[Met Performance] CID:38600
United States Premiere
Special Performance
Salome {1}
Metropolitan Opera House: 01/22/1907.
 (United States Premiere)
(Debuts: Paul Lange, Franz Stiner

Metropolitan Opera House
January 22, 1907


Part I

Miscellaneous Concert

Der Freischütz: Overture

Die Königin von Saba: Act I, Entrance of Sulamith
Marie Rappold
Pupils of the Opera School

Fidelio: Mir ist so wunderbar
Katherine Fleischer-Edel
Bella Alten
Alois Burgstaller
Otto Goritz

Don Giovanni: Là ci darem la mano
Geraldine Farrar
Antonio Scotti

Mefistofele: L'altra notte
Lina Cavalieri

Les Contes d'Hoffmann: Belle nuit
Louise Homer
Louise Kirkby-Lunn

Rigoletto: Sì vendetta
Celestina Boninsegna
Riccardo Stracciari

Allerseelen; Ständchen
Marcella Sembrich
Hans Morgenstern, piano

L'Africaine: O paradiso!
Enrico Caruso

Faust: Final Trio
Bessie Abott
Charles Rousselière
Marcel Journet

Conductor...............Samuel Bovy
Conductor...............Arturo Vigna

Part II

United States Premiere

R. Strauss-O. Wilde/Lachmann

Salome..................Olive Fremstad
Herod...................Carl Burrian
Herodias................Marion Weed
Jochanaan...............Anton Van Rooy
Narraboth...............Andreas Dippel
Page....................Josephine Jacoby
Jew.....................Albert Reiss
Jew.....................Julius Bayer
Jew.....................Giovanni Paroli
Jew.....................Jacques Bars
Jew.....................Eugène Dufriche
Nazarene................Marcel Journet
Nazarene................Franz Stiner [Debut]
Soldier.................Adolph Mühlmann
Soldier.................Robert Blass
Cappadocian.............Paul Lange [Debut]
Slave...................Marie Mattfeld
Dance...................Bianca Froehlich

Conductor...............Alfred Hertz

Director................Anton Schertel
Set Designer............Max Brückner
Costume Designer........Blaschke & Cie

[Froehlich performed the Dance of the Seven Veils for Fremstad.]

[The program announced matinees at 11:30 a.m. on 1/31/07 and 2/5/07, as well as a last and only evening performance of Salome on 2/12/07. All these performances were cancelled when the Metropolitan Opera & Real Estate Company banned further performances. Salome was not performed again by the Metropolitan Opera until January 13, 1934.]

Review and Account of Henry Krehbiel in the Tribune


Enormous Crowd Gives Little Applause to Singers at Conried Benefit.

Mr. Conried, who is still confined to his home crippled by illness, did not see the first American performance of "Salome" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. But, as the performance was given for his benefit, he will see about $22,000 as a result of it. Not since the first performance of "Parsifal" has such a remunerative audience packed the great auditorium. The scale of prices, as for "Parsifal," was doubled, yet all the seats were sold, as well as all the standing room, and only the fact that thirty seats were removed to make room for the enlarged orchestra prevented the receipts equaling those for the Wagner work. There was a long line at the box office as early as 6 o'clock and although only one admission ticket was sold to a person, the speculators continued to get hold of a number, which they sold at a considerable advance. Long before the time for [start], the window was closed. The subscribers, however, were not very liberally represented in the audience. Many boxes were occupied by outsiders and all over the orchestra were strange faces. Several boxes were entirely unoccupied, the holders having failed to turn them in to sell and not using them themselves.

