Staatstheater Mainz, 2001
"Princess Salome is not killed, not punished in the end for her sexual pathology – for her raging, deathly lust for the decapitated head of John the Baptist, whose murder the girl forces out of her father in a devilish fancy. He reacts with brutal disgust: 'Kill this woman!' But the soldiers in this production ignore the command, and go even further: they yield in panicked horror before the neurotic woman-child, backing away as if from a blood-smeared ghost who stands in upright opposition like a sacred, proud Johanna. With the last cruel chords of the orchestra, it is not Salome but the curtain that falls over a drama – an
aesthetically beautiful nightmare about the perversion of the engulfing power of female love – that excited our ancestors with hair-raising shivers at the end of the last century.
"Just as Salome is not actually crushed here, young director Anouk Nicklisch avoids any other correspondence the real story of the Jewish king's monstrous daughter.
"Anouk Nicklisch's precisely choreographed staging – movement sequences that consistently isolate the wholly autistic characters in the story – unfolds in a world of at once oppressive and dreamily beautiful sterility. … Her talent lies in exact, well-reasoned, never overburdened chamber pieces that are completely developed from the musical constellations and sequences.
"She conceived the scenic character portraits – and also the costumes – so brilliantly that their inner contours are physically realized ... without sliding into caricature. …
"This Salome (Elizabeth Hagedorn) is the opposite of her mother Herodias (Edith Fuhr), who wallows in affected pathos. She is far more the product of Herod (Alexander Spemann), who rotundly sprawls in his armchair and articulates his problems with sharp tenor. In her abysmal boredom, the princess is affected only by one (desire) addiction – lust for the man who represents the opposite of all other men in Narraboth, which idolize stupidity and lewdness. Jochanaan (Elmar Andree) is a completely aloof intellectual, and Salome loves his mental counter-power more than the fact that he is of the opposite sex.
"This production is one of dramaturgical reflection, with almost consummate stage balance within the finely tuned details and atmosphere, exactness and elan of play, subtlety and irony to counters clichés. All of this is most apparent in the most famous, lascivious 'number' of the through-composed tragedy: Salome's dance. Instead of erotic eurythmy celebrated by waving scarves and veils, it is the cynically calculated strip pantomime of a woman initially dressed as a man, who excruciatingly bares her sex to her father … . Blood red, like that in Salome's 'corselets' which illuminates gaudy enamel, plays a central role in the production. So does the motif of “forbidden glances“ and voyeurism, like the greedy gazes from the supporting roles of five Jews, two soldiers and Nazarenes during Salome's dance. Pandemonium of vicarious satisfaction: acrimony and wit, obscenity and intellectual 'coolness' are balanced.
"And the apotheosis, Salome's scandalous kiss on the lips of the severed head? It ends with a surprise: the fetish of masculinity is not a disguise here, but rather the red painted mask of death, which Salome presses onto her own head. That is why her face is smeared with blood.
"… This Salome also demonstrates how strong musical theater can be in the so-called German provinces."
translated by Hayley Glickfeld Bielman
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
15. January 2001
Andrea K. Schlehwein