Richard Strauss

Ariadne auf Naxos

18 May - 11 July 2013
Festival 2013

Watch Ariadne online

The 2013 Festival opens with a new production of this compelling and intricately crafted collaboration between composer Richard Strauss and writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal. After the enormous success of Der Rosenkavalier, the two men conceived the idea of a light entertainment, a small trifle to amuse and divert the public. 

It soon became altogether more complex, subtle and ambitious, ‘something unusual and important’ as von Hofmannsthal put it, with ‘music as enchanting in the memory as anything could be; like fireworks in a beautiful park, one enchanted, all too fleeting, summer night’.

The kernel of the story is a clash between two different types of dramatic performance, as represented by a troupe of comic artists led by the irrepressible Zerbinetta, and the high seriousness of the classical myth of Ariadne; roles sung by Laura Claycomb and Soile Isokoski, both making their Glyndebourne debuts.

In Vladimir Jurowski’s final season as Music Director he will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in his first fully-staged Strauss opera, working with the German director Katharina Thoma, making her UK debut. 

Listen to our Ariadne auf Naxos podcast 

Download this episode (right click and save)

Musical extracts used with kind permission of EMI Classics.

Live broadcast to cinemas and online on 4 June 2013, venues and booking details are on the 'In Cinemas' tab.

A new production for the 2013 Festival
Sung in German with English supertitles

This new production is supported by a Syndicate of Donors led by Hamish and Sophie Forsyth

By kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd

Main Content: 

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Part one - The Prologue


Part two - The Opera

See our whole 2013 season at cinemas and online

The filming of Glyndebourne’s Ariadne auf Naxos is made possible by support from our New Generation Programme donors

The Prologue

At a sumptuous home, two theatre troupes are preparing for their performances: a commedia dell’arte group, led by the comedienne Zerbinetta, and an opera company presenting a serious opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. The Major-domo announces that, to save time, both entertainments must be performed simultaneously.

The idealistic young Composer is loath to permit any changes to his opera. But when his teacher, the Music Master, points out that his pay depends on accepting the situation, and when Zerbinetta turns her charms upon him, he complies. When he fully realises to what he has agreed, he storms out.


The Opera

Ariadne, who has been abandoned by Theseus, laments her lost love and yearns for death. Zerbinetta and her four companions from the commedia dell’arte troupe attempt to cheer Ariadne by singing and dancing, but without success. Zerbinetta insists that the best way to cure a broken heart is to find another love. Each of the four commedia men pursues Zerbinetta.

Naiad, Dryad and Echo announce the arrival of a stranger. Ariadne assumes it is the messenger of death, but in fact it is Bacchus, who falls instantly in love with Ariadne. As Ariadne and Bacchus celebrate their love, Zerbinetta claims that she was right all along. 

Creative Team

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Director Katharina Thoma
Set Designer Julia Müer
Costume Designer Irina Bartels
Lighting Designer Olaf Winter
Movement Director Lucy Burge


Music Master Thomas Allen
Ariadne Soile Isokoski
Composer Kate Lindsey
Zerbinetta Laura Claycomb
Ulyana Aleksyuk (28 June; 5, 11 July)
Harlequin Dmitri Vargin
Scaramuccio James Kryshak
Truffaldino Torben Jürgens
Brighella Andrew Stenson
Bacchus Sergey Skorokhodov
Dancing Master Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke
Guy de Mey (13, 20, 23 June)
Naiad Ana Maria Labin
Dryad Adriana Di Paola
Echo Gabriela Iştoc
The Major-Domo William Relton
Lackey Frederick Long
Wigmaker Michael Wallace
Officer Stuart Jackson

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Laura Claycomb and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
The commedia troupe in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Soile Isokoski and Thomas Allen in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke and Thomas Allen in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
William Relton in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Kate Lindsey in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Soile Isokoski and Thomas Allen in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Kate Lindsey and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Ariadne auf Naxos
Kate Lindsey in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Kate Lindsey in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Laura Claycomb  in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair MuirLaura Claycomb  in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Ph
Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Soile Isokoski and Sergey Skorokhodov in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Soile Isokoski and Sergey Skorokhodov in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir
Soile Isokoski and Sergey Skorokhodov in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir

"In 40 years of watching Ariadne, the opera has never moved me more."

