Ariadne auf Naxos

Festival Opera's Ariadne auf Naxos

Festival-opera-ariadne-2015* Notes *
My review of Festival Opera's Ariadne auf Naxos is on San Francisco Classical Voice.

* Tattling *
It did not seem appropriate to mention this in a review, but at this performance I realized that Richard Strauss' music really does make me feel a little queasy. I also got an inkling of why not everyone likes bird-like high voices, but only for a few seconds.

The English translation of the Prologue was amusing and I especially liked it when Zerbinetta says "Opera is easy if you just pay attention."

Bayerische Staatsoper's 2008-2009 Season

October 2 2008- July 24 2009: Macbeth
October 4-11 2008: Das Gehege / Salome
October 5 2008- July 13 2009: Norma
October 19-25 2008: Die Bassariden
October 23- November 2 2008: Eugene Onegin
November 1-6 2008: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
November 8 2008- May 21 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
November 10 2008- January 31 2009: Wozzeck
November 22 2008- March 27 2009: Tamerlano
November 24 2008- July 26 2009: Luisa Miller
November 28 2008- July 7 2009: Werther
December 9-14 2008: Doktor Faustus
December 13-18 2008: Hänsel und Gretel
December 17 2008- May 31 2009: La Bohème
December 21-28 2008: Die Zauberflöte
December 23 2008- June 15 2009: La Traviata
December 31 2008- February 24 2009: Die Fledermaus
January 4-10 2009: Carmen
January 19- July 14 2009: Palestrina
February 2-18 2009: Elektra
February 7- July 22 2009: Nabucco
February 20-26 2009: La Calisto
February 23- July 6 2009: Lucrezia Borgia
March 1- July 31 2009: Falstaff
March 14- July 30 2009: Otello
April 8- July 9 2009: Jenůfa
April 9-12 2009: Parsifal
April 26- May 2 2009: Così fan tutte
May 13-15 2009: Madama Butterfly
May 16-23 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro
June 8-30 2009: Aida
July 5-19 2009: Lohengrin
July 13-20 2009: Ariadne auf Naxos
June 14- July 30 2009: Idomeneo

Nicola Luisotti is conducting a new production of Macbeth next season at the Bavarian State Opera. Željko Lučić sings the title role, Nadja Michael sings Lady Macbeth, and Dimitri Pittas is Macduff. Anna Netrebko sings in the May performances of La Bohème, with Joseph Calleja as her Rodolfo. John Relyea sings Colline. Relyea is also singing the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, with Lucas Meachem as the Count. Angela Gheorghiu is Violetta Valéry in the June performances of La Traviata, singing opposite Jonas Kaufmann. Simon Keenlyside is Germont. Paolo Gavanelli sings the title role of Nabucco during the Münchner Opernfestspiele 2009. Earlier in the year he also sings Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.

New Productions for 2008-2009 | Official Site


AriadneseattleLast March I saw Seattle Opera's production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Dahlstrom's set was depressing, especially the prologue which looked like we were behind the scenes in the McCaw Hall itself. I hope Jane Eaglen has a nicer changing room though, not one marked by a blue circle and white icon that characterizes a women's bathroom sign. Director Chris Alexander wanted to update the opera to the present time, but I'm not sure that this made the opera any more accessible. The whole production lacked charm and warmth, even with the absurd fireworks ending. Jane Eaglen as the Prima Donna/Ariadne was impressive, but she does make everyone else sound bad in comparison.

Ich habe nichts mit dieser Welt gemein! Wozu leben in ihr?

Ariadne auf Naxos is an odd little opera with only one act, but has a prologue that lasts about 30 minutes. It is more or less an opera about opera, and is quite diverting. The juxtaposition of opera seria and opera buffa produced some entertaining effects as well. All together Ariadne pointedly shows the nature of opera to be collaborative. The prologue starts backstage, and the manner of the staging never let one forget that one was watching a performance. This quite reminded me of Bertolt Brecht's theory of drama, especially since I have been reading about his collaboration with Kurt Weill, particularly in the opera Mahagonny.

The staging was done very artfully, and was beautiful. The various pieces of the stage within a stage were nicely painted, and the cloud hung from ropes that Echo sang in was particularly amusing. The costumes were lavish but in subtle colors. The choreography came off very well, Laura Claycomb (Zerbinetta) moved in an especially delightful, lilting manner, and Deborah Voigt (Prima Donna/Ariadne) impressed me with her regal bearing, even turned away from the stage, the way she held her head and back was simply resplendent.

I do wish that they were better at moving the sets more quietly at the San Francisco Opera. It is an opera, sounds are of the utmost importance, one would think. During Bacchus' approach to Naxos, there was a switch of the stage such that the audience was backstage once again, and the clatter that ensued was most indelicate.

As for the singing, most everyone in the production was quite good. The mezzo-soprano Claudia Mahnke as the composer was surprisingly wonderful en travesti, she played the over-sensitive, melodramatic role well, and her voice was strong. Deborah Voigt is as accomplished as her reputation would have her. Tenor Thomas Moser is not as renowned as Voigt, but I found his voice well-paired with hers. Laura Claycomb, while quite charming, does not have a voice to vie with these others, it is thin, though pretty it was overwhelmed by the orchestra at times, especially in her higher range.

The somewhat sparse and talkative audience seemed far more moved by the text which they read as supertitles than the music. Unfortunate, since Strauss seems to have a good sense of humor. The music in the prologue was at times humorously overblown. I also quite enjoyed the overture to the opera proper, and by some magic the audience was silent for the whole of it. I believe this is because the curtain was intentionally pulled up as they had supernumeraries fuss around with the stage, perhaps to heighten the sense that the audience is watching an opera. This served to prepare the audience and they were all settled down by the time the music started. I believe I prefer Strauss to Puccini. I also like the audience members in standing room better than in the Grand Tier, as they were more respectful of the artists and the people around them.