Ariadne auf Naxos is one of Richard Strauss' most playful and lighthearted operas, but the plot may seem a little confusing at first on paper. Think of it as a backstage drama: in the first half, we see a collection of singers, actors, comedians, and a composer trying to hammer out the details of the show they're going to put on. In the second half, of course, we see the show!
The main twist: the performance they're putting on was originally going to have both a dramatic section (the mythological story of Ariadne abandoned on the island of Naxos) and a comedic section (a troupe of clowns in the commedia dell'arte style), but due to a change in plans, there's only enough time for one of them. The initially absurd, but eventually ingenious solution? Work the clowns into the Greek story!
Here's a video of our Ariadne, the phenomenal Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, singing the opera's gorgeous diva showpiece aria in a 2002 production from the Gran Teatre de Liceu in Barcelona. This aria, titled Es gibt ein Reich, is from the play-within-a-play, and expresses the mythological Ariadne's sadness at having been abandoned by Theseus, her lover.
Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001