The performance of Strauss's opera was preceded by a concert. Mme. Eames did not appear, owing to her injured knee (which she expects to be able to stand on today), and Journet sang in place of Plançon, who is still ill. Mme. Sembrich, who alone sang songs, chose them fittingly from Richard Strauss. She was beautifully accompanied by Isidore Lucketone. The concert was over a little after nine, and the real business of the evening began at a quarter to ten when the lights went out, and there was a sound from the orchestra pit and the curtains parted on "Salome." The setting for "Salome" is an imaginative creation of the scene painter's art. The high steps to the palace door to the right, the cover of the cistern backed by ironic roses in the centre and beyond, the deep night sky and the moonlight on the distant roofs. Two cedars cut the sky, black and mournful. Against this background Salome moves like a tigress, the costumes of the court glow with a dim barbaric splendor, and the red fire from the tripods streams silently up into the night till you fancy you can almost smell it. Here was atmosphere like Belasco's and saturated with it the opera moved to its appointed end, sinister, compelling, disgusting.

What the opera is is told elsewhere. It remains to record that in the audience at this performance, as at the dress rehearsal on Sunday, the effect of horror was pronounced, many voices were hushed as the crowd passed out into the night, many faces were white almost as those at the rail of a ship, many women were silent, and men spoke as if a bad dream were on them. The preceding concert was forgotten; ordinary emotions following an opera were banished. The grip of a strange horror or disgust was on the majority. It was as significant that the usual applause was lacking. It was scattered and brief.

If Mr. Conried could not himself see this performance, his staff - artists, ushers and all the rest - did not forget him. In the afternoon they sent to his house a bronze statue of Fame, and a parchment, signed by all, bearing an address or appreciation for his work as director and sympathy in his illness.

A reviewer ought to be equipped with a dual nature, both intellectual and moral, in order to pronounce fully and fairly upon the qualities of the drama by Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss.He should be an embodied conscience stung into righteous fury by the moral stench with which "Salome" fills the nostrils of humanity, but, though it makes him retch, he should be sufficiently judicial in his temperament calmly to look at the drama in all its aspects and determine whether or not as a whole it is an instructive note on the life and culture of the times and whether or not this exudation from the diseased and polluted will and imagination of the authors marks a real advance in artistic expression, irrespective of its contents or their fitness for dramatic representation.

There is a vast deal of ugly music in "Salome"-music that offends the ear and rasps the nerves like fiddlestrings played on by a course file...What shall be said...when music adorns itself with the loveliest attributes and leads them to the apotheosis of that which is indescribably, yes, inconceivably gross and abominable? Music can not lie. Not even the genius of Richard Strauss can make it discriminate in its soaring ecstasy between a vile object and a good. There are three supremely beautiful musical moments in "Salome." Two of them are purely instrumental, though it has an accompaniment of word and action. The first is an intermezzo in which all action ceases except that which plays in the bestially perverted heart and mind of Salome. A baffled amorous hunger changes to a desire for revenge. The second is the music of the dance. The third is the marvelous finale, in which an impulse which can only be conceived as rising from the uttermost pit of degradation is beatified...There is not a whiff of fresh and healthy air blowing through "Salome" except that which exhales from the cistern, the prison house of Jochanaan. Even the love of Narraboth, the young Syrian captain, for the princess is tainted by the jealous outbursts of Herodias' page. Salome is the unspeakable; Herodias...is a human hyena; Herod, a neurasthenic voluptuary.

Mme. Fremstad accomplished a miracle. A sleek tigress, with seduction speaking in every pose, gesture, look, and utterance, she grew steadily in the monster which she was when she sank under the shields of the soldiers while the orchestras shrieked its final horror and left the listeners staring at each other with startling eyeballs and wrecked nerves.

An excerpt from a review by W. J. Henderson in The Sun

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether the causation of nausea should be regarded as a laudable purpose for dramatic and musical art, it may be conceded that "Salome" is a creation of tremendous dramatic power, if irresistible musical expressiveness and of marvelous technical construction. It demonstrates conclusively that in so far as technic and mastership in a treatment of operatic materials go Strauss is entitled to a place among the leaders and that his true field is not the concert hall but the theatre.

Photographs of Olive Fremstad as Salome by Byron, New York.
Photograph of Carl Burrian as Herod by Hahn Nachflg, Dresden.

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