To the page’s dismay, Narraboth will not stop talking about Princess Salome’s beauty. Two soldiers complain about the commotion in the palace. From a cistern below, the imprisoned prophet, Jokanaan, is heard prophesying about the Messiah.
Salome escapes from the dinner table and Tetrarch Herod’s lecherous looks. The tetrarch sends a slave to fetch her, but she will not go. Instead, she listens to the prophet, who has said terrible things about her mother. When she asks the soldiers to bring the prophet to her, they refuse – even the high priest is forbidden to see Jokanaan. But Salome persuades Narraboth to grant her wish.
Released, the prophet calls on Herodias to repent her incestuous marriage to Herod. The princess lusts for the prophet, but her praise of his features only earns repeated rebukes. Narraboth kills himself rather than listen to Salome begging Jokanaan for a kiss. The prophet advises the princess to seek out the Son of Man and beg his forgiveness for her sins. Declaring Salome accursed, Jokanaan returns to his cistern.
Herod and Herodias enter. The tetrarch slips in Narraboth’s blood; he hears the beating of wings. Herodias asks Herod not to look at Salome but he instead tries to tempt the princess with wine, fruit and an offer of her mother’s place on the throne. Salome refuses. When Jokanaan is again heard, Herodias asks why the prophet is allowed to live. She accuses Herod of being afraid. The Jews bicker about the prophet Elias. Two Nazarenes say that Jokanaan is right; the Messiah has come and is performing miracles, raising people from the dead. Over the objectives of Herodias, Herod persuades Salome to dance for him by promising her anything she desires. The tetrarch again hears the beating of the wings.
Salome dances the dance of the seven veils. As her reward, she claims the head of Jokanaan – on a silver shield. Herod offers her wealth and power instead, but she is adamant and he acquiesces. The prophet submits to his death in silence. The executioner returns with the severed head, which Salome kisses. She laments that her passion for the prophet will never be satisfied. Horrified, Herod has the soldiers crush Salome to death.