A crumbling society, an unstable political milieu, and the uncontrollability of desire are all starkly reflected in Victorian Opera’s new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome.

A direct translation of Oscar Wilde’s play drawn from the biblical tales of Salome, Strauss’ scandalous 90-minute opera still mesmerises 115 years after its premiere. The image of teenage Salome kissing the severed head of the man who rejected her, John the Baptist (Jochanaan), has fascinated artists for centuries and remains one of opera’s most horrifying moments.

The score of Strauss’ Salome is known for its power, immediacy, and rich orchestral colour, and features the hypnotic ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ in the moments before Salome requests the head of Jochanaan.

Reflecting on contemporary parallels in the production, director Cameron Menzies (Seven Deadly Sins, Yma Sumac: The Peruvian Songbird) notes: “There are so many threads in Salome that will resonate with a modern-day audience, such as an implanted foreign power ruling displaced indigenous tribes, a world on the brink of destruction and full of “sin” waiting for its Messiah to come and save it.” He continues, highlighting: “We wanted to explore the disease of corruption, the disease of fear, the disease of the appropriation of power and also the disease of a crown that sits on a ruler’s head.”

The short, sharp, shocking opera is performed at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda for three shows only on 22, 25, 27 February, 7:30 pm.

Bookings via 136 100 or victorianopera.com.au