Ariadne auf Naxos
Strauss, R.

Opera in prologue and one act

Two in one - this well-known slogan can also describe an opera that was the fruit of so many debates and revisions by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. A magnificent opera seria with a mythological subject and the playful humour of the commedia dellarte are juxtaposed in this work of art when the invisible host of a social gathering in Vienna, which serves as the frame of the plot, decides to save time and entertain the guests with the simultaneous performance of the two pieces he ordered for the evening. There is the desperate young composer, the whimsical prima donna and the similarly capricious tenor, a majestically straightforward Major-Domo and a whole troupe of comedians in the prologue, and the two genres are merged in a wonderful and yet strange way in the festive performance. Ariade, who has been abandoned maliciously and even marooned on the island of Naxos, and the god Bacchus meet and fall in love amidst the playful intermezzos and interjections of the comedians. The most important of their comments reflecting their positive attitude to life is sung by the favourite of the joyful company, Zerbinetta, to the despairing Cretan princess famous for her string: her long and comforting solo is one of the most difficult coloratura arias of operatic literature. Strausss opera, which is excellent in every detail and, at the same time, rewarding, now returns to the stage of the Opera after four decades.