Richard Strauss, already known for his wonderful orchestral tone-poems, turned his genius to opera at the turn of the twentieth century, and this guide contains the texts and introductions to his first two masterpieces in what was, for him, a new genre. Despite obvious similarities - both operas consisting of one act, centred upon one female title role - the works are quite different in subject and treatment, as revealed by the introductory essays. Salome, based on Oscar Wilde's notorious play, has a kaleidoscopic range of orchestral colour and a lurid climax in 'The Dance of the Seven Veils' - an episode which has challenged generations of sopranos to dance as well as sing. Elektra, derived from the myths and tragedies of the ancient Greeks, is the first of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's many collaborations with Strauss. It is also a study in neurosis, ripe for Jungian comparative analysis.