1415 14th Ave. NW
Ariadne auf Naxos
CONDUCTED BY GORDON GERRARD
DIRECTED BY LAURENCE DALE
Visually and musically stunning, this new European design of Ariadne auf Naxos is a feast for the senses.
At a dinner party given by the richest man in the country, two rival performing troupes – one, a serious opera company, the other, a group of burlesque performers – are forced to create a mash-up of their polar-opposite productions when the dinner runs late – with hilarious results.
Featuring eye-popping, larger-than-life set and costume designs by Gary McCann, this production dazzles on every front.
Run Time: 2 hours and 35 minutes (including 1 intermission)
Performed in German with English titles.
Ariadne auf Naxos is in two parts, called the Prologue and the Opera. The first part shows the backstage circumstances leading up to the second part, which is in fact an opera within an opera.
Vienna, 18th century. In the house of a rich man, preparations are in progress for the performance of a new opera, “Ariadne auf Naxos.” The major-domo enters to inform the music master that immediately after an Italian comedy will be performed, followed by a firework display in the garden. The outraged music master replies that the composer will never tolerate that. When the composer appears, hoping for a last-minute rehearsal, a servant tells him that the musicians are still playing dinner music. Suddenly the tenor rushes from his dressing room, arguing with the wigmaker. The prima donna furiously comments on the presence of the comedy troupe and their leading lady, Zerbinetta. The major-domo returns and announces: for the fireworks to begin on time, the opera and the comedy are to be performed simultaneously. General annoyance soon gives way to practical reactions. Meanwhile, Zerbinetta gives her troupe a briefing on the opera’s plot. Ariadne, they are told, has been abandoned by her lover Theseus on the island of Naxos, where she now waits for death. Zerbinetta, however, claims that all Ariadne really needs is a new lover. When the composer disagrees, Zerbinetta begins to flirt with him. Suddenly the man finds new hope. Filled with love and enthusiasm for his work, he declares music the greatest of all the arts.
The Ariadne myth tells how Prince Theseus set out for Crete to kill the Minotaur who was concealed in a labyrinth. Princess Ariadne of Crete fell in love with Theseus and gave him a ball of thread that enabled him to find his way out of the labyrinth after he had killed the Minotaur. When Theseus left Crete, he took Ariadne with him as his bride. During their voyage home they stopped at the island of Naxos. While Ariadne was asleep, Theseus slipped away and continued his journey without her. The opera Ariadne auf Naxos begins at this point.
Ariadne is alone at her cave. Watching from the wings, the comedians are doubtful if they will be able to cheer her up. Ariadne recalls her love for Theseus. Harlequin tries to divert her with a song but Ariadne ignores him, she resolves to await Hermes, messenger of death. When the comedians’ efforts continue to fail, Zerbinetta finally addresses Ariadne directly, explaining to her the human need to change an old love for a new. Insulted, Ariadne leaves. After Zerbinetta has finished her speech, her colleagues leap back onto the scene, competing for her attention.
The nymphs announce the approach of a ship: it carries the god Bacchus. When he appears, she at first mistakes him for Theseus come back to her. Entranced by her, Bacchus tells her he would sooner see the stars vanish than give her up. Reconciled to a new existence, Ariadne joins Bacchus as they ascend to the heavens.