Continuing with the 20th century opera theme - - a pair from Strauss's *Salome*:
Mensch: John the Baptist
Here are the last moments from the opera, with Maria Ewing, my first Salome. I've since heard two others (Catherine Malfitano and Karita Mattila) who sang the role better, but you never forget your first Salome. Let me set the scene: Salome has been spurned by John the Baptist (aka Jokanaan) and she does the Dance of the Seven Veils to get her uncle/stepfather, Herod, to kill him. She has a skirmish with Herod, but he eventually does give in and have John the Baptist killed and his head put on a silver platter. Salome has a long and fascinating scene with the head - - Strauss wrote some startlingly romantic music for this, it's rather unsettling. But as The Carpenters would say, "We've only just begun!" Salome kisses the head, as she's said along along she was going to do. This diva shows him who's in charge!
Oscar Wilde wrote the play in French and it was translated into German by Hedwig Lachmann. The text is in the clip, but it's so fabulous, I'll give it to you here:
"Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan. I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood? But perchance it is the taste of love. They say that love hath a bitter taste... But what of that? What of that? I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan. I have kissed thy mouth."
And then Herod tells the guards to kill her. So I guess it's THAT diva who's ultimately in charge?