Ariadne auf Naxos

Synopsis

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.
Prologue

At the home of the richest man in Vienna, preparations for an evening of music are under way. Two troupes of musicians and singers have arrived. One is a burlesque group, led by the saucy comedienne Zerbinetta. The other is an opera company, who will present an opera seria, Ariadne auf Naxos, the work of the Composer. Members of the two companies quarrel over which performance should be presented first. However, the preparations are thrown into confusion by an announcement by the Major-domo. The dinner for the assembled guests has run longer than planned. Therefore both performances must take place at the same time as ordered and paid for. The performances must not run one minute later than scheduled, despite the late start, since at nine o'clock there will be fireworks in the garden.

At first, the impetuous young Composer refuses to discuss any changes to his opera. But his teacher, the Music Master, points out that his pay depends on accepting the situation, and counsels him to be prudent, and Zerbinetta turns the full force of her charm on him, so he drops his objections. The cast of the opera seria intrigue against each other, each demanding that his arias be not cut while the other performers' parts are cut instead. A dancing master introduces Zerbinetta into the plot, which she understands from her very own perspective, and she gets ready for the performance. The Composer realizes what he has assented to, plunges into despair and storms out.

Opera

Ariadne is shown abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos, with no company other than the nymphs Naiad, Dryad, and Echo. Ariadne bewails her fate, mourns her lost love, and longs for death. Zerbinetta and her four companions from the burlesque group enter and attempt to cheer Ariadne by singing and dancing, but without success. In a sustained and dazzling piece of coloratura singing, Zerbinetta tells the Princess to let bygones be bygones and insists that the simplest way to get over a broken heart is to find another man. In a comic interlude, each of the clowns pursues Zerbinetta. Eventually, she chooses Harlequin, a baritone, and the two sing a love duet together while the other clowns express frustration and envy.

The nymphs announce the arrival of a stranger on the island. Ariadne thinks it is Hermes, the messenger of death, but it is the god Bacchus, who is under the spell of the sorceress Circe. At first they do not understand their mistaken identification of each other. Bacchus eventually falls in love with Ariadne, who agrees to follow him to the realm of death to search for Theseus. Bacchus promises to set her in the heavens as a constellation. Zerbinetta returns briefly to repeat her philosophy of love: when a new love arrives, one has no choice but to yield. The opera ends with a passionate duet sung by Ariadne and Bacchus.

Music
    Richard Strauss
Libretto
    Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Director
    Christof Loy
Designer
    Herbert Murauer
Lighting
    Jennifer Tipton
Choreography
    Beate Vollack

Program and cast

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February 2019

Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera is a company based in central London, resident at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Along with the English National Opera, it is one of the two principal opera companies in London. Founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, it was known by that title until 1968. It brought a long annual season and consistent management to a house that had previously hosted short seasons under a series of impresarios. Since its inception, it has shared the Royal Opera House with the dance company now known as The Royal Ballet.
 

When the company was formed, its policy was to perform all works in English, but since the late 1950s most operas have been given in the original language. From the outset, performers have comprised a mixture of British and Commonwealth singers and international guest stars, but fostering the careers of singers from within the company was a consistent policy of the early years. Among the many guest performers have been Maria Callas, Plácido Domingo, Kirsten Flagstad, Hans Hotter, Birgit Nilsson, Luciano Pavarotti and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Among those who have risen to international prominence from the ranks of the company are Geraint Evans, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jon Vickers.
 

The company's growth under the management of David Webster from modest beginnings to parity with the world's greatest opera houses was recognised by the grant of the title "The Royal Opera" in 1968. Under Webster's successor, John Tooley, appointed in 1970, The Royal Opera prospered, but after his retirement in 1988, there followed a period of instability and the closure of the Royal Opera House for rebuilding and restoration between 1997 and 1999. The 21st century has seen a stable managerial regime once more in place. The company has had six music directors since its inception: Karl Rankl, Rafael Kubelík, Georg Solti, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink and Antonio Pappano.

Transport

Underground
Covent Garden tube station on the Piccadilly Line.
Visit the Transport for London website to plan your journey.

Buses
1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 26, 68, 76, 77a, 91, 168, 171, 176, 188, 501 (southbound only), 505, 521, X68 all go to the Aldwych, which is close to the Theatre.


Parking
There is no designated parking at the Royal Opera House for ticket holders. The nearest NCP car parks are five minutes’ walk away at Drury Lane and Shelton Street. There is a drop-off point outside the Bow Street entrance. A limited number of orange badge bays are available in the vicinity, but are not reserved for the use of Royal Opera House patrons.

 

Entrances

    The New Arcade in the corner of Covent Garden Piazza.
    Bow Street at the right-hand end of the main entrance portico (close to the lifts to the Amphitheatre).
    Bow Street immediately to the left of the Paul Hamlyn Hall (close to the Box Office and Information Desk).

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