Rated 4* by Daily Mail.

"...the production captures the fragility of happiness and the undertow of melancholy better than any I can remember.” 
Rated 4* by London Evening Standard.

"...always pleasing and sometimes ravishing to behold.” 
Rated 4* by Musical Criticism.

Rated 4* by MusicOMH.

Read an interview with director, Katharina Thoma, on the Guardian website.


Rather mixed feelings, we are afraid. The production was not invalid as a reinterpretation of the original, but less than inspiring and rather clumsy. Casting could surely have been better, and singing was often less than good, failing to rise to the wonderful music of Strauss. Orchestra excellent.

Two evenings later we saw a performance of another opera, superlatively done in every respect, at another country house venue, which only served to reinforce our feelings above. Please, Glyndebourne, you can do far better!

My wife and I have been coming to Glyndebourne since we met there in 1966, and every year since 1969. We have enjoyed the productions to a greater or lesser extent, but always enjoyed them. However, this year's experience, in the unanimous views of our party, was the exception. Yes, the orchestra played beautifully and the singing was fine. But what a truly absurd production, which made a total nonsense of the text. It constantly diverted one's attention (especially the nurses!), also because the supertext translations were so clearly manipulated to make it all seem OK. I frankly cannot understand how the different layers of direction/management could have allowed this to happen. I can only hope this will be a one-time exception, and that in future such a distortion of an opera's central idea will not be allowed to happen again.

Having seen staged versions of 179 different operas in nearly 300 different productions I think this production of Ariadne auf Naxos takes us well into the realms of "regietheater". Fortunately the weather on Friday was fine, the musical side good, the prologue of Ariadne OKish but the second half!!!
Of current British directors David McVicar almost invariaby manages to bring it off: Mastersingers; Guilio Caesare; Macbeth at Glyndebourne; Medee at ENO. Peter Sears with Theodora at Gyndebourne, Nichoas Hytner with most things and similarly David Pountney can all pull off this type of production. They do so by being true to the opera itself. Each opera has a story to tell and good directors can tell it in a variety of ways. Perhaps I don't understand the story that Ariadne tells but I certainly find my understanding quite at odds with the director this time.
I think this was not quite the production I have felt most at odds with (that honour goes to the recent Rusalka at ROH)but it came close to it. I hope you will continue to provide us with productions that challenge us and don't just leave us in our comfort zone.
I could continue at greater length and in more detail but as a fairly regular member of the audience I hope it is useful to say something is bad when I feel it is as well as stirring myself to say something is good when I find that is the case.

All went well until the bombers flew over, but then it all just became hugely irritating. The 'burlesque' parts in Act 2 were cringingly unfunny.
I managed to regain some of the magic of this wonderful opera in the last scene, the one between Ariadne and Bacchus, but I am afraid that by then my husband had really lost patience and ended the evening sunk in gloom.
A pity, because Ariadne is not done that often, so it felt like an opportunity missed.
Back to see further productions in August, and we are sure all will be back to normal.

I agree with Richard Turner on 3 June. Great musically (Thomas Allen, as always, world class) but otherwise a travesty of one of my favourite operas. Cannot Glyndebourne intervene, when a production is going seriously off the rails ? If not, it will continue to take great risks with its audience and its reputation, especially with any opening production, which sets the mood for the season.

Agree with all the negative comments about the production. The second act had nothing to do with the original conception of the opera, and just typical of trendy directors who think their conception superior to those of the composer. In spite of some criticisms of the musical production, we thought it excellent, Strauss's glorious music came across vividly, excellent performances from the singers esp Zerbinetta.

FABULOUS singing!

Wonderful singing spoilt for me by the all-too-common directorial indulgences. Why do she feel it necessary to invent her own "concept", particularly when it added nothing to Hofmannsthal's own. Please spare us these German philistines. Incidentally, I lost my car and house keys on the night and they have yet to be discovered.Thank goodness I live only 45 minutes from Glyndebourne. I had to take a taxi home and return for my car the following day. Certainly an evening to remember!

