Ariadne on Naxos (concert version)
Pictures / Videos
Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949) / Philharmonie
Concert Version, at the Berliner Philharmonie
Opera in one act with prelude; Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal; Premiere of 1st version: Stuttgart, 25th October 1912; Premiere of 2nd version: Vienna, 4th October 1916
In German with German surtitels
|music teacher||Markus Brück|
|dancing master||Thomas Blondelle|
|Orchestra||Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin|
In the wake of ELEKTRA and DER ROSENKAVALIER Richard Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal were on the lookout for a challenge of a different kind. Max Reinhardt, who had been a key influence in the production process of the two aforementioned works, provided the welcome stimulus: he floated the idea of presenting Moličre’s „Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme“ along with a musical afterword, as had been the practice at the court of the Sun King Louis XIV. In the end the pair produced two divertissements, the one-act chamber opera ARIADNE ON NAXOS having fallen short of first-night expectations as the ideal epilogue to Moličre’s comedy. Not only was the evening far too long; the task of fusing a full-blown play and a fully-fledged opera production into a single evening’s entertainment was also far too complex. Strauss and Hofmannsthal therefore set about creating a prologue to ARIADNE that was unrelated to Moličre’s play and changed the setting of the opera to the Vienna of Maria Theresa. Strauss then composed a piece of music for the stage to satisfy Reinhardt, a work of musical pantomime as a coda to the comedy which had no connection to the classical storyline but developed on the musical material of ARIADNE ON NAXOS.
From the outset the idea had been to fuse comedy and tragedy, and the prologue now provides a new reason for doing so – it’s what the rich patron wants. That is the announcement of the major-domo, the only speaking part left in the opera. And that gives von Hofmannsthal’s imaginary nameless composer ample opportunity to rebel – and fall in love with the leading comedienne, Zerbinetta, who is already on stage, although the composer had expected to find his prima donna and the tenor there. His protest evaporates, making way for the telling of the classic tale of Ariadne, who yearns for death and in the process finds a new suitor. In an interlude the clowns muscle in on the action.