Salome was the second of Strauss‘s operas that I became acquainted with, after Rosenkavalier. One of the most musically brilliant passages in this revolutionary score is the scene of Salome awaiting the beheading of the object of affection. So when I learned that the opera had a very similar successor in Elektra, I was eager to see how Strauss would handle an almost identical situation.
Musically, this scene is one of my favorites in the opera. I'm fascinated at how Strauss so brilliantly differentiates the moods in the two operas. To depict Elektra's savage anticipation of the murder of her mother she’s so long awaited, Strauss transforms an instrumental motif associated with the act into an onomatopoeic reflection of her suspense, rushing around in the lower strings as she prowls before the door of the palace waiting for the act to be committed. It's a brilliant idea and invariably jolts the listener, as intended.