Superb orchestral playing of Strauss's beautiful music together with some top class singing made this an enjoyable evening. But the production was,for us,a disaster. The introduction of warplanes and the idea of setting the second act in a military hospital were perverse and did not serve the central purpose of the opera. We need more Strauss at Glyndebourne but hope we shall not be seeing Der Rosenkavalier set in 1930s Chicago.
Can you make the surtitles bigger as at the ROH? I was sitting in the front row of the circle but sometimes had to rely on my rather inadequate German.

Superb music, ravishingly conducted and played. Amazing singing.
What a pity about the production: confusing, tasteless, uninspiring,and without any apparent relation to the music or the libretto. Sadly I now have another name to add to my list of opera directors to avoid.

Opera: one of the best. Singing and conducting: excellent and fully up to Glyndebourne standards. However, the production did not do the piece justice. There was not enough contrast between the groups of protagonists: the opera performers; the vaudeville group; the non-performers. The costumes were dowdy. The whole production was not a patch on the one that I saw at Glyndebourne some years ago.

This was a dire production. The orchestra and singers were excellent, but the producer didn't seem to realise that this was fantasy, and tried unsuccessfully to construct a realistic narrative. The field hospital setting was derivative of a recent Bayreuth production, ans so wasn't even original. Null points to the producer!

My first visit to Glyndebourne , first class tone up in the gods ,wonderfull stroll of the gardens,perfect setting for operatic experience.

Great evening, usual great staff, wonderful gardens, ambience & dining, weather also wonderful.Performance: great orchestra ,musicianship, conducting & singing.Outstanding performances, music master & Zerbinetta. Production very poor with little relevance to libretto or original meaning of opera. When will Glyndebourne realize that these edgy/clever & sometimes almost meaningless productions are very often not appreciated by regular opera-goers who want an honest, sensible an intellectually clear interpretation with relevance to the original opera. Modern-dress can be fine, pseudo-intellectual interference is not welcome.

Ariadne auf Naxos, Tuesday, 4th June, 2013

Thank goodness for Maestro Jurowski, the LPO and the singers who made the most of Strauss’s glorious score − by turns sumptuous, expressive, subtle and playful. But the notion that the Prologue should conclude with an air raid (interrupting the Composer’s impassioned reaction to the proposed changes to his opera) and that the mythology of the opera be committed to a hospital setting was a grotesque mistake. At times, the hospital antics descended into a sub-Carry-on-Nurse routine that did serious mischief to what the music was doing. And making Zerbinetta into a serial nymphomaniac in need of restraint was no help at all to her long aria. Overall I have to say that, despite high hopes, I was disappointed.

Friday was a glorious evening, and a visit to Glyndebourne is always a joy but Sadly Ariadne was a disappointment. The Opera has some gorgeous music but the production which started well enough disintegrated totally from the moment the planes flew over. What a shame. The translation was poor too. Apart from the divine Tom Allan the singers diction was appalling and not really up to the music.

Loved coming to Glyndebourne as usual. Great and professionally served dinner at the Mildmay and appreciated tray awaiting us at Long Bar for pre-opera drinks. Garden immaculate. However we could not see the relevance of the set and production to the original Ariadne auf Naxos. This particularly applied to the lyrics of Ariadne and Bacchus which seemed out of place in a 1940's country house/ hospital.

Largely agree with what seems to be the majority view. Vocally and orchestrally excellent, but the production went well off the rails after the prologue, which was a quite good piece of updating. It would have been less enterprising, but more effective, if the line taken in the prologue had been continued, as opposed to dragging in the theme of the utilisation of country houses in WW II, which really failed to relate to the story of Ariadne and Bacchus. The commedia del arte element, in particular, ended up badly short-changed.

We enjoyed the music hugely, but why, by this silly production, make the opera -already quite silly - about something other than what Strauss put to music? It just spoiled the whole experience for us. "Relevant to the human condition"? Not for us.

The music was sublime and beautifully played, why is it necessary to spoil it with so many artefacts on stage that are distracting and un-necessary? The composer moved around so quickly that one couldn't keep up with her, the impact of her fantastic part sadly lost in the bobbing up and down. The second act was contrived and did nothing to enhance the score as far as I was concerned, and the 'rape' scene was awful, Zerbinetta's lovely part subliminated. It lost all depth of meaning for us. Much better with the eyes closed.
We have moved too far away from static opera, surely there is a happy medium that allows the audience to add his or her own thoughts to the action on stage? Are we so ruined by television that we have to be constantly amused? This interpretation reduces a fine score to a soap opera.

