Tomorrow night the curtain goes up on the Staatstheater's premiere of Salome, the famous Oscar Wilde/Richard Strauss opera about John the Baptist and the disfunctional family he is imprisoned by. At the center of that family stands Salome, the teenage daughter of a jealous mother and incestuous step-father, who uses her beauty and manipulative skill to get whatever she wants. How exactly does she get what she wants? By dancing. What exactly does she want? The head of John the Baptist.
Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils happens halfway through the opera, and is seen by many as the climax of the piece. Choreographing the dance was the first time I had ever worked with singers, and I was lucky to have Yamina, a beautiful singer who performs with her whole body. She made my job easy, and she is also very tall, so we had a good understanding of each other from the get-go.
The opera is the biggest production I have ever been involved with .... from that side of the director's table. Things look very different from that angle, I was quick to learn.
There are many people to manage. There are many languages to manage. You have to fight for what you want. You have to compromise. And most importantly, the collaboration with the Director herself. Gabriele Rech is incredibly talented, and honestly I never thought I would laugh so much with an opera director. She is also fiercely strong and thinks big. Perhaps most important for me to observe, she knows how to get what she needs from performers in order to set her ideas in motion, but always with grace and respect. She is the blonde below, seen from the wings through the aquariums that are part of the set.
Some rehearsals I let Yamina go home early, which meant I replaced her as Salome in the dance...
...but I was always glad to have her there, and to watch from the other side of the regie tisch.