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Introduction

A rich patron’s whims force a high-brow opera and a low-brow comedy to be staged at the same time – to the consternation of their casts and the opera’s idealistic composer.

Background

Ariadne auf Naxos playfully combines two very different art forms: tragic opera and romantic farce. The result is a richly textured work that examines the role of art in society, and contrasts true love with cheerful promiscuity. Richard Strauss originally conceived Ariadne auf Naxos as part of a large-scale arrangement of Molière's play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. After initial performances in 1912, he abandoned the material from Molière and wrote a new operatic Prologue. The second version of Ariadne auf Naxos had its premiere in 1916.

Christof Loy’s eye-catching production draws on an eclectic range of styles, from 18th-century elegance to 1980s grunge, reflecting the richness of Strauss’s score. The opera is filled with passion and colour, from the intense lyricism of the Composer’s paean to music and the richly scored love duet for Ariadne and Bacchus, to Zerbinetta’s show-stopping aria ‘Großmächtige Prinzessin’. Other highlights include Ariadne’s lyrical arias and the robust, folk-like ensembles for Zerbinetta’s comedy troupe.

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