Not all of Richard Strauss’ operas were public successes.  With many of his theatrical pieces such as “Elektra”, Strauss expected too much from the audience.  With his opera “The Egyptian Helen” he also demanded too much from the main singer. While “Rosenkavalier” was able to achieve box office success, the opera “Peace Day” received mixed reviews to this day.


The charming Viennese love story "Arabella" – which was assumed to be a "second Rosenkavalier" – was the last collaboration between Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal (who did not live to see its premiere).
After he had finished “Intermezzo” Strauss requested that his writer write a new libretto.  Shortly before the full completion of their cooperative work on “The Egyptian Helen”, Strauss’ request became more urgent:  “... I now have no more work! So please: write! It can even be a ‘second Rosenkavalier’! ”
Hofmannsthal referred back to older drafts (the novella "Lucidor" and the comedy scenario "The cab Count") and created "a comic opera, almost operetta" which according to him was “related to the Rosenkavalier, without in any way being an imitation". The plot takes place in Vienna in 1860 and Strauss is immediately inspired.

The death of Hofmannsthal

The poet and the composer exchanged letters about the work of ‘Arabella’ in a very amicable way.   The titular girl from an impoverished family falls in love with the rich Croatian noble Mandryka, while her sister Zedenka (after many troubles) finds her life with the young officer Matteo. In order to describe the male hero Strauss studied Croatian folk songs.  He created the Viennese atmosphere with a series of waltzes.
On July 10, 1929 Hofmannsthal sent the Arabella monologue through with a "quiet contemplative ending” in the first act. He could unfortunately not read the thank you letter that he received from Strauss, because Hofmannsthal was hit by a stroke. Dramatic weaknesses, which "Arabella" clearly has, can be attributed to the untimely death of the poet.

Premiere in grave times

The dedicatee - Dresdner music director Fritz Busch – also disappeared before the premiere.  However this was due to the National Socialist regime that had already taken control of Germany. The Viennese State Opera director Clemens Krauss took over from Busch for the premiere (July 1, 1933).  His future wife Viorica Ursuleac sang the lead role.
"Arabella" was a worthy conclusion of an unprecedented collaboration, that Strauss later summarized as follows: "Hofmannsthal was the only poet who in addition to his poetic power and stage talent, also had the empathy necessary to present the composer’s works and setting to music in an accessible way…”.

Ariadne on Naxos

There is hardly an opus of Strauss’ that encompasses so many different works as that of "op 60": two versions of an opera, two versions of a musical play and an orchestral suite. For an opera lover, "Ariadne" is the only work which perhaps contains the most famous words in a libretto by Hofmannsthal: "Music is a sacred art"
Hofmannsthal had intended for "Ariadne" to be an interlude in their cooperative work but it ended up to becoming "a new genre".  Strauss was at first rather cool to the poet’s idea and the problematic premiere in Stuttgart in 1912 seemed to prove him right. As a thank you to Max Reinhardt, Strauss’ one-act opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" was made a sequel to a new version of Moliere's "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme".  Both the ensemble as well as the audience were overwhelmed.

It was quickly decided that the work had to be revised. A thoroughly composed prelude in "the house of the richest man in Vienna" replaced the comedy, in which one of the most celebrated figures of the author duo emerges: the composer, a man’s role similar to that of Octavian. His praise of the art is programmatic: "Music is a sacred art, to gather all kinds of courage" (the word "a" had to be added by Hofmannsthal in order to make it more “singable”)

Oblivion and Persistence

The reduced orchestra of "Ariadne" is striking. Strauss positioned himself closer to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – his ideal and stripped away the "Wagnerian musical tank” as he told his partner. In any case, Hofmannsthal's text had inspired the composer to create a string of pearl-like delicate musical ideas. In a letter, the poet explains the depth in the plot of "Ariadne": on one hand the tension between transformation and oblivion, on the other hand, persistence and loyalty as "one of the abysmal contradictions, upon which our existence is built".

