The Gaze and the Circumvention of Power in Richard Strauss’ Salome
Richard Strauss’ opera “Salome” is a musical discourse of the uneven power dynamics between male and female with the idea of the gaze as its central narrative. Under the patriarchal premise of the male gaze, the men emerge as the gazers, while the women are relegated to the role of submissive objectification. This paper examines the way Salome manipulates this patriarchal notion of the gaze for her own gain, voluntarily offering herself as the object of the male gaze. I further postulated that Salome strategically oscillates between the stereotypical image of femme fatale and femme fragile, intentionally succumbing to the masculine-constructed demonization and idealization of female power. Consequently, this paper traces how Strauss’ music realizes those gender portrayals and Salome’s resistance against the male order, reflecting the use of musical analyses as a tool in understanding gender roles and power in operas.