The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 3, Episode 2 - Richard Strauss: Salome - full transcript

Oscar Wilde's scandalous play set to equally outrageous music by Richard Strauss. It caused riots when it opened but has become one of the most-often performed operas around the world.

How beautiful Princess Salome is tonight!

How strange the moon looks... a woman rising from her grave.

She's very strange, like a princess...

...whose feet are white doves.

One would think she were dancing!

It's like a woman who's dead.

It drifts slowly along....

What an uproar!

What kind of animals howl like that?

It's the Jews.

They're always arguing
about their religion.

I think it's ridiculous
to fight over such things.

How beautiful Princess Salome is tonight!

You're always looking at her.

You look at her too much.

It's dangerous to do that.

Terrible things can happen!

She is very beautiful tonight!

The tetrarch is brooding.

Who's he looking at?

I don't know.

How pale the princess is!

I've never seen her so pale.

She's like the shadow...

...of a white rose on a mirror of silver.

You mustn't look at her.

Terrible things can happen!

After me will come One who is stronger.

I am not worthy to loosen
the laces of His shoes.

When He comes,
the barren places will rejoice.

When He comes...

...the eyes of the blind
shall behold the day.

When He comes...

...the ears of the deaf shall be opened.

Silence him!

He is a holy man.

He's always saying ridiculous things.

Yet he is very kind.

Every day when I bring him food,
he thanks me.

Who is he?

A prophet.

What is his name?


Where does he come from?

The desert.

He was always surrounded
by a crowd of followers.

What is he talking about?

He's impossible to understand.

Can we see him?

The tetrarch has forbidden it.

The princess is getting up.
She's leaving the table!

She's displeased.

She's coming outside.

-Don't look at her!
-Yes, she's coming to us!

She's like a lost dove!

I won't stay.

I cannot stay!

Why does the tetrarch stare at me
with those mole's eyes of his?

It's strange that my mother's
husband should look at me like that.

How sweet the air is!
Here I can breathe.

The Jews sit in there...

...tearing each other apart
over their foolish laws.

And the silent, cunning Egyptians...

...and the coarse, brutish Romans
with their uncouth language.

How I hate these Romans!

Terrible things will happen!

Why do you look at her like that?

How good to see the moon!

It's like a silver flower, cool and chaste.

Its beauty is like that of a virgin
who has remained pure.

Behold, the Lord has come...

...the Son of Man!

Who called out?

The prophet, Princess.

Ah, the one the tetrarch's afraid of.

We know nothing of that, Princess.

It was the prophet Jochanaan.

Let me call for your chair, Princess.
It's lovely tonight in the gardens.

He says awful things
about my mother, doesn't he?

We can never understand
what he says, Princess.

Yes...he says awful things about her.

Princess, the tetrarch says
you must return to the feast.

I don't want to!

Is this prophet an old man?

Princess, it would be better
if you left us. I'll escort you.

Is this prophet an old man?

No, Princess, he is quite young.

Rejoice not, Palestine...

...that your conqueror's staff is broken!

From the serpent's seed
a basilisk will arise.

Its progeny will devour
the birds of the sky.

What a strange voice!
I want to speak with him.

Princess, the tetrarch will not
let anyone speak with him.

Even the high priest
is forbidden to speak with him.

I want to speak with him.

It is impossible, Princess.

I want to speak with him!

Bring this prophet here.

We don't dare, Princess!

How black it is down there....

It must be terrible
to live in such a black hole.

It's like a tomb.

Didn't you hear me?

Bring the prophet here!
I want to see him.

Princess, we cannot do what you ask.

I know something terrible will happen!

You'll do it for me, won't you, Narraboth?

I always liked you.
You'll do it for me.

I only want to see this strange prophet.

There's been so much talk of him,
I believe the tetrarch's afraid.

There's been so much talk of him,
I believe the tetrarch's afraid.

The tetrarch has expressly forbidden...

...anyone to open the cistern.

You'll do it for me, Narraboth.

And tomorrow, when I pass by
the city gate in my chair...

...I'll let fall a little green flower,
just for you.

Princess, I can't!

You'll do it for me, Narraboth.

You know you'll do it for me.

Tomorrow I'll look at you
through my veil, Narraboth.

I shall look at you,
and perhaps I shall smile.

Look at me, Narraboth.

How good that you know you'll do it!

Bring the prophet!

Princess Salome wishes to see him!

Where is he whose cup is filled with sin?

