Ariadne auf Naxos

Investec Opera Holland Park 2018

 

Richard Strauss’s first opera to be performed at Investec Opera Holland Park. Learn more about the music, cast and crew behind this Out of the Ordinary opera.

Watch the trailer for Ariadne auf Naxos

 

Exclusive footage from the Investec Opera Holland Park 2018 season prelude and interviews from baritone Alex Otterburn and director of opera James Clutton.

Exclusive footage from the Investec Opera Holland Park 2018 season prelude and interviews from baritone Alex Otterburn and director of opera James Clutton.

 

We talked to James Clutton, director of opera at Opera Holland Park, about their first Strauss production.

We had been talking to Scottish Opera about potential co-productions for a while before all the cards fell into place. OHP’s history of reviving rare operas from the giovane scuola composers has primed us for an excursion across the Alps into the German repertoire that inspired that generation of musicians. Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera about art, show business and entertainment, so it is the perfect choice for our first Strauss production, and the opportunity to work with the director-designer Antony McDonald was too good to resist. 
 
When this show had its Scottish premiere in March, the audience in Glasgow saw a detailed facsimile of Holland House on stage. Now we’re bringing Ariadne home. After Jennifer France’s success as Controller (Flight) and Adele (Die Fledermaus) at OHP, we knew she would make an ideal Zerbinetta. First seen at OHP as Gilda (Rigoletto), Julia Sporsén was an electrifying Katya Kabanová for us last year, and will be singing the trouser role of the Composer - again with a twist.   

Julia Sporsén as The Composer and Stephen Gadd as The Professor of Composition in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Laura Zigmantaite as Dryad, Mardi Byers as The Prima Donna/Ariadne, Elizabeth Cragg as Naiad and Lucy Hall as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

The cast of Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Elgan Llŷr Thomas as Brighella, Alex Otterburn as Harlequin, Daniel Norman as Scaramuccio and Lancelot Nomura as Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos

Jennifer France as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Julia Sporsén as The Composer and Stephen Gadd as The Professor of Composition in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Photo credits: Opera Holland Park/ Ali Wright

Laura Zigmantaite as Dryad, Mardi Byers as The Prima Donna/Ariadne, Elizabeth Cragg as Naiad and Lucy Hall as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Photo credits: Opera Holland Park/ Robert Workman

The cast of Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Photo credits: Opera Holland Park/ Robert Workman

Elgan Llŷr Thomas as Brighella, Alex Otterburn as Harlequin, Daniel Norman as Scaramuccio and Lancelot Nomura as Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos

Photo credits: Opera Holland Park/ Robert Workman

Jennifer France as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Holland Park

Photo credits: Opera Holland Park/ Ali Wright

Ariadne auf Naxos, by Richard Strauss

  • Prologue

    The house of the ‘richest man in Vienna’. This Maecenas has ordered two performances to entertain his boozed-up guests between dinner and fireworks: firstly, a gloomy 18th-century-style opera seria on the subject of Ariadne abandoned by Theseus on the Mediterranean island of Naxos, and, secondly, a sex-comedy vaudeville performed ad lib by an impro troupe.
     
    As the distraught Composer faffs about finishing off his (or her*) opera, Zerbinetta supplements her income with an officer in her dressing room and the other performers go about their backstage business. Then the Major-domo announces a pivotal change of plan: owing to time constraints, the two pieces will now be performed simultaneously. Shock horror!
     
    The Composer has a meltdown but starts making cuts in the opera. S/he tries to explain to Zerbinetta the difference between a trollop like her and a woman like Ariadne, faithful to one man till death. Yeah, right, says Zerbinetta, and then the Composer falls in love with her. Zerbinetta briefs her troupe, and it’s showtime.
    Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park
  • The opera

    Ariadne misses the rat Theseus who dumped her on Naxos and longs for death. A couple of mythological creatures share her pain. Up pops Zerbinetta and her gang, who try to cheer Ariadne up, without success. Zerbinetta tells Ariadne fidelity is a drag, recites a catalogue of her lovers, and tries to explain the difference between men and gods, also without success; she gives up and cops off with Harlequin.
     
    Now who should turn up but young wine-demigod Bacchus, fresh (and smarting) from a brush with hot witch Circe, whose party trick is turning men into pigs. Ariadne takes him for the messenger of death – easy mistake to make. This get-out clause allows her to succumb to him despite her vows of fidelity to death. They head off into a cave together. Zerbinetta pops up again and says: ‘See? Told ya!’
    Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park
  • Fancy that!

    The first version of Ariadne in 1912 combined an entire play by Molière with the opera and lasted over six hours. Don’t panic! The second version, which Investec Opera Holland Park is performing, is a lot shorter.
     
    * The Composer is written as a male role sung by a woman, but performed at Investec Opera Holland Park as a female role.

    Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park

Ariadne auf Naxos, by Richard Strauss

Prologue
The opera
Fancy that!

Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park
The house of the ‘richest man in Vienna’. This Maecenas has ordered two performances to entertain his boozed-up guests between dinner and fireworks: firstly, a gloomy 18th-century-style opera seria on the subject of Ariadne abandoned by Theseus on the Mediterranean island of Naxos, and, secondly, a sex-comedy vaudeville performed ad lib by an impro troupe.
 
As the distraught Composer faffs about finishing off his (or her*) opera, Zerbinetta supplements her income with an officer in her dressing room and the other performers go about their backstage business. Then the Major-domo announces a pivotal change of plan: owing to time constraints, the two pieces will now be performed simultaneously. Shock horror!
 
The Composer has a meltdown but starts making cuts in the opera. S/he tries to explain to Zerbinetta the difference between a trollop like her and a woman like Ariadne, faithful to one man till death. Yeah, right, says Zerbinetta, and then the Composer falls in love with her. Zerbinetta briefs her troupe, and it’s showtime.

Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park
Ariadne misses the rat Theseus who dumped her on Naxos and longs for death. A couple of mythological creatures share her pain. Up pops Zerbinetta and her gang, who try to cheer Ariadne up, without success. Zerbinetta tells Ariadne fidelity is a drag, recites a catalogue of her lovers, and tries to explain the difference between men and gods, also without success; she gives up and cops off with Harlequin.
 
Now who should turn up but young wine-demigod Bacchus, fresh (and smarting) from a brush with hot witch Circe, whose party trick is turning men into pigs. Ariadne takes him for the messenger of death – easy mistake to make. This get-out clause allows her to succumb to him despite her vows of fidelity to death. They head off into a cave together. Zerbinetta pops up again and says: ‘See? Told ya!’

Ariadne auf Naxos - Investec Opera Holland Park
The first version of Ariadne in 1912 combined an entire play by Molière with the opera and lasted over six hours. Don’t panic! The second version, which Investec Opera Holland Park is performing, is a lot shorter.
 
* The Composer is written as a male role sung by a woman, but performed at Investec Opera Holland Park as a female role.

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