On the way to Vienna

The work was premiered on October 4, 1916 in its finalised version, in the Vienna Court Opera under the baton of Franz Schalk.  This would pave the way for the taking over by Strauss as director three years later.  Remarkably the premiere of the musically revised “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” under the composer’s baton (1924) would be his last Viennese premiere in this position.  After “Rosenkavalier”, “Ariadne on Naxos” was the second declaration of love for the city, which Strauss had not always loved.


With this “treat for cultural food lovers” Richard Strauss bid farewell to the creation of operas: “…it is still the best and most worthy conclusion and should remain like this until eternity Amen!”
There is no other libretto of a Strauss opera that has gone through so many hands: The first scenario (1934) was from Stefan Zweig, to whom Strauss already had to announce as early as April 1935 that he could no longer keep his position due to the political situation.
Zweig recommended Joseph Gregor, with whom the work on the project was resumed in 1939. However his draft did not satisfy Strauss (Gregor’s libretti were then used towards "Daphne", "Peace Day" and "The Love of Danae"), the composer thus turned to the conductor Clemens Krauss, with whom he finally completed the opera. The central sonnet in the piece was by Pierre Ronsard and then translated by the conductor Hans Swarovsky.

"Prima la musica…"

The origin of "Capriccio" is accurately documented in the correspondence with Clemens Krauss (the most substantial letter exchange, which Strauss had engaged in after the one with Hofmannsthal). The core theme of the opera focuses on the recurring question whether it is poetry or music that takes precedence.
This conflict between a poet and a musician is presented.  They are working together on an opera (which is "Capriccio"!) and both adore the Countess Madeleine. The piece concludes "with a question mark"; the elegant Madeleine, who is the embodiment of Strauss’ stage characters, does not dare the make that decision.

"... Only a will ..."

The librettist Krauss also directed the acclaimed world premiere of "Capriccio" on October 28, 1942 at the Munich Opera, of which he was the director. A superb cast (including Viorica Ursuleac and Hans Hotter) were at his disposal, and until the destruction of the Munich opera in October 1943, the work was sold-out.
When Krauss suggested another opera project to the composer, the latter answered: "It is only possible to leave one will!" With the moonlight interlude from the finale of Capriccio, Strauss appeared for the last time on the conductor’s podium on July 13, 1949.


The librettist Joseph Gregor described the opera “Daphne” as a bucolic tragedy.  It is also seen as a mythological counterpart to Richard Strauss' "Peace": humankind who strives to reconcile with God, nature and himself.
Plutarch and Ovid told the story. "Daphne" - is also one of the oldest librettos in the history of opera: Jacopo Peri's "Dafne" of which the music remains lost until today, is considered the first opera in the history of music.  Heinrich Schütz used the same plot for the first opera in German language.

Love for Nature

Daphne's love for nature, the involvement in the triangular relationship between the shepherd boy Leucippus, the God Apollo and Daphne run like a red thread through the history of music. When Strauss was confronted with the idea of devoting himself to the Daphne content, he spoke of a possible "one-act play".
And so it was – with a running time of barely two hours – until October 15, 1938 when it had its premiere in Dresden.   The conductor Karl Böhm, to whom the score was dedicated, directed the premiere.  It was the ninth and last Strauss opera in Dresden.

“Theatre and no literature!”

Prior to the premiere there were extensive discussions about the libretto, and also questions about who (after the death of Hofmannsthal and the political murder of the Jewish Stefan Zweig under the Nazi dictatorship) could provide the necessary inspiration as a librettist.
Joseph Gregor (who had written the text to “Peace Day” in close collaboration with Stefan Zweig) was proposed.  Despite the recommendation by Zweig, Gregor, the son of a Sudeten German architect and founder of the Vienna Theatre Museum had no easy task.

After the "Daphne" concept was transmitted, Strauss wrote: "It is completely back to back, no trace of any suspense, there is a big debate missing between Apollo, Leucippus and Daphne ... dark and mysterious. Nothing should happen behind the scenes, not even the murder of Leucippus! Theater and no literature! "
Three text versions of the libretto were produced by the inexperienced Gregor before either of them (during travels in summer and winter 1936 and 1937 Garmisch and on the Adriatic coast) could agree on a fourth.  The agreement made with Clemens Krauss in May 1937 – without the prior consent of Gregor – caused for another scandal: "We have agreed that after Apollo's departure no other human being can appear on stage other than Daphne!”

