An eruption of religion, sex and violence


Richard Strauss, Ivo van Hove,
Dutch National Opera

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If she can’t have his love, Princess Salome will have John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter. Richard Strauss’ opera Salome (1905) is an inescapable eruption of religion, sex, and violence. Dutch National Opera is premiering a new staging by director Ivo van Hove. In addition to his work as artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Van Hove has directed operas such as Der Ring des Nibelungen (2007/2008, Antwerp/Ghent) and Brokeback Mountain (2014, Madrid), and David Bowie’s musical Lazarus (2015, New York). The Swedish soprano Malin Byström stars in the title role, Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin is singing the role of John the Baptist. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is conducted by Daniele Gatti. This Salome promises to be a passionate analysis of the human spirit.

Background information

Oscar Wilde was inspired for his only successful tragedy by passages from the Books of Mark and Matthew about Salome's feelings of love and hate for John the Baptist. The stepdaughter of King Herod is driven by her desire for John the Baptist. However, he rejects her advances. So after performing a veil dance for Herod, Salome demands the head of John the Baptist.

Richard Strauss based his Salome (1905) on Oscar Wilde's tragedy. Kaiser Wilhelm II had reservations about the project at the time, telling Strauss, 'This Salome will do you no good.' To which the composer, looking back on a sensational success, later responded, 'The 'no good' enabled me to build my house in Garmisch.' 

Director Ivo van Hove has previously worked with the Dutch National Opera on new productions of The Makropulo Case (2009), Iolanta (2004) and Der Schatzgräber (2012) (‘The Treasure Hunter’). Following his DNO debut in Falstaff, conductor Daniele Gatti will be returning with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, of which he is now the principal conductor. Malin Byström will be making her debut in Amsterdam as Salome, while Doris Soffel (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome) will be portraying Herodias.



Dutch National Opera (DNO) is known for its diverse programming of both classic and modern operas and for the high quality of all its performances. Through innovative productions, works especially composed for the Dutch National Opera and a fresh take on  

familiar repertoire, this wonderful form of art is kept alive and given a place in the future. With Director Pierre Audi, the Dutch National Opera has a huge reputation in the international world of opera and all new productions are eagerly anticipated. In 2013, DNO won the international Opera Award for the best production of the year. 

Ivo van Hove (Belgium, 1958) has been the director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam since 2001. He launched his career as a theatre director in 1981 with his own productions (Ziektekiemen, Geruchten). He was artistic director of AKT, Akt-Vertikaal and De Tijd. From 1990 until 2000, he was the director of Het Zuidelijk Toneel. From 1998 until 2004, Van Hove was festival director of the Holland Festival. Since 1984, he has been a member of the artistic leadership of the Dramatic Arts department of the Hogeschool Antwerpen. 

Van Hove's productions are performed both nationally and internationally. He has directed at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Staatstheater Stuttgart, New York Theatre Workshop, Joop van den Ende, the Flemish Opera and the Dutch Opera, to name a few. In 2014, he directed the world premiere of the opera Brokeback Mountain with Teatro Real. Van Hove directed A View from the Bridge (2015) and The Crucible (2016) on Broadway and Lazarus, the musical by David Bowie, in New York. Toneelgroep Amsterdam has won various awards under the direction of Van Hove, for example for the marathon performance Roman tragedies and Het temmen van de feeks to Shakespeare, Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Ingmar Bergman's Scènes uit een huwelijk and John Cassavetes' Husbands and Opening Night

Van Hove's work has twice won an Obie Award for the best direction of an off-Broadway production in New York (for More Stately Mansions and Hedda Gabler), and Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004) in France. In 2007, he received the Critics Award in the Netherlands. In 2008, together with Jan Versweyveld, he received the Prosceniumprijs, a Dutch oeuvre prize, and in 2012 he received the Amsterdam Business Oeuvre Award. In 2015, Van Hove received the Amsterdam Award for the Arts. 

International critics have called the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra one of the best orchestras in the world. It is known for its exceptional sound and stylistic flexibility and it works with leading composers and conductors. Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky, for example, have stood in front of the orchestra on more than one occasion. Since it was founded in 1888, it has had six principal conductors: Willem Kes, Willem Mengelberg, Eduard van Beinum, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly and, since 2004, Mariss Jansons. Each year, the orchestra performs in front of about 250,000 guests. Since 2004, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has had its own label: RCO Live. In 2013, RCO Universe was launched, an innovative online application with enhanced concert recordings for iPad and iPhone. At the Academy of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, young, talented musicians are trained in orchestral playing. Last year, the orchestra performed Pique Dame at the Holland Festival, under the direction of Mariss Jansons. 

From this season, Daniele Gatti is the principal conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He studied piano and received his degree in composition and conducting at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in his home city of Milan. Between 2008 and 2016 he was principal conductor of the Orchestre National de France. Daniele Gatti was previously principal conductor of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (1992–97), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London (1996-2009), the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (1997–2007) and the Opernhaus Zürich (2009-12). He was the first guest conductor at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from 1994 to 1997 and in 2016 he became the artistic advisor of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Since his overwhelming debut in April 2004, Daniele Gatti has been a regular guest with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. During his first few seasons as principal conductor, he played an important role in the tour project RCO meets Europe. Daniele Gatti has led many opera productions in opera houses the world over. He has close ties with the Vienna State Opera and with La Scala in Milan, where he opened the 2013/14 season with La Traviata. He successfully conducted opera productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and is one of the few Italian conductors to make a regular appearance at the Bayreuther Festspiele, where he conducted Wagner's Parsifal in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.



Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss naar Oscar Wilde
musical director
Daniele Gatti
stage director
Ivo van Hove
set, lighting
Jan Versweyveld
An D’Huys
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Lance Ryan (Herodes), Doris Soffel (Herodias), Malin Byström (Salome), Evgeny Nikitin (Jochanaan), Benjamin Bernheim (Narraboth), Hanna Hipp (Ein Page der Herodias), Dietmar Kerschbaum, Thomas Ebenstein, Mark Omvlee, Marcel Beekman, Alexander Vassiliev (Fünf Juden), James Creswell, Roger Smeets (Zwei Nazarener)
De Nationale Opera

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