After years without a Strauss opera, eagerly awaited Ariadne - such wonderful music! Prolgue OK until it ended with war planes! Opera then went from bad to worse! Why? Oh! Why does the director ignore the libretto? Orchestra played beautifully but the distractions going on stage were ridiculous
and the wonderful score was constantly at odds.

Everyone in our party was new to this opera, so we went in with no preconceptions other than some concerns about lukewarm reviews mixed into our absolute confidence that Glyndebourne would put on something wonderful. As it turned out, we all loved the production - musically gorgeous, of course, and actually both acts worked for us, although the second act needed a LOT of discussion and processing afterwards, but we think we got it!

I wouldn't recommend it if you have a vision of your perfect Ariadne production in your head, but if you're completely open to another perspective or complete newbies like us, then go for it. The company was wonderful, and the understudy Zerbinetta a joy.

We're always happy to take a risk with Glyndebourne, and we're glad that they continue to push boundaries too.

The Glydebourne magic was not lost - the sun shone, the orchestra and singers played and sang ravishingly.

But in our opinion, the production was not in the spirit of the Strauss/Hofmannsthal concept. The supertitles reflected the production rather than being a translation of the German. The second act can only work if it is a performance mixing opera seria with comedy entertainment troup. There were many examples where the action was in conflict with the words and the music - but none more so than Zerbinetta's recitative and area - where she ends up in a straight jacket. (No wonder the audience was not allowed to express their appreciation with what is usually an ovation that stops the show for several minutes.)

On the way out we met a friend, who is far more knowledgeable about opera than we are. He has seen four or five other Areadnes and knew the opera well. His first words "well what's your verdict?" All four of us put our thumbs down.
The singing was excellent as was the conducting and the orchestra but the production was a "show-off" and detracted from the best music that Strauss ever wrote. Still if one shut one's eyes and opened one's ears the evening, as is always the case with Glyndebourne, was enjoyable.

I saw the production last night (in a live stream, at the Clapham Picturehouse), and I absolutely loved it. It’s a brilliant, daring, beautiful production. The music is gorgeous, the singing is sublime, the acting is superb, and the setting is visionary. Thoma brings the major preoccupation of Strauss’ work, the relationship between art and real life, to the fore: how art can distract us, in a selfish way, from grim reality (fiddling while Rome burns), but also how art can heal us, and help us to understand or make sense of life’s (sometimes senseless) chain of events – we only have to look at Wilfred Owen to see the power of art in the aftermath of war. The journey from despair to hope, made, in this production, by the Composer, Ariadne and Bacchus in the opera proper (after the interval), is a shining example of that slow renegotiation with reality which must come after a terrible catastrophe – physical or psychological – before one can rejoin the ‘real world’ again, where sometimes art makes ‘better’ – i.e. more bearable – sense of life. This, for Strauss, is the vindicating power of art (keeping the Composer on stage is a brilliant move by Thoma here).

The depiction of the asylum as Ariadne’s island of isolation is acute and powerful: we might also think of Tom Rakewell in Bedlam in the final act of The Rake’s Progress. It’s also eminently fitting to the myth: Bacchus is the god of ecstasy, of ‘standing outside yourself’, of the mind-altered state; Ariadne is demented by grief; Bacchus is the right god to bring her back, to rehabilitate her disorientated mind, and Thoma creates the perfect context for this mutual healing and learning. There is also a delicious pun in the background: just as Strass and Hofmannsthal use myth to ‘elevate’ their opera seria, this setting reflects how we ourselves ‘mythologise’ the wartime period as a time of moral sacrifice and heroic ideals: myth for the modern age.

Thoma’s production certainly refashions this opera: but in a way which makes it more vivid, more real, and more powerful – exactly what a good, new production should do for a discerning audience. Well done EVERYONE. As she proves, there is no better place to question the vanity of art – or illustrate its ultimate power – than against a backdrop of violence. Fabulous.