„Ich komme – ich komme – Grünende Brüder“

In December on a trip to Taormina, Strauss completed the score.  For connoisseurs, the work was dubbed an "insider’s tip" - and loosely formulated as the first "Green" opera: With Daphne's transformation into a laurel tree – suitable as a miracle that is performed on an open stage – Strauss had created one of the most beautiful passages in his oeuvre.
Lyricist Gregor philosophized about the finale in poetic tones: "The transformation of Daphne - a specially designated section - has her nature fulfilled, but infinitely above and beyond nature like Salome who fulfilled her passion through music.  Here it is complete oneness with the music so that the words can be rejected and Daphne’s voice is heard chiming over the moonlit tree tops."

The Egyptian Helen

Apparently an ancient motif, "Egyptian Helena" raised the highly current post First World War issue: how to forget or at least get over traumatic events - with or without the use of magic potion.
"Hurray, the dynasty is saved. An All Saint’s Day child must at the very least become Pope.” At the end of 1927, (perhaps in the bliss of becoming a first time grandfather) Richard Strauss experienced difficult artistic times:  Dresden, which was selected as the location for the premiere of “The Egyptian Helen” did not have the budget for soprano Maria Jeritza to sing the main role.  Instead Dresden’s own court singer was chosen.
Jeritza was quite insulted by this, and even refused to sing at the Vienna premiere just five days later.  Strauss’ comment to her that “this role will bring you unprecedented triumph” made her change her mind.
According to Fritz Busch - who conducted the première on June 6, 1928 in Dresden – the jubilation in Vienna proved Richard Strauss right.   Jeritza, knowing her vocal weaknesses in the second act, faked a small fainting episode, so that no one could take her place at the evening premiere later.
The press gave mixed reviews. Strauss approved some modifications (in cooperation with the conductor Clemens Krauss) for the premiere at the Salzburg festival in 1933.

“Let us make mythological operas”

In 1920, shortly after "Ariadne" and "Woman without a Shadow", Hugo von Hofmannsthal had suggested another antiquity motif to Strauss: "Danae or the marriage of convenience". This was a subject that Strauss did not want to address. Only years later with Joseph Gregor as a librettist was this made possible.
However, Hofmannsthal’s "Helena" was chosen in 1928 "Let us make mythological opera, it is the truest of all forms" is however chosen. The homecoming of Helen and Menelaus from the burning, war-torn Troy raised the fruitful cooperation between Hofmannsthal and Strauss to the next stage.

"It simply needs it for the chambermaids"

1923, when the poet delivered a tight scenario to Strauss, questions came up not only about aesthetics but reference surfaced to occupation details. The horrors of the First World War were reflected in the work as well as baroque stage practices – as well as the current question about to what extent traumatic events can be forgotten or dealt with  (whether with or without magic potion – in present terms: psychotropic drugs). After extensive correspondence and even with short periods of inactivity in 1928 the work on "Helena" was completed and rehearsals could begin.
When premiere conductor Fritz Busch bluntly referred to some passages in the score as being trivial, Strauss responded calmly: "It simply needs this for the chambermaids, trust me, the people would not go and listen to “Tannhäuser”, if the “Song to the evening star” would not be in it.”

Original score as an investment

"Egyptian Helena" never become a repertory work, regardless of the highly dramatic roles pushing the boundaries of being singable. Revivals in 1970 at the State Opera or lastly - in concert form - at the Salzburg Festival, showed that this work had potential.
Richard Strauss wanted to establish a family estate for the grandson who was named after him.  The purchase of the previously leased Vienna "Belvedere-Schlössl" was paid with the original score of "The Egyptian Helena" - and with 100 evenings of unpaid conducting.

