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.


It simply doesn't work, and not for the first time we wondered why producers think it necessary to muck around with the original ideas of the composer and librettist. The prologue was NOT meant to be in an English country house, and Ariadne was meant to be alone on a desert island in the era of Greek mythology, not in a busy 2nd world war hospital ward.

The Zerbinetta made an impressive debut and the clowns were good, but when they are trying to shake her out of her depression, she ought to be hearing and watching their antics but unaffected by then, Bacchus was good but again,his appearance in such an environment is totally incongruous.

Musically a superb evening and great to hear Sir Thomas Allen in such fine form. Congratulations too to the substitute Zerbinetta who turned in a stellar performance. As for the setting.....well, I'm a traditionalist and it was just a bit too far left field for me, especially the main act. As for the atrocious weather, the less said the better, but it just shows how many picnic spots can be found within the architecture of the opera house! Altogether a splendid evening.

he audience on 30th May seemed to enjoy the production though there was some mumbling in the interval. Allen, whose 40th Anniversary as a Glyndebourne principal it was, sang beautifully, acted engagingly and collared the applause at the interval call.

Ulyana Aleksyuk stood in for the indisposed Claycomb and looked astonishing - if ENSA really had performers like her they'd have had to put bromide in the tea of the troops in large quantities. Given the short notice she apparently had Ms Aleksyuk performed really well - though the memory of her powerful legs and remarkable shorts will stay with me for a while ...

The placing of the Opera in 1940 seemed to make no sense at all and there was an element of parody in the whole staging. A cross between "Allo Allo" and "Dad's Army". The singing was OK but rather lacking in power. We were in the third row of the Stalls and the sound overall was balanced and sufficient but hardly all-encompassing. I thought Jurowski and the LPO played well.

It was good to see Michael Heseltine looking dapper and distinguished in the audience - he seemed to be enjoying his evening. The beef in Nether Wallop was the best I've had and Glyndbourne, though damp, looked as lovely as ever. It was an odd production but the applause seemed warm and genuine.

At first I was a bit sceptical about the production because of the comments I had read in the papers. But what I saw and heard really convinced me. The concept may sound odd but it does work. Everything that happens on stage goes with the music. I was used to our 1970ies Viennese production which ran until recently and was beautiful. But of course over the years it had become worn and unprecise. So I admired the precision of the Glyndebourne staging. And the singing was ranging from very good (e.g. nymphs and Zerbinetta's companions) over excellent (e.g. Thomas Allen, Sergey Skorokhodov) to sublime (Soile Isokoski). Orchestra and pianist were also great.

An absolutely stellar production. The staging is imaginative and clever, utilising an admittedly unusual but rather ingenious device to draw out the story. Strauss's sublime music was evoked to perfection by the orchestra; never have I heard the score sound so good. The cast was wonderful, too, and simply put, it was a joy from beginning to end.

Yes, the staging does have a concept, but it is a well-executed one, and I would recommend anyone to go with an open mind and give it a try. I loved the concept, but regardless of one's opinion of that, the musical values deserve to be heard. A truly glorious day out.

Somewhat disappointing evening - the leads all marginally under-cast/ sung, and a Konzept that didn't hold water. Great playing from the orchestra, and all the smaller roles really well done. Once again (cf last year's Figaro) the surtitles translated the production as opposed to the words.

singing and music all very good and production "interesting" but could not get involved .Salome or Rosenkavalier might have been more impressive.Would like to see again though

We attended the performance on the 22nd May and mostly had a splendid