20. June 2015

Ariadne auf Naxos

Opera by Richard Strauss

    2:40 h | including 1 interval
    Introductory matinee on 07 JUN 2015

    Pre-performance lecture, 45 minutes prior to each performance (in German)
    • Synopsis

      At the home of the “richest man in Vienna”, the performance of the opera seria Ariadne auf Naxos is being prepared. It is announced that a burlesque performance was to follow the opera, performed by Zerbinetta and her four partners Harlequin, Brighella, Scaramuccio, and Truffaldin. The composer of the opera feels his honor as an artist insulted, but his music teacher warns him to accept the whims of his patron at the risk of sacrificing his fee. Just before the beginning of the performance, the major-domo announces the latest wishes of his master: the opera seria and opera buffa should be performed at the same time, and the entire piece should only last an hour, to allow the fireworks for the guests to begin on time. The composer would rather see his piece destroyed, the music teacher suggests cuts to save it, the dancing master appeals to the actors’ arts of improvisation. The composer reluctantly agrees. A fascinating encounter with Zerbinetta makes the composer see everything with new eyes and swears allegiance to “the holy art of music”.

      The nymphs Naiad, Driade, and Echo take pity on Ariadne, who was left by her formerly loved Theseus on the deserted island of Naxos. Ariadne, in lifeless torpidity, endlessly bewails the hopelessness of her existence and longingly awaits Hermes, the messenger of death. Zerbinetta and her fellow players try to cheer Ariadne and to convince her of the power of forgetting and transformation. They instruct her in the playful arts of love: love has countless faces. But Ariadne refuses to be convinced. She insists on her fixation.
      Finally, a god is called to the rescue, Bacchus. Ariadne’s encounter with Bacchus unravels as an inexorable series of deceptions. Bacchus believes he recognizes Circe, from whom he has just escaped, while Ariadne thinks at first he is Theseus, then considers him the messenger of death Hermes. Listening to his song, Ariadne finds herself drawn into the darkness of the god Bacchus. Led by his singing, she is able to enter the longed for realm of death. Then the words of the composer are fulfilled, “She thinks she is dying. No, she is dying.”