The Love of Danae

Gold or Love – this seems to be the question in the life of Danae.  The subtitle “cheerful myth” points to an operetta-like mood, however the piece is bitterly serious.
"Thank you for the Danae-scene: it contains some nice ideas - but does not correspond with what I had in mind." Joseph Gregor, who was recommended by the “Danae” librettist Stefan Zweig, did had have an easy task. It seemed as if Strauss made it blatantly clear - not least with the countless amendments that he requested - that Gregor’s ability could never compare with the genius of a Zweig or Hofmannsthal.
And it is this very same Gregor who was able to inspire Strauss with material that the latter had laid aside without comment years ago in 1920, when Hofmannsthal drew up a scenario with the same content. Yet Strauss had considered this work to be the culmination and final creation of his entire production, that is, before his "Capriccio".

“Greek Twilight of the Gods”

The all gold and divine immortality of the love denying Danae – was an unworldly topic during war time. Strauss's Jewish daughter in law was under house arrest, and her sons were expelled from school.  At the completion of the first act, the German invasion of Poland took place: it seemed that the composition "Danae", was Strauss' comfort and joy during these difficult times.
The work, subtitled "cheerful myth" and planned as a light operetta-like comedy, (in Offenbach form), naturally introduces Jupiter as a figure with which Strauss himself could identify: The mild transfiguration and Jupiter's resignation in the third act, once again reflect Strauss’ life situation: "... in the distance flows the large Ruhlose into the evening’s parting".
Heitere Ironie und bitterer Ernst liegen in der „Danae“ nahe beieinander. Ein dichtes Geflecht an (Leit-)Motiven, das mit dem „Ring“ korrelierende Thema vom korrumpierenden Gold lässt auch den Ausspruch von der „Griechischen Götterdämmerung“ (Willi Schuh in seiner Uraufführungskritik) gerecht erscheinen: Zeus, Jupiter und Wagners Wotan in einer Reihe.
Serene irony and the bitterly serious are closely related themes in the “Danae”.  A dense network of leitmotifs, (that are associated with “Ring’s” theme of corrupted gold, makes the saying "Greek Twilight of the Gods" appear fair (according to Willi Schuh in his critique of the premiere).  Zeus, Jupiter and Wagner's Wotan – all together in a row.

Dress Rehearsal instead of Premiere

On June 29, 1940, the score was already completed.  Conductor Clemens Krauss who had consulted on the Libretto, received the right to hold the premiere of the work in Salzburg.  At the beginning of August 1944, the work was supposed to have its premiere on Strauss’ 80th birthday.  However, the attempt to assassinate Hitler, the total declaration of war - and, not least, the resentment that Strauss had again drawn upon himself - prevented the performance.

“The most beautiful conclusion to my life”

Only after intense persuasion by Clemens Krauss and the Salzburg Gauleiter Gustav Scheel, a compromise was reached: Propaganda Minister Goebbels allowed a semi-public dress-rehearsal on August 16th.  The actual premiere (which was also to take place at the Salzburg Festival) followed in 1952 but Strauss’ “Danae” never managed to be included in the repertoire.
Furthermore:  it is only at the Salzburg festival new production in 2002, that a Baritone (Franz Grundheber) attempted to perform the original high tones of the usually deeply transposed Jupiter part.
At least the finale was unquestionably the most touching – written by Richard Strauss himself in 1944 after the dress rehearsal:  "It was the last, unforgettable, most beautiful conclusion of my artistic life."


After a visit to Reinhardt’s Berlin theatre, the composer had a new idea for an opera: in 1903 he saw “Elektra” by the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal in whom he soon discovered his ideal librettist.
At first, the composer demanded a light comedy or "beautiful Renaissance material" from the writer.  However they soon compromised on “Elektra”. Strauss' concern, that the material was too similar to "Salome" weakened Hofmannsthal: "Salome has so much purple and violet, in a sultry air.  Elektra on the other hand, has a mixture of night and light, dark and bright".
The cooperation begins in June 1906 which is documented in the fascinating correspondence between the two geniuses.  Two years later, Strauss moves into the villa in Garmisch, where he can concentrate on the completion of "Elektra".

