Ariadne auf Naxos
Opera in a prologue and one act
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Just before a young composer’s new opera is about to be premiered, he learns that the wealthy but philistine patron who commissioned the piece wishes to make some last-minute changes. His heroic opera about Ariadne, tormented by lost love and yearning for death, must be performed at the same time as a piece by a burlesque troupe. In line with the patron’s wishes (and against the composer’s will), the carefree Zerbinetta and her suitors are inserted into the Ariadne opera. The result, as Richard Strauss’s librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal described it, is a »juxtaposition between the woman who only loves once and the one who gives herself many times«. Through the archetypal opera characters, a confrontation is staged between two different models of love and life that is sometimes humorous and playful, sometimes serious. The work also reflects on artistic questions such as the coexistence of comedic and dramatic elements in opera, and transports the audience into the turbulent events behind the scenes of a fictional opera premiere.