Although the current 2003-04 season of New York City's Metropolitan Opera
is winding down, there were two provocative additions to the existing repertoire. Previously banned and restricted from the New York stage (as well as other opera houses throughout the world), the MET offered new productions of La Juive
Last performed during the 1935-36 season, the MET reprised Jacques Fromental Halévy's 1835 opera La Juive (The Jewess)
after a 68-year absence
. Set in 15th-century Constance, the story concerns a Jewish jeweler and his daughter's forbidden romance with a Christian Emperor’s son. The implications
of the libretto assert religious intolerance
, betrayal, and persecution of Jews, where anti-semitism is the motivating force
. Conflicting theories debate whether it was pulled in the 1930's to quell the conflagration of anti-semitism, or if trends were merely shifting away from French opera.
Also reprised was Salome
, Richard Strauss's 1905 opera based on Oscar Wilde's 1891 play
of the same name. During the performance, Salome performs the highly erotic Dance of the Seven Veils
for her stepfather Herod, striping completely naked, and then molesting the severed head of St. John. During the 1907 premier at the MET, the production was so scandalous, that it was cancelled after the first performance. It was then permanently banned
until 1934, and has only been reprised four times in past 70 years. The new production continues to reflect on past debates
, flagging the licentious strip tease and immoral relationship between Herod and teenaged Salome.
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