"Dieses dämonische, ekstatische Griechentum"

Hofmannsthal based himself on Sophocles, as he had on the “studies about hysteria” by Breuer and Freud.  His was determined to set this “demonic, ecstatic Greek mythology of the 6th century against Goethe’s humanity”.
This musical drama is thrilling from the first to the last second and is on the extreme outpost of traditional aesthetics.  The proud and powerful daughter Elektra is devastated by the murder of her father Agamemnon and wishes for her brother who she thinks is dead.  However, he appears (the recognition scene between the two siblings is the peak of the opera) and takes revenge on his father’s murderer – the mother Klytaemnestra and her new lover Aegisth.    Elektra perishes in her own ecstatic dance of joy.

"Music? I never heard any music!"

Once again, the premiere took place on January 25, 1909 at the Dresden Opera under the baton of conductor Schuch (Strauss writes to him: "Despite all the temptations, you can count on the fact that I will remain faithful to you").  The work again elicited great international response with the usual snide comments among the chorus of enthusiasts.
Strauss, who was naïve and honest and always preferred the smart and educated spread the following anecdote: "After a performance in Basel an honest Schwyzer was asked how he had liked the opera.  ‘Oh, quite fantastic!' – And the music?' – ‘Music? I never heard any music…!' I prefer such an audience compared to a criticizing amateur who basically has not even understood the music.”


The audience’s reception to this opera remains mixed until this day.  On one hand, the work sends a message of freedom, but on the other hand it is difficult to separate it from its appropriation by the National Socialist party.
“In the meantime, I am writing you regarding the festive one act play:  (...) I would like to summarize three of its elements:  the tragic, the heroic and the human, where the hymn of the people’s reconciliation with the grace of reconstruction lingers:  however, I would like to leave out the emperors and kings from the entire game and to make it anonymous.”
On August 21, 1934, Stefan Zweig sent a scenario to Strauss.  A few months later the political situation around the premiere of their mutually created work “A Silent Woman” escalated.  A second opera with a libretto written by the Jewish Stefan Zweig thus no longer seemed possible.

“This goes all on Stilts”

In October 1935, Strauss wrote about the project, that Zweig had initially referred to as “1648”: "I do not think a field marshal has ever – in the thirty years of war – referred to the “beautiful thoughts of the war”. This is a kind of 'poetry', which completely failed in the theater. "
Despite the lack of fascinating content and Strauss’ comment that “it does not want to become music“, the work was nonetheless reworked (parallel to “Daphne) and completed in June 1936.  The one act op.81 and the bucolic tragedy would be premiered together in Dresden. A thought arose whether the parallel content seemed absurd: The reconciliation between people is again reflected in the reconciliation with nature.

Premiere in Munich

The plans would change at short notice.  Strauss assigned the premiere to Clemens Krauss, who had already conducted the work at the start of the summer festival in Munich on July 24, 1938.  Nonetheless, due to the dominant chorus scenes, “Friedenstag” was performed in German theatres almost one hundred times until the peak of the Second World War.

 “Lover, not the sword!”

Public acceptance of this work is mixed to this day. The warning about non-violence and the parallel to Beethoven’s “Fidelio” point towards a message of freedom:  with words such as “Lover, not the sword!  No longer the words discord and hatred!”  Maria leads the reconciliation between the enemy commanding officers.  The one act opera ends with “Ruler, Spirit, to you!”.
And yet: It is difficult to separate the opera from its Nazi appropriation – the police was to keep the war plans secretive.  The statement of this opera which was born out of National Socialist spirit, and the interpretations of the finale as an apotheosis on the Messiah of a "millennial kingdom" continue to be felt today.
The reason that “Friedenstag” is today still one of the least played works by Strauss, is to a certain extent due to the theme of Westphalian freedom.  It is also because of the music itself, which could be characterized as brittle and “second-rate.”