Having earlier seen Ariadne on May 22nd it was a joy to revisit it by way of the podcast.
I still hold reservations about act 2 and in this regard cannot better Colin Gregory’s comments from June. 4th (above) so won’t try.
The good thing is that the vocal glitches that somewhat marred my earlier visit have completely gone and the tingle factor of Großmächtige Prinzessin together with the glory of the ending are fully restored.
This Ariadne has certainly made me think, and given great pleasure. Appetite fully whetted for the remainder of the season despite the sadly over -worked " Regietheatre", an unwelcome addition to the vocabulary of Glyndebourne.

excellent singers and music.Not too sure about the production ..could not get involved..but hope A&N is repeated next year or with GTO

Disappointingly I had failed to get tickets for this production, and so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to watch it online, and the streaming and the camerawork were excellent. Whilst perhaps a moratorium ought to be imposed on 1940s English country-house settings for operas (this is about the fourth I've seen in recent years, including of course Falstaff), Thoma's concept proved entirely meaningful in its own right, even if the story she told was a very different one from that originally intended. I don't see that as any problem. This sensitive and funny interpretation was hardly a case of malignant Regietheater: the concept created a believable narrative remarkably sympathetic to the text, with no sense of libretto or music being shoehorned into an unpromising mould. The cast looked entirely comfortable with that they were doing and expressing, and both humour and depth were allowed to breathe. If it's revived, as I hope, I will certainly come to see it.

This was my first 'real' experience of opera. Our party had a wonderful afternoon/evening, the opera was superb and the surroundings magnificent. I have decided that if I am to enjoy opera again it will only ever be at Glyndebourne!

I agree with most of the comments already made that the performance of the music was great, but the setting of the production in the Second World War was simply confusing and irritating, The air raid at the end of the Prologue was just ridiculous. So many producers like to do something different with works already established in the repertoire but fail to make allowance for the fact that a large proportion, perhaps even the majority, of the audience will be seeing the work for the first time. Even for someone already familiar with Ariadne the production was at times bewildering, but anyone seeing it for the first time would be left completely baffled.

We saw the performance on 2nd June, a fine sunny afternoon. I had apprehensions about the production from reading the programme notes, but these were largely dispelled by the Prologue which worked extremely well. It was a pleasure to hear Thomas Allen in the role of Music Master, but the whole ensemble sung and played brilliantly (including a delightful Zerbinetta who took over the role at short notice). It had all the energy and activity that the Prologue demands.

In contrast, the second half was a disappointment. I found the setting destroyed the esssence of the work. By introducing a delay of some months and changing the location, the whole point of having to perform Ariadne's story simultaneously with the harlquinade was lost. Equally by turning the commedia troupe into members of ENSA, the dynamics of their interaction with Ariadne were fundamentally altered. The hospital setting overwhelmed everything; although the staging of the final duet did allow the redemptive qualities of the music to come through.

Friends who had not seen the piece before were confused, and although the singing and playing were superb, I feel the production (or at least the second half) detracted from rather than enhanced the experience. As ever a visit to Glyndebourne is an enriching experience and I fully support the Company's support for innovation and diversity, so it is doubtless a good thing that some productions arouse controversy.

Much to admire, of course, with artists of such quality on display. But this 'Ariadne' isn't one of the Glyndebourne productions that took off in the way we've come to expect. The problem, obviously, was with Fraulein Thoma's 1940s concept. Hofmannsthal and Strauss took the Ariadne-Theseus-Bacchus myth of erotic arbitrariness and abandonment seriously, but the superimposition of the war-hospital set-up in the second half, though eye-catching and thought-provoking, etc., etc., had nothing to contribute to that essential theme. At the end I doubted whether the exercise in 20th century historicisation - sometimes interesting, sometimes 'touchy', sometimes daft - , had shed any genuine light on the retelling of the myth. Moral: myths are part-and-parcel of (some) operas but historical references (no matter how 'relevant' or 'stimulating' they're meant to be) are often only distractions.

Posted on behalf of Paul Clark

I did not know the opera, but had read the unenthusiastic reviews of this production. In the event we enjoyed it very much - wonderful music, of course, very well played once the orchestra had got into its stride. The understudy Zerbinetta managed very well with the challenges of the second act, although she cannot have had much of a lead-in.
I'd like to see it again, but not in this production!

First, and hopefully last, experience of central-European Regietheater at Glyndebourne. All the subtlety of Strauss's and Hofmannstahl's conception steamrollered to make way for the director's irrelevant interpretation.

