The story of Salome has inspired artists, filmmakers, and opera composers for centuries. Some adapted the original Biblical story – and scandalous Oscar Wilde play – while others have utilized elements from the tale of Salome to inform their own story. Nowhere does Salome’s story come to life more than in opera and on the silver screen.
To celebrate Salome in film and in opera, American Cinematheque and LA Opera have joined forces to present a special evening at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. First, there will be a screening of the famous 1953 film version of Salome starring Rita Hayworth. While the film takes liberties with the Biblical story, it is a perfect example of film epics in the “glory days of technicolor” and required viewing for both Salome and film enthusiasts. Following the screening, Maestro James Conlon (who conducts Salome at LA Opera starting on February 18) and actor Stephen Fry (who portrayed Oscar Wilde in the 1997 biopic) will discuss the importance of Salome in film and opera. All attendees will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to LA Opera’s production of Salome.
Before attending the evening at the Aero, get in the mood. We’ve pulled together a few films to watch and music from the opera.
Salome in Silent Cinema
The silent film era is filled with adaptations. Filmmakers who sought legitimacy for this emerging art form from their more established counterparts found inspiration from operas, novels, and plays. In fact, many celebrated silent films are based on other artistic works, including 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera (based on the Gaston Leroux’s novel) and 1909’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (based on the Shakespeare play).
Oscar Wilde’s play inspired filmmaker Charles Bryant’s 1923 Salome starring famous silent film star Alla Nazimova and featuring elaborate costume and production design.
Sunset Boulevard Salome
While not an adaptation of Salome, the iconic 1950 film Sunset Boulevard does use Salome as part of its story. Directed by Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard is the story of unsuccessful screenwriter Joe Gillis who is drawn into the web of aging, delusional silent film star, Norma Desmond. Norma writes a script for a film about Salome and intends to make a comeback by starring in the film. Without spoiling the film (which is one of the best movies about Hollywood), Salome plays a huge part in the film’s final scenes.
Richard Strauss’s opulent score for Salome pulls you straight into the notorious character’s mind. Before seeing the show, listen the opera below and fall in love with Strauss’s music.
To reserve tickets for James Conlon and Stephen Fry’s talk about Salome at American Cinematheque, click here.
To learn more about and purchase tickets to Salome at LA Opera, click here.