The Woman without a Shadow

For Strauss lovers (especially from Vienna) this is the “opera of operas” or the “inaugural gift” for the new artistic director of the Vienna State Opera right after the First World War.
Already by the end of 1910, first plans of this fairy-tale opera appeared in the notebooks of Hofmannsthal. Just like "Rosenkavalier" had continued on the theme of "Figaro", the "Woman without a Shadow" (in correspondence tenderly referred to as "Fr.o.Sch.") would be compared to the "Magic Flute".
“All four of them must be purified” Hofmannsthal noted "the dyer and his wife, the Emperor and the fairy daughter.  The one pair is too gloomy and earthly, while the other pair too proud and far removed from earth”.  With the “fairy daughter”, Strauss refers to the Empress who is unable to bear children and thus unable to cast a shadow.
By rejecting happiness that would have meant the loss of misfortune of another person, the Empress matures as a human being. Hofmannsthal presents his poetry in Goethe-words: “From the law that binds all beings, man can only free himself, by overcoming it.”

“One of the most glorious chapters”

Nine years would pass until the premiere on October 19, 1919 – also due to the fact that the authors refused to present this “last romantic opera” during war time.  The librettist would fight against having Vienna as the location for the premiere of “Woman without a Shadow”.
The new appointment of the composer, the fabulous cast (which included Maria Jeritza, Lotte Lehmann and Richard Mayr) and the philharmonic, all contributed to the eruption of this opera.   Strauss concluded in written that “this achievement by the opera orchestra in accomplishing the initial sounding of my extraordinarily difficult score, is one of the most beautiful chapters in the history of orchestra”.

"A fairy tale within this orchestra"

Even the hardest critic Julius Korngold, confirmed the orchestra’s mastery “a fairy tale is within this orchestra“.
While this time it was the libretto that was criticized, the reviewers praised the music unanimously – except for some who thought that Strauss had now clearly become “old-fashioned”.  On the other hand, the extreme success of this last operatic creation could not be repeated.  “The Woman without a Shadow” remained today an opera for experts and connoisseurs.”

Der Rosenkavalier

Here it is: the comedy that Strauss had longed for: “our Figaro” (as Hofmannsthal had once referred to it).  At the same time a return to a tradition-aware form of composition as well as a surprising turning point for the “musician of the future”.
Shortly after “Elektra”, Hofmannsthal developed a “totally fresh script for a comic opera” for his composer. (In creating it, he was inspired by comedies and novels of Moliere, Goethe, Hogarth, and de Musset). This opera was performed in Maria Theresa’s Vienna.
The opera also has Maria Theresa as a main character, while the other two protagonists fight for the honor of being the godparents: Strauss suggested "Ochs auf Lerchenau" as an opera title but then settled on Pauline Strauss’ suggestion of "Der Rosenkavalier".
The scenes that Hofmannsthal gradually submitted were "composed like oil and butter" (as Strauss had written to his poet).  His highest praise: "You are da Ponte and Scribe in one."

Acclaimed "Change"

The Dresden premiere was prepared down to the last detail: chosen to join the established Strauss-conductor Ernst von Schuch was set designer Alfred Roller (who had also designed a director's script) and the director Max Reinhardt - the authors had insisted on the latter being part of the team, however his name was not included on the cast list.
On January 26, 1911 "Der Rosenkavalier" was “baptized” before an enthusiastic audience which happily acknowledged the composer’ “change”.  Very soon after, specially chartered trains for "Der Rosenkavalier" had to be organised.
Within a few months, the piece made its way round the world – allbeit without avoiding immune to harsh criticism and distortions: the flood of waltzes in the “Rosenkavalier” was criticized and until 1924, Berlin only accepted to show a “purified version” of the "inappropriate" love scenes!
"Rosenkavalier" performances everywhere also meant choral festivals - the ideal Ochs was first added in Vienna: Strauss had Richard Mayr in mind when composing.

"For eternity"

Although the comic theme of an old duped groom is a popular one, the description of Baron Ochs (or even that of the passionate love between the Marschallin and Octavian) as well as the burgeoning affection between him and Sophie are of original, never-ending beauty. With this most performed operas, Strauss had secured a special place “for all eternity” (words used by the lovers in the last act) as the most popular composer of the 20th Century.


