Opera by Richard Strauss
“Ariadne auf Naxos”,
opera in one act and prologue by Richard Strauss.
Libretto: Hugo von Hofmannsthal.
First performance: October 25, 1912, Stuttgart, Germany.
“Ariadne auf Naxos”
The entertaining and touching performance consists of PROLOGUE and OPERA.
THE PROLOGUE tells of the preparation of a celebration organized by the richest man in Vienna.
Two groups – musicians and comedians – have arrived for it. The opera musicians want to present the serious work “Ariadne of Naxos”. Things get confused and the comedians have to take part in the performance.
In the OPERA section we already see the “product” of the confusion. ARIADNE, abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos, mourns her fate, lost love and dreams of death.
The comedians arrive and try to cheer her up, but without much success. Their leader Zerbinetta decides that the only way Ariadne can forget her love is to fall in love again. So, a stranger is brought to the island, whom Ariadne initially thinks is a messenger of death. But soon the love between them proves that passion and love can always triumph over sadness. Especially when the new lover is not anyone but the god Bacchus…
The first opera by a young composer, “Ariadne on Naxos”, is to be performed in the castle of a Viennese aristocrat. The work is a tragedy with an ancient plot and that is why the host wants to show his guests something more fun – a farcical epilogue with the participation of the famous dancer Zerbinetta and her troupe. The young composer is desperate - the rough farce will reduce the effect of his work. In addition, the host has decided to present both stage works at the same time, and then there will be fireworks in the garden – so the theatre must be completed faster! Everyone is amazed by the decision of the aristocrat. The diva who is to play Ariadne, the Tenor who will play Bacchus' part, and the other singers are wondering what to do. The most upset is the young Composer, who realizes that his debut play is doomed to failure. But the charming and inventive Zerbinetta reassures everyone. She enchants the Composer, who immediately falls in love with her, and then decides to take matters into her own hands and lead the double performance.
Ariadne lies on the desert island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea. The beautiful daughter of the Cretan king Minos is abandoned by Theseus, whom she helped to kill the Minotaur monster and escape from her father's labyrinth. The nymphs Naiad, Dryad and Echo have put her to sleep with their gentle songs. But soon the unfortunate beauty wakes up to think of death, because without her beloved Theseus she does not see the meaning of life. Zerbinetta and her actors decide to comfort her with merry songs and dances. But Ariadne is so sad that she doesn't notice them. She summons Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to take her to the underworld. Zerbinetta wants to teach her how to deal with men. Ariadne does not want to listen to her.
The four comedians from the troupe – Brighella, Harlequin, Scaramuccio and Truffaldino – begin courting Zerbinetta. At this point, the nymphs announce the arrival of a ship on the island. The young god Bacchus comes, having escaped from the sorceress Circe. Ariadne decides that he is the god of death Hades. She falls into his arms, expecting to be taken to the underworld, and does not realize that she has been mistaken. After a while, a love spark ignites between Ariadne and Bacchus and the two are reborn for a new life. The cheerful and tireless Zerbinetta is relieved – men and women will not stop falling in love...