Salome: A Tragedy in One Act
by Oscar Wilde
Salome - A Tragedy in One Act by Oscar Wilde. Salome has made the author's name a household word wherever the English language is not spoken. Few ... Show synopsis Salome - A Tragedy in One Act by Oscar Wilde. Salome has made the author's name a household word wherever the English language is not spoken. Few plays have such a peculiar history. Before tracing briefly the vicissitudes of a work that has been more execrated than even its author, I venture to repeat the corrections which I communicated to the Morning Post when the opera of Dr. Strauss was produced in a mutilated verson at Covent Garden in December, 1910. That such reiteration is necessary is illustrated by the circumstance that a musical critic in the Academy of December 17th, 1910, wrote of Wilde's "imaginative verses" apropos of Salome - a strange comment on the honesty of musical criticism. Salome is in prose, not in verse. Salome was not written for Madame Sarah Bernhardt. It was not written with any idea of stage representation. Wilde did not write the play in English, nor afterwards re-write it in French, because he "could not get it acted in English" as stated by Mr. G. K. Chesterton on the authority, presumably, of Chambers's Encyclopaedia or some other such source of that writer's culture. It was not offered to any English manager. In no scene of Wilde's play does Salome dance round the head of the Baptist, as she is represented in music-hall turns. The name "John" does not occur either in the French or German text. Critics speak contemptuously of "Wilde's libretto adapted for the opera." Except for the performance at Covent Garden which was permitted only on conditions of mutilation, there has been no adaptation. Certain passages were omitted by Dr. Strauss because the play (which is in one act) would be too long without these cuts. Wilde's actual words in Madame Hedwig Lachmann's admirable translation are sung. The words have not been transfigured into ordinary operatic nonsense to suit the score. When the opera is given in French, however, the text used is not Wilde's French original, but a French translation fitted to the score from the German.