The one act opera about the “Princess of Judaea” secured Richard Strauss’ world renowned reputation as a composer of opera composer.
An Oriental opera that truly exhibited "eastern flavor with a glowing sun", had attracted Strauss for quite some time.  But instead of having a libretto drafted by the poet Anton Lindner, after an introductory visit to Max Reinhard’s “little theatre” in Berlin in 1903, Strauss composed Wilde's play from the sheet.  He made the necessary adjustments and cuts himself.

"A unique experiment"

The drama became more pronounced by the shortening of the text, and especially by the setting to music: The beautiful young princess desires the imprisoned prophet Jochanaan; when he refuses, Salome dances for her stepfather Herod in exchange for the head of Jochanaan which she then kisses.  Herod orders the girl’s death. "The desire for the sharpest human characteristics" led Strauss to the limits of traditional harmony.
He knew very well that this would challenge the conservative contemporaries – while he was practising parts of his new work on the piano, his father cried out:  “Oh God, this music is so nervous!  It is as if a Christmas beetle is crawling around in your pants!”  Cosima Wagner said “This is amazing!”

Censorship difficulties

Even the singers were initially unable or unwilling to give "Salome" justice. However, under the baton of Ernst von Schuch, the work became a major public success at its premiere in Dresden on December 9, 1905.  Within two years, “Salome” had already appeared on fifty different stages, but in some places there were still difficulties of censorship to tackle.
Emperor Wilhelm II’s concerns were put to rest when he was promised (for the Berlin premiere) that the Star of Bethlehem would be visible at the end. In New York and London, the opera was temporarily banned.  At the Vienna Court Opera, the director Gustav Mahler strove in vain for permission to premiere the opera, which only took place in 1918. Afterwards "Salome" established itself as one of the most exciting masterpieces of opera literature.

The Silent Woman

Would his opera work really come to an end, as Strauss had feared, after Hofmannsthal’s death?  Despite the threats that would be inflicted upon him during Nazi Germany, Strauss had found a congenial writer in the Jewish Stefan Zweig with whom he worked so well together.
It was the publisher Anton Kippenberg who put Strauss in touch with Stefan Zweig for the first time in 1931.  The latter had recommended the new version of Ben Johnson’s comedy “Epicoene” or “The Silent Woman” to him (a piece from the end of the 18th Century).  The composer was extremely impressed by Zweig’s work and defined “The Silent Woman” as the best libretto for a comic opera since “Figaro”. 
In February 1933 Strauss began writing the score and one month later the Reichstag elections brought the Nazis to power in Germany.  When the propaganda minister Goebbels suggested to the composer that a performance of a finished opera in early 1935 would "embarrass the government”, Strauss laid the indisputable libretto in front of those in power  - and received approval for the premiere, which was fixed for June 24th in Dresden.

"…to do without you? Never ever!"

Stefan Zweig wrote:  during all this time, Strauss had “shown friendly disposition, correctness and even courage towards me." It would be very daring on his part that Richard Strauss insisted on including the librettist’s name in the credits of the premiere poster.  Just before the premiere, Strauss had written to Zweig that he would “never ever” do without his cooperation.  The letter that contained several attacks against the Regime, was intercepted by the Gestapo.  Thereafter, Strauss had his title removed as the Reich’s music chamber president.

"How beautiful the music is…"

It seems as if the rapid onset of the Nazi boycott in 1945 against "The Silent Woman" harmed the work even until today.  In the relatively rare performances – such as at the Salzburg Festival in 1959 and at the Vienna State Opera in 1996 - one learns about this masterful comedy in which the grouchy Sir Morosus plans to marry.  Due to the playful intrigue of his nephew Henry, Sir Morosus marries and then is “cured”.
When Morosus finally frees himself from this supposedly silent one, he sings his famous final monologue: "How beautiful the music is, but indeed only beautiful when it is already over ..."