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Ariadne auf Naxos

Music by Richard Strauss
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

University Opera Theatre • University Philharmonia Orchestra

Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

March 28-31, 2013



Synopsis courtesy Boosey & Hawkes

The Prologue - The richest man in Vienna has ordered a post-dinner entertainment for his guests. The Music Master complains that the new opera Ariadne auf Naxos is is to be followed by an Italian comedy, Zerbinetta and her Four Lovers. The Major Domo replies that his master has paid for what he wants. The young composer arrives, along with the two performing companies, and is made to feel distinctly unwanted. He is shocked to discover that Zerbinetta and the comedians are to perform after the premiere of his serious opera, and the Prima Donna objects to the rival female attraction. The Major Domo announces dinner has ended and that both opera and comedy must be played simultaneously so the fireworks can begin at 9 pm. The opera artists are horrified, but the comedians are happy to employ their improvisational skills. Zerbinetta is told the opera's plot and devises a synopsis for the combined entertainment. She charms the composer, he passionately agrees on the compromise, and the performance begins.


The Opera - Three nymphs sing of the sadness of Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus. Ariadne bemoans her fate and Zerbinetta, with the comedians in the wings, suggests Harlequin sings a cheerful song. Taking no notice Ariadne calls for Hermes, the messenger of death. The male comedians attempt to divert her, but Zerbinetta sends them off-stage and confides with Ariadne about the plight of all women at the hands of faithless men, while declaring women should be just as fickle in love. Ariadne retreats into her cave and the comedians' entertainment takes place with Harlequin winning Zerbinetta's affections. The three nymphs herald the arrival of Bacchus, who has escaped the lures of the sorceress Circe. Ariadne believes him to be Hermes and offers herself up to him. Zerbinetta, in the wings, repeats her prediction: 'a new god approaches and we surrender without a word', while Ariadne and Bacchus declare undying love.

Artistic Staff

Director Kay Walker Castaldo
Conductor Kamal Kahn
Scenic Designer Gary Decker
Costume Designer Christianne Myers
Lighting Designer Rob Murphy
Stage Manager Laura Beth Cohen



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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower