Ariadne auf Naxos at the Seattle Opera


Ariadne auf Naxosseattlelogo

By Richard Strauss

May 2 – 16, 2015

THE SHOWS MUST GO ON! A wealthy patron has commissioned two pieces of entertainment for a private dinner party: an opera based on the myth of Ariadne in exile, and a capering troupe of clowns for comic relief. The catch: the two acts must perform simultaneously so a fabulous pyrotechnics display can conclude the evening as promised. Our acclaimed production delivers a deliciously theatrical mix of lowbrow comedy and high art, offering surprises and delights at every turn.
In German with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 35minutes with 1 intermission


Prima Donna/Ariadne
Christiane Libor
Marcy Stonikas *
Sarah Coburn
Haeran Hong † *
The Composer
Kate Lindsey
Sarah Larsen *
Issachah Savage
Jeffrey Hartman † *
Andrew Garland
Music Teacher/Truffaldino
Patrick Carfizzi
Dancing Master
Doug Jones
Joshua Kohl
Eric Neuville
Amanda Opuszynski
Maya Lahyani
Andrea Carroll
Georg Martin Bode
Butler’s Assistant
Barry Johnson
Karl Marx Reyes
Jon Farmer
Lawrence Renes
Stage Director
Chris Alexander
Set Designer
Robert Dahlstrom
Costume Designer
Cynthia Savage
Lighting Designer
Robert Wierzel
Hair and Makeup Designer
Joyce Degenfelder
English Captions
Jonathan Dean
Sets and Costumes
Seattle Opera 

† Seattle Opera debut
* On May 3 and 15 only
Sarah Coburn, Andrew Garland, Maya Lahyani, Sarah Larsen, Eric Neuville, Amanda Opuszynski, and Marcy Stonikas are former Seattle Opera Young Artists.


Long Story Short
Tonight we attempt to answer the age-old question: what happens when comedy and tragedy are forced to share the same stage?

Who’s Who?
The Composer is an idealistic, impatient, emotional young genius who deplores the frivolity and vulgarity of the world. Since he is very young, he is played by a woman.
The Music Master, his teacher, is older, wiser, and much more practical.
The Butler is a pompous sycophant who couldn’t care less about art or music. Because he’s supposed to be tone-deaf, he is played by an actor.
The Dancing Master is a sly producer of silly Italian comedies.
Zerbinetta is a sexy, flirtatious young actress who stars in the Dancing Master’s shows.
The Soprano is an obnoxious prima donna who plays Ariadne, an ancient Greek princess whose lover abandoned her, in the Composer’s opera.
The Tenor is a quick-tempered clod who plays Bacchus, the god of wine, in the Composer’s opera.
Harlequin is a likeable, lovesick young clown.
The Nymphs are Ariadne’s only companions in her exile upon Naxos; they are Naiad, a water spirit, Dryad, a forest spirit, and Echo, a…well, an echo.
The Comics perform with Zerbinetta and Harlekin; their names are Brighella, Scaramuccio, and Truffaldino.

Where and When?
The Prologue to this opera within an opera takes place in an art-lover’s mansion. The opera itself takes place on (a stage representing) the island of Naxos, from Greek myth.

What’s Going On?
The wealthiest man in town, eager to dazzle his friends and neighbors and show off his vast wealth, is having a party. The invitation promised a glorious feast, the premiere of a serious opera on the Greek myth of Ariadne (written by the hotshot young composer the entire city is talking about), and a hilarious skit about “Fickle Zerbinetta and Her Four Lovers.” But the real climax of the evening—according to the Butler, at least—will be fireworks, in the garden at dusk!

No one dared tell the Composer that the antics of a troupe of Italian clowns would follow the unveiling of his masterpiece, and when he finds out he is livid. But matters grow worse as the dinner drags on, and the Butler announces that, in order to make up the time, the comedians and tragedians must combine their shows; they are both to appear on the same stage at the same time, and must perform ALL their music and text if they hope to be paid. Upon hearing this, the Composer is ready to kill himself, or at least to walk away forever from the rich cretin who could so desecrate his sacred art. Zerbinetta, however, saves the day (and her paycheck) by flirting with the Composer and seducing him into staying.

The resulting mish-mash of a performance veers back and forth between comedy and tragedy. Ariadne, who has been abandoned on an island by her faithless lover, Theseus, longs for death; Zerbinetta and her friends, who evidently inhabit this deserted island, attempt to cheer her up. But she is inconsolable—at least until the young god Bacchus stops by. Bacchus and Ariadne slowly discover each other’s identity; they fall in love, and the magic of their love transforms them both. As they sing the conclusion of their opera, the same thing happens—in real life—to Zerbinetta and the Composer

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