A rare chance to see Simone Young and a Richard Strauss opera:
Lisa Gasteen National Opera School’s
Ariadne auf Naxos
3.00 pm Sunday 9 December and 7.30 pm 11 December 2018
at Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, South Bank
Ensemble Q Orchestra conducted by Simone Young AM, directed by Heather Fairbairn.
Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera about opera. Strauss wrote 90 minutes of scrumptiously lush music. The poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal provided a libretto that divides the performance into a Prologue then an opera about the Greek goddess Ariadne.
The Prologue is opera buffo that presents the comic backstage psychological game play of those preparing to entertain a nouveau riche, quixotic Viennese patron. Comedia dell’arte players collide with the opera’s composer and singers arguing against their patron’s command for the players and the opera seria, titled Ariadne auf Naxos, to be superimposed so his fireworks can start punctually at 9pm.
Strauss uses that artifice to contrast the perky, kindly Zerbinetta and her cheerful troop with the grander, melancholic Ariadne whom Theseus has abandoned on the island of Naxos. She will soon be revitalised by Bacchus who discovers his godlike status in the process.
It is an opera to be enjoyed on many levels, especially glorious musical styles and the witty plot. But the opera, which was created in the pre-World War I Vienna of Freud and Art Nouveau, comments on society, how daily life and artifice mirror each other and how they are put before the audience.