After a major hold-up on the M25 and with a miserable cold and damp evening, each of us with various aches and pains, things weren't looking good. But the music and Sir Tom Allen soon dispelled our angst! A wonderful return of the music and song of Strauss to Glyndebourne. Lovely Strauss singing. Ulyana Aleksyuk standing in earlier than expected was a knockout. The production notion was inventive and did give us a terrific coup de theatre at the end of the Prologue, but it didn't carry me into the second half and anyway it led to too many distractions with intrusive "business": RAF flag sellers wandering about while an aria was being sung in the Prologue and the white screens going up and up (geddit?) during the big discursive period near the end of the Opera. Nevertheless, we went away happy. More Strauss, please...

We enjoyed (as always) the garden.We thought the singing excellent but found the production depressing and irrelevent.We love the opera and were distracted from the music by all the improvements

Undoubtedly the worst production of this wonderful opera that I have ever seen - and I have seen many. Setting Act 2 in a military hospital is a complete perversion of the composer's and librettist's intent.

John Cox’s Capriccio and David McVicar’s Guilio Cesare were two of Glyndebourne’s most memorable productions. Both producers found a way of updating their interpretations while remaining faithful to the original concept devised by the librettists and composers.
Sadly Katharina Thoma decided she could not trust the libretto of Ariadne but chose to impose upon the work an idea that changed the whole concept of The Opera as envisaged by Strauss and Hofmannsthal. Her decision seemed to be based on the assumption that a Glyndebourne audience would not be able to understand that it was witnessing the entertainment that had been discussed at length throughout the Prologue, would be unable to imagine that Ariadne might have become a tad depressed by her isolation on an island, that she might become quite emotional when rescued and that the flighty Zerbinetta could be a more complex character than the one it met in the Prologue.
Did it really need a hospital ward dealing with post-traumatic stress to draw out these points?
What a pity that, like Basil Fawlty, the producer failed to follow Polly’s advice “Don’t mention the war” because it caused her too to bring some utterly ludicrous ideas to the proceedings.
Thanks to the singers, orchestra and conductor for giving us the real thing musically.

Much to admire, of course, with artists of such quality on display. But this 'Ariadne' isn't one of the Glyndebourne productions that took off in the way we've come to expect. the problem, obviously, was with Fraulein Thoma's 1940s concept. Hofmannsthal and Strauss took the Ariadne-Theseus-Bacchus myth of erotic arbitrariness and abandonment seriously, but the superimposition of the war-hospital set-up in the second half, though eye-catching and thought-provoking, etc., etc., had nothing to contribute to that essential theme. At the end I doubted whether the exercise in 20th century historicisation - sometimes interesting, sometimes 'touchy', sometimes daft - , had shed any genuine light on the retelling of the myth. Moral: myths are part-and-parcel of (some) operas but historical references (no matter how 'relevant' or 'stimulating' they're meant to be) are often only distractions.

We rated the evening on 31st May at 4/10. The production was too fussy, the constant movement and artefacts are a distraction from the music which builds to the sublime duet at the end of Act 2. A short first half of 45 minutes makes the long interval superfluous. Are we attending for music or the occasion?
The first act was plausible and amusing though the composer lost impact through constantly dashing about the stage. The end of the first act was dramatic and awesome. The second act trivialised the score, was very annoying, the attempted rape totally un-necessary and trivialising. Where was the tension between faithfulness and infidelity, the development of Zerbinetta's character? Do we have to have farce and sex in a seriously beautiful musical setting? If we had not been in the middle of the row we would have walked out. Please achieve a happy medium between static opera and meddling!

One of our favourite Strauss operas, particularly so as we sang the Comedia del'Arte theme through the birth of our second son. Actually the scene of the second act was not objectionable, as many reviewers found it, and it gave meaning to the the two acts together, plus a very convincing interpretation of the Composer, including the extra role as a spectator in the second act. The "nurses" also worked, and altogether a good production. We have recommended the opera in the past to those not familiar with opera or Strauss, and will continue to do so.

A witty and imaginative production coupled with a magnificent account of the score from Jurowski and the orchestra. Soile, as always, magnificent; arguably the greatest living Strauss soprano. Sunday saw glorious weather too, so a truly lovely day of Glyndebourne at it's best. Every aspect of customer service done discreetly and efficiently. Looking forward to Hippolyte in a few weeks...fingers crossed for the weather!

