes of committing adultery twice over and foretells the dreadful fate awaiting him. Herodes takes fright at this and has Jochanaan locked up in a cistern.

From the depths of the well, Jochanaan’s prophecies reverberate throughout the palace: “Rejoice not, thou land of Palestine, because the rod of him who smote thee is broken. For from the seed of the serpent shall come forth a basilisk, and that which is born of it shall devour the birds. Where is he whose cup of abominations is now full? Where is he who in a robe of silver shall one day die in the face of all the people?”

Thrilled by these dire prophecies and her curiosity piqued, Salome persuades Captain Narraboth, who is also in love with her, to let Jochanaan come to her from his cistern. When the prophet rebuffs her, however, she uses a ruse to compel Herodes to present her with Jochanaan's head on a silver platter.

Oscar Wilde’s one-act drama Salomé was published in French in 1891 and now counts as a key work of Anglo-French Décadence. Richard Strauss used the German translation of it by the poet and language teacher, Hedwig Lachmann, for his libretto. Salome was his third opera, and its premiere at the Royal Opera House in Dresden in 1905 helped bring about his breakthrough as a composer.

This new staging of Salome at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki is the work of Christof Loy and is to be conducted by Hannu Lintu.

Recording from the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki on 7 April 2022.
Photo: Heikki Tuuli


  • Vida Miknevičiūtė (Salome)

  • Mihails Culpajevs (Narraboth)

  • Nikolai Schukoff (Herodes)

  • Karin Lovelius (Herodias)

  • Andrew Foster-Williams (Jochanaan)

  • Elli Vallinoja (Herodia's Page)


  • Richard Strauss


  • Christof Loy

TV production

  • Tiina Siniketo

Music director

  • Hannu Lintu


  • Orchestre de l'opéra national de Finlande


  • France

  • Finland


  • 2022


106 min


From 13/05/2022 to 12/05/2023


Performance Art