Where is he who will one day...

...die before the people, robed in silver?

Bid him come and hearken to the voice...

...the voice that has been heard
in the deserts and the houses of kings!

Who is he talking about?

No one knows, Princess.

Where is she who surrendered to her lust...

...who stood before painted idols...

...and sent envoys to the Chaldeans?

He's talking about my mother.

No, Princess.

Oh, yes...he's talking about my mother.

Where is she who gave herself
to the Assyrian captains?

Where is she who gave herself
to the young Egyptians...

...with their fine linen and jewels...

...golden shields and strong bodies?

Bid her rise from her bed
of depravity and incest!

Bid her hear the one who heralds...

...the coming of the Lord.

Let her repent of her sins.

And if she does not repent, bid her come...

...for the rod of the Lord is in his hand!

He's terrifying.

Truly terrifying!

Do not stay, Princess, I beg you!

His eyes are the most
terrible thing of all.

They're like the black caves
where dragons live!

They're like black lakes
in which a strange moonlight flares.

Do you think he'll speak again?

Do not stay, Princess!

How ravaged he is.

He's like an ivory statue!

I'm certain he's as chaste as the moon.

His skin must be cool, like ivory.

I want a closer look at him.

No, Princess!

I must have a closer look!

Who is this woman?

I will not have her eyes upon me!

Why does she look at me
with her glittering eyes?

I do not know who she is.

I do not want to know who she is.

Bid her go!

I will not speak to her.

I am Salome.

Daughter of Herodias,
and Princess of Judea.

Begone, daughter of Babylon!
Approach not the chosen of the Lord!

Your mother has filled the earth
with the wine of her lust.

The enormity of her sins cries out to God!

Speak again, Jochanaan,
for your voice is like music!

Speak again, Jochanaan,
and tell me what I must do!

Daughter of Sodom, do not come near me!

Draw a veil over your face
and cover your head with ashes.

Go into the desert...

...and seek there the Son of Man.

Who is this Son of Man?

Is he as fair as you, Jochanaan?

Begone! I hear the wings
of the angel of death in this palace!

Princess, I beg you, go inside!


I am in love with your body, Jochanaan.

Your body is white, like the lilies
in a field that scythe never touched.

Your body is as white as the snow...

...on the mountains of Judea.

The roses in the gardens of Babylon...

...aren't as white as your body.

Not the queen's roses...

...nor the dawn's light on their petals...

...nor the breast of the moon
upon the ocean...

...nothing in the world
is as white as your body!

Let me touch your body....

Stay back, daughter of Babylon!

A woman brought evil into the world!

Do not speak to me.

I will not listen!

I listen only to the voice
of the Lord my God.

Your body is horrible,
like the body of a leper!

It's like a whitewashed wall
where vipers have crawled...

...where scorpions nest.

It's like a white tomb
full of loathsome things!

Your body is horrible!

I am in love with your hair, Jochanaan.

Your hair is the color of grapes...

...the black grapes on the vines of Edom.

Your hair is like
the great cedars of Lebanon..

...where lions and robbers find shelter.

The long, black nights
when the moon is hiding...

...nights the stars are afraid,
are not so black as your hair.

Not the silence of the forest...

...nothing is as black as your hair!

Let me touch your hair....

Stay back, daughter of Sodom!

Do not touch me!

Do not profane the temple
of the Lord my God!

Your hair is horrible!
It's covered with mud and filth.

It's like a crown of thorns upon your head.

It's like a tangle of vipers
wound about your neck.

It is your mouth that I desire, Jochanaan!

I desire your mouth...

...a scarlet band on a tower of ivory.

It's like a pomegranate
cut by a silver knife.

The pomegranate blossoms in Tyre...

...are not so red as your mouth!

The red fanfares that announce the king...

... and terrify his foes...

...are not so red as your red mouth.

Your mouth is redder
than the feet of the winemakers.

It is redder than the feet
of the doves who live in the temple.

Your mouth is like a branch of coral
in the half-light of the sea.

It's like the purple
in the mines of Moab...

...the purple of kings.

Nothing in the world
is as red as your mouth!

Let me kiss your mouth....


Daughter of Babylon!
Daughter of Sodom!


I want to kiss your mouth, Jochanaan!

Princess, garden of myrrh, dove of doves... not look at this man
and speak such words to him!

I cannot bear it!

I want to kiss your mouth, Jochanaan!

Let me kiss your mouth, Jochanaan!

Are you not afraid, daughter of Herodias?

Daughter of sin...

...there is only one who can save you.

Go and seek Him.

He is in a boat on the Sea of Galilee...

...speaking to His disciples.

Kneel upon the shore, and call to Him.

Call to Him by name.

When He comes to you,
as He does to all who call Him...

...kneel at His feet.

And ask forgiveness for your sins.

Let me kiss your mouth, Jochanaan!

Be cursed, daughter of
an incestuous mother.

Be cursed!

Let me kiss your mouth, Jochanaan!

I will not look at you.
You are accursed, Salome.

You are accursed!

Where is Salome? Where is the princess?

Why did she not return
to the feast, as I commanded?

You shouldn't look at her.

You're always looking at her!

How the moon looks tonight!
Isn't it strange?

It looks like a madwoman...

...searching everywhere for lovers.

It looks like a drunken woman
staggering through the clouds!

No...the moon is like the moon,
that's all. Let's go inside.

I'm staying here.

I want to drink some more wine
with my guests.

I slipped!

I stepped in some blood...a bad omen.

Why is there blood here?

Who is this dead man?

I don't want to look at him.

It is our captain, my Lord.

I gave no orders for him to be killed.

He killed himself, my Lord.

That seems odd.

The young Syrian was very handsome.

I remember his longing looks at Salome.

Take him away!

It's cold here.

There's a wind.

-Isn't there a wind?
-No, there's no wind.

I tell you there's a wind blowing,
and I hear something.

It's like the beating of mighty wings!

Don't you hear it?

I hear nothing.

Now it's gone.

But I heard it: the sound of wind.
It's passed....

There! Don't you hear it?

The beating of mighty wings!

You're ill. Let us go inside.

I'm not ill...

...but your daughter is as pale as death!

I've never seen her so pale.

I told you not to look at her!

Bring me wine!

Salome, come drink some wine with me!

The emperor himself gave it to me.

Moisten your lips with it,
your little red lips...

...then let me empty the cup.

I'm not thirsty, Tetrarch.

Do you hear how she answers me,
this daughter of yours?

She's right. Why do you stare at her?

Salome, come eat some
of this fruit with me.

I want to see the marks
of your little white teeth in some fruit.

Just take a little bite...

...and I'll eat what's left.

I'm not hungry, Tetrarch.

See how you've brought up your daughter!

My daughter and I are of royal blood.

Your father was a camel driver,
a thief, and a brigand!

Salome, come.

Sit beside me, in your mother's place.

I'm not tired, Tetrarch.

See how she obeys you!

Bring me...

...what do I want? I've forgotten.

Ah, I remember!

Behold, the time has come!

The day I spoke of is here.

Silence him! The man is insulting me!

He's said nothing against you.
Besides, he is a great prophet.

I don't believe in prophets.
But you're afraid of him.

I am afraid of no one.

I tell you you're afraid!

Why not give him to the Jews?
They've clamored for him for months.

Indeed, my Lord,
it would be better if you gave him to us.

Enough! I will not give him to you.

He is a holy man.
He is a man who has seen God.

That cannot be. Since the prophet Elijah,
no man has seen God.

He was the last to see God.
God has not shown himself in our time.

He is hiding,
and a great evil has fallen upon the land.

No one knows for certain
if Elijah really saw God.

It is possible that it was only his shadow.

God is everywhere.

He is present in both good and evil.

You should not spread
that dangerous Alexandrian doctrine.

-The Greeks are heathens!
-God's ways are mysterious.

We can only bow before His will,
for He is very powerful.

You speak the truth:
God is indeed terrifying.

But as for this man,
he has not seen God.

No one has since Elijah!

Silence them! They're boring me.

Yet I have heard that Jochanaan
is in fact the prophet Elijah.

That cannot be. Elijah lived
more than three hundred years ago.

I'm sure he's the prophet Elijah.

That cannot be!

Behold, the day is near...

...the day of the Lord.

Upon the mountains I hear
the footsteps of the world's Savior!

What does he mean...

..."world's Savior"?

The Messiah has arrived.

The Messiah has not arrived!

He is working miracles everywhere.

At a wedding in Galilee...

...He turned water into wine.

He healed two lepers in Capernaum.

He has healed the blind.

He has been seen talking
to angels on the mountaintops.

I don't believe in miracles.
I've seen too many of them.

He has raised the dead.

Raised the dead?

He has raised the dead.

I forbid him to do this!

How horrible if the dead awoke!

Where is the man now?

My Lord, He is everywhere...
but it is difficult to find Him.

The man must be found.

They say He's in Samaria.

He left Samaria, I believe,
and is now near Jerusalem.

Hear me: I forbid him to raise the dead!

And of this wanton, the daughter
of Babylon, saith the Lord:

Command him to be silent!

A multitude will rise against her
and stone her.

The captains will stab her
with their swords.

They will crush her with their shields.

Thus shall I banish
all evil from the world.

I shall teach all women...

...not to tread her odious path!

You hear what he says, and
you suffer this insult to your wife?

He didn't speak your name.

The day will come when
the sun will be like a black cloth.

The moon will be like blood.

And the stars will fall to earth like figs.

The day will come
when the kings of the earth will tremble.

This prophet babbles like a drunkard!

I can't bear the sound of his voice!
I hate it!

Command him to be silent!

Dance for me, Salome!

I will not let her dance.

I don't want to dance, Tetrarch.

Salome, daughter of Herodias, dance for me!

Salome, daughter of Herodias, dance for me!

I don't want to, Tetrarch.

You see how she obeys you.

Salome, dance for me!

I'm sad tonight.

If you dance for me,
you can ask of me what you wish.

I shall give it to you!

Will you truly give me
whatever I ask, Tetrarch?

Whatever you ask...

...even if it's half my kingdom!

Do you swear it, Tetrarch?

I swear it, Salome!

On what will you swear it?

On my life, my crown... my gods! Dance for me, Salome!

You have sworn an oath, Tetrarch.

I've sworn an oath.

Do not dance, my daughter!

You shall have half my kingdom!

As queen, you'll be beautiful
beyond compare.

It's cold here!

There's an icy wind, and I hear....

Why do I hear the beating of wings?

It's as if a huge black bird
were flying over the courtyard.

Why can't I see it? The noise is terrible.

It's an icy, not cold, but hot!

Pour water on my hands...
give me snow to eat.

Loosen my collar!

This crown oppresses me.
The roses burn like fire!

Ah, now I can I'm all right.

Will you dance for me, Salome?

I will not let her dance!

I shall dance for you.

I want to go inside.

The man's voice is driving me mad.

I will not have her dance
while he's shouting like that.

I will not have her dance
while you look at her as you do.

In a word, I do not want her to dance!

It's useless, my wife and queen.

I won't go inside until she's danced.

I am ready, Tetrarch.



You see? Your daughter danced for me!

Salome, your reward
will be worthy of a king!

I'll give you anything your heart desires.

What do you want?

I want it brought on a silver dish.

On a silver dish...of course!

Isn't she charming?

What do you want on a silver dish,
sweet Salome?

You're more beautiful than all
Judea's daughters!

Tell me what you want!

Whatever it is, you shall have it.

All my riches are yours.

What is it that you want, Salome?

The head of Jochanaan.

Well done, my daughter!

Don't listen to your mother.

She's always given you bad advice.

I do not heed my mother's voice.

It is for my own pleasure that I want
Jochanaan's head...

...on a silver dish.

You swore an oath, Herod.

Don't forget it!

I know I swore an oath.

I swore by my gods.

But I beg you, Salome...

...ask for something else,
even half my kingdom!

But do not ask of me
what your lips just did!

I demand the head of Jochanaan.

I won't give it to you.

You swore an oath, Herod!

Yes, you swore an oath.
Everybody heard it.

Be still, woman! I'm not talking to you.

My daughter was right to ask
for his head. He insulted me!

You can see she loves her mother.
Don't give in, my daughter.

He swore an oath!

Silence! Don't speak to me.

Salome, I beg you, don't be stubborn.

I've always been fond of you.

Perhaps too fond of you.

Do not ask this of me!

The severed head of a man
is a loathsome sight.

I have an emerald...

... the most beautiful in all the world.

You'd like to have it, wouldn't you?

Ask for it, and the most
beautiful of emeralds is yours!

I demand the head of Jochanaan.

You aren't listening to me.
I'm talking to you, Salome!

You're punishing me
because of how I looked at you.

Your beauty made me lose my reason!

Bring wine! I'm thirsty.

Salome, let's be friends.

What did I want to say?

Ah, I know!

Salome, you know my white peacocks.

They roam about in the gardens.

I'll give them all to you.

No king on earth
possesses such peacocks!

