Opera in one act with a prologue
by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
In German with surtitles
Duration: approx. 2 ¼ hours, no interval
For all from 14 upwards
No other opera tells us as much about the nature of musical theatre as Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss’ (1864–1949) ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’. This chamber opera was originally conceived as an interlude for Hofmannsthal’s adaptation of Molière’s comedy ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’ and received its world premiere in this form on 25th October 1912 at the opening of the Stuttgart Hoftheater. As this version found little success with either the public or the critics, the authors continued adapting their work for a number of years and the current version as an “opera in one act with prologue” was first performed on 4th October 1916 at the Hofoper in Vienna. It was in this version that ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ ultimately found its way into the repertoire of all the major opera houses.
In the prologue Hofmannsthal and Strauss precisely portray the situation of the artist exposed to the market forces: in order to satisfy the arbitrary taste of his rich sovereign, the composer is forced to insert improvised scenes from a Commedia dell’arte troupe into his opera ‘Ariadne’. Here art is only worth as much as he who subsidizes it is willing to pay - and he is only going to pay if he likes it. As the opera ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ is then performed as a play within a play, comedy and tragedy, myth and irony all blur into each other.
“Appearance and reality, stage and audience merge seamlessly into each other; this propels the observer into an imagined space and turns him inevitably into an active participant in this great theatre of the world, where life is a game and the game is life. In its playful virtuosity, in its unfathomable delicacy, abandoning anything doctrinaire and at the same time with a richness of movement and gesture derived from the music, this production is rightfully hailed as a brilliant example of contemporary opera direction.” This was how Markus Schwering greeted the Düsseldorf premiere of Dietrich W. Hilsdorf’s debut Strauss production in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
MUSIKALISCHE LEITUNG Wen-Pin Chien / Axel Kober
INSZENIERUNG Dietrich W. Hilsdorf
BÜHNE Dieter Richter
KOSTÜME Renate Schmitzer
LICHT Volker Weinhart
DRAMATURGIE Bernhard F. Loges
SPIELLEITUNG Esther Mertel