The princess Salome becomes obsessed with Jochanaan (John the Baptist), the prisoner of King Herod, her stepfather. After a banquet one night, Herod promises Salome anything she wants if she will dance – so she does, and then asks for a violent favor in return. Based on Oscar Wilde’s play, Richard Strauss’ opera shocked the public when it premiered in 1905. Religion and desire combine in an extraordinary work that maintains its grip on audiences over a century later, with intense musicality and taut drama.

Join us for Madison Opera’s first production of a Strauss opera, starring internationally acclaimed soprano Amanda Majeski in her first performances of the title role.

Friday, November 4 at 8 pm
Sunday, November 6 at 2:30 pm
Overture Hall
Sung in German with projected English translations

approx. run time: 1 hour 40 minutes, with no intermission

Note: This production contains partial nudity and may not be suitable for children under age 14.

Health and Safety Information


by Richard Strauss
libretto by Hedwig Lachmann
based on Salomé by Oscar Wilde

Premiered 9 December 1905
Königliches Opernhaus, Dresden, Germany

Madison Opera Premiere

Outside King Herod’s palace, captain Narraboth admires the beautiful princess Salome, who is inside at a banquet with her stepfather, Herod, and his court. A page warns Narraboth that something terrible might happen if he continues to stare at the princess, but Narraboth won’t listen. The voice of Jochanaan is heard from the cistern, where he is kept prisoner, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah.  Two soldiers comment on the prophet’s kindness and Herod’s fear of him.

Salome exits the palace, disgusted by Herod’s advances toward her and bored by his guests. Jochanaan’s voice is heard again, cursing the sinful life of Salome’s mother, Herodias. Salome asks about the prophet. The soldiers refuse to allow her to speak with him, but Narraboth, unable to resist her, orders that Jochanaan be brought forth from the cistern.

At first terrified by the sight of the holy man, Salome quickly becomes fascinated by his appearance, begging him to let her touch his hair, his skin, and his lips. Jochanaan forcefully rejects her. Narraboth, who can’t bear Salome’s desire for another man, stabs himself. Salome does not notice and continues to beg for Jochanaan’s kiss. The prophet shames her and retreats into the cistern, cursing Salome.

Herod appears from the palace, looking for the princess and commenting on the strange look of the moon. When he slips in Narraboth’s blood, he panics and has hallucinations. Herodias angrily dismisses his fantasies and asks him to go back inside with her, but Herod’s attentions are now focused on Salome. He offers her food and wine, but she rejects his advances.

From the cistern, Jochanaan resumes his tirades against Herodias, who demands that Herod turn the prophet over to the Jews. Herod refuses, maintaining that Jochanaan is a holy man and has seen God. His words spark an argument among the Jews concerning the true nature of God, and two Nazarenes talk about the miracles of Jesus. As Jochanaan continues to accuse her, Herodias demands that he be silenced.

Herod asks Salome to dance for him. She refuses, but when he promises to give her anything she wants, she agrees. Ignoring her mother’s pleas not to, Salome dances seductively, removing her clothes. The delighted king wants to know what reward she would like, and she innocently asks for the head of Jochanaan on a silver platter. Horrified, the king refuses, while Herodias laughs approvingly at Salome’s choice. Herod offers other rewards, but Salome insists and reminds Herod of his oath. The king finally gives in. As the executioner descends into the cistern, the princess anxiously and impatiently awaits her prize. When the prophet’s head is brought to her, she passionately addresses Jochanaan as if he were still alive and finally kisses his lips. The terrified Herod orders the soldiers to kill her.


Amanda Majeski

Madison Opera Debut: Opera in the Park 2021

Káťa Kabanová, Káťa Kabanová (Netherlands Radio Philharmonic); Third Norn/Gutrune, Götterdämmerung (Teatro Real Madrid); Vitellia, La Clemenza di Tito (Opéra de Paris); Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Fiordiligi, Così fan tutte (Sante Fe Opera)
Upcoming: Salome, Salome (Houston Grand Opera)

Craig Irvin Headshot
Craig Irvin

Madison Opera Debut

Recently: Orest, Elektra (Minnesota Opera); Lt. Horstmayer, Silent Night (Austin Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia); Older Thompson, Glory Denied (Knoxville Opera); Pirate King, The Pirates of Penzance (Utah Opera, Atlanta Opera)

Petersen, Dennis
Dennis Petersen

Madison Opera Debut

Recently: Aegisth, Elektra (Minnesota Opera); Mime, Das Rheingold (Minnesota Opera, Arizona Opera, Seattle Opera); Nick, La Fanciulla del West (Michigan Opera Theatre); Grampa, The Grapes of Wrath (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Michigan Opera Theatre); Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd (Mill City Summer Opera)

Decker, Lauren
Lauren Decker

Madison Opera Debut

Recently: Giovanna, Rigoletto (Opera Philadelphia); 1st Maid, Elektra; Jade Boucher, Dead Man Walking; 3rd Lady, The Magic Flute (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Williams-Ali, Chaz'men
Chaz’men Williams-Ali

Madison Opera Debut

Recently: Prince, Rusalka; Pinkerton, Madama Butterfly;  Florestan, Fidelio; Canio, Pagliacci (Theater und Orchester Heidelberg); Zorn, Die Meistersinger (Metropolitan Opera); Spinner, Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Robbins / Crab Man, Porgy & Bess (English National Opera, Dutch National Opera)

John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO:  Orpheus in the Underworld, She Loves Me, Digital Opera in the Park 2020, Fellow Travelers, La Traviata, Rusalka

Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera)
Upcoming: Trouble in Tahiti / The Seven Deadly Sins (Madison Opera)

Keturah Stickann
Stage Director / Choreographer

Madison Opera Debut: Rusalka (2019)

Recently: A Little Night Music (Arizona Opera); Carmen, Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Colorado); Cavalleria Rusticana/Suor Angelica (Toledo Opera); Candide (Michigan Opera Theatre); Pélleas et Mélisande (West Edge Opera); Turandot (San Diego Opera)
Upcoming: The Mother of Us All (Chautauqua Opera); Don Giovanni (Minnesota Opera)


Related Events


Kay & Martin Barrett

Martha & Charles Casey

Patricia & Stephen Lucas

Thomas Terry

Fran Klos

David Myers

Cap Lakes Logo New_web