I have only a hundred,
but you can have them all.

Give me the head of Jochanaan!

Well done, my daughter!

Peacocks! You're pathetic!

Salome, consider what you ask.

The man may have been sent by God!

He's a holy man...

...touched by the finger of God.

Do you want harm to come to me?

Listen to me!

I want the head of Jochanaan!

You won't listen to me!
Calm yourself, Salome.

See how calm I am?

I have jewels hidden that even
your mother doesn't know about.

I have a pearl necklace...

...topazes yellow as tiger's eyes,
and pink as a dove's.

I have green topazes, and opals
that burn with ice-cold fire.

I'll give them all to you!

I have diamonds, rubies, and jade.

I have stones from Chalcedon.

You'll have them all, and more!

I have a crystal no woman has
ever been allowed to look upon.

I have turquoise...

... that enable one to
see things that aren't real.

I'll give you everything
except what you asked for...

...the life of this one man!

I'll give you the high priest's mantle.

I'll give you the veil of the temple!

Give me the head of Jochanaan!

Give her what she asks.

She is indeed her mother's child!

Who took my ring?

I had a ring on my right hand.

Where is my wine?

Did someone drink my wine?

This will certainly bring evil upon us.

My daughter did right!

I'm certain it will bring evil!

I can't hear a sound.

Why doesn't the man cry out?

If someone came to kill me...

...I'd cry out and put up a fight.

Strike, Naaman...strike, I tell you!

No...I hear nothing.

Such terrible silence!

Something fell to the ground.

It was the executioner's sword.

The slave is afraid.

He dropped his sword!

The coward is afraid to kill him.

Send soldiers!

You were the dead man's friend,
weren't you?

I say to you, there have not
been enough dead men!

Tell the soldiers to go down
and bring me what is mine!

They must go down into the
cistern and get me the man's head.

Tetrarch, order your soldiers
to bring me Jochanaan's head!

You did not want me to
kiss your mouth, Jochanaan...

...but I shall kiss it now!

I want to bite into it with my teeth... one does with ripe fruit.

Yes, I shall kiss
your mouth now, Jochanaan.

I said that I would.

Didn't I say I would?

Yes, I said so.

I shall kiss it now....

Why don't you look at me, Jochanaan?

Your eyes, once so
full of anger and hatred...

...are closed now.

Why are they closed?

Open your eyes, Jochanaan!

Why don't you look at me?

Are you afraid of me, Jochanaan?

And your tongue
does not speak, Jochanaan...

...that scarlet viper
that spat its poison at me.

It's strange, isn't it?

Why does that red viper no longer stir?

You spoke hateful words to me...

...Salome, daughter of Herodias!

Yet I still live...

... but you are dead.

And your head belongs to me!

I can do with it whatever I wish.

I can throw it to the dogs,
and the birds of the sky.

What the dogs don't devour
will be finished by the birds!

Jochanaan, you were beautiful.

Your body was a column
of ivory on feet of silver.

It was a garden filled with doves...

...bathed by the light of silver lilies.

Nothing on earth
was as white as your body.

Nothing on earth was as black as your hair.

Nothing in all the world
was as red as your mouth!

Your voice was like incense.

When I looked at you...

... I heard mysterious music.

Why didn't you look at me, Jochanaan?

Why didn't you look at me, Jochanaan?

You covered your eyes... does one who would see his god.

Well, you have seen your god, Jochanaan...

Well, you have seen your god, Jochanaan...

...but you never saw me!

If you had, you would have loved me!

I thirst for your beauty...

...I hunger for your body.

Neither wine nor apples
can still my longing.

What shall I do now, Jochanaan?

Neither floods nor oceans...

... can quench this desire!

Why didn't you look at me?

If you had... would have loved me.

I know you would have loved me!

The mystery of love... greater than the mystery of death.

She is a monster, your daughter.

I tell you, she is a monster!

My daughter did right.

Now I want to stay.

Spoken by my brother's wife!

Come...I will not stay!

Something terrible will happen.

We must hide in the palace.

Herodias, I'm beginning to tremble!

Put out the lights!

Hide the moon and the stars!

Something terrible will happen!

I have kissed your mouth, Jochanaan.

I have kissed your mouth...

...and your lips had a bitter taste.

Was it blood?

No! Perhaps it was the taste of love.

They say that love has a bitter taste.

But what of that?

I have kissed your mouth, Jochanaan!

Kill the woman!