I have never enjoyed a production of Ariadne so much. We loved the production but what I shall remember for a long time to come is the sound of the orchestra - it was superb and brought a whole new dimension to that fabulous music. If I'm being critical I didn't think all the singers were on tip top form except for the legendary Tom Allen and a very good debut performance from Frederick Long who sang a small role but with exemplary panache and musicality. Another triumph at Glyndebourne. Bravo!

Wonderful production, very interesting. Vladimir Jurowski and the orchestra excelled in the beautiful Strauss music. Highly recommended.

Very disappointing performance. The director appeared either to ignore what the piece was about, or else was not aware of it.
Ariadne is absolutely perfect for Glyndebourne so it was lamentable that of the seven productions I have seen this was the worst. Totally at odds with what Strauss and Hofmannsthal were writing about. No humour; no tongue-in-cheek send up of operatic cliches. No joy of putting music- hall singers in the middle of Wagnerians. Who wants to watch people in hospitals being put in strait-jackets? Really!

Musically very disappointing too. The tempi were too fast; the glorious moments unrealised; the singers not given time nor space to expand into the musical line; the conductor had no feeling or sensibility for Strauss. I have heard all the roles better sung.

The weather was divine. The gardens beautiful. The place as ever a joy to visit. Our picnic was superb. It was all lovely apart from the opera.

I came with 16 year old God-daughter and her Mum for a first visit. The staging was a mixture of brilliance, occasional offence, bonkers moments and just plain clumsiness (rising curtains for transformation.....Hm). Thomas Allen delivered on every level at his 40th Anniversary performance and as a past 'Zerbinetta' myself, my heart was in my mouth for the understudy going on - she did brilliantly - just an unsurprising couple of wobbly moments of ensemble and some work on German text needed. We had a great day though and it all made for another unforgettable evening at the opera.

While the orchestral playing was of the highest order, and the production worked In the first half, the second half was rendered absurd by the director's ideas. And good an actress though she is, Soile Isokoski was simply not credible as Ariadne. There must be some correlation between age and casting on the modern opera stage...

The singing and the orchestra were magnificent as is usually the case. But the setting by the director was hilariously bad: the bombers were without justification, and we and our guests found the setting after the interval so ludicrously far from the nature of the opera that 3 of us simply laughed at the folly of it, and the 4th found the second half intolerable. As people who prefer to see modern works and modern settings appropriate to those works, we are not in the class of old fogeys, and we were deeply sad that such wonderful singing and playing were subjected to such "hospitalisation". As members we found this a rather sorrowful experience.

What a let-down the second half was!
Talk about DAFT - Just what did it have to do with the first half - which seemed to be about a re-arranged - mixed-media - theatrical / operatic event to be performed after dinner before the fireworks. What did we actually see? Was it a 'performance'? - Was it the realisation of a collective (or the composers own) mental breakdown following the bombing at the end of the Prologue? Were the characters being themselves, or were they "performing" their dramatic roles? Why did Zerbinetta's friends harass the injured? How quickly was a Stately Home turned into a Military Hospital? Was Biggles's Mum a goddess and I have missed his role in the Odyssey -( Circe - Circe)? What did ANY of the words actually mean? What happened to the Palm Tree with erectile dysfunctionality? And, by the way, what were the landed-gentry doing organising a theatrical extravaganza in a war-torn Britain ( and weren't the planes - Spitfires? - Friendly Fire?)? The musical standards were up to Glyndebourne's highest; as too the set and costumes - but WHY do it like that? It is 'off-piste' Strauss at the best of times. If the Production Team were so unsure about its viability - better to have offered a semi-staged or concert performance.

It mus be a sign of age, but I do not think I have seen anything so unjustifiably ODD. It turned what was always an artificial construct into a totally unreal one.

Never mind - there will never be a riot at Glyndebourne. I think this proves the narcotic effect of the long-interval - after a few drinks and a picnic you really can put on something incomprehensible and get applause at the end.

This was our 43rd visit to Glyndebourne since 1983

Musically up to Glyndebourne standards but the production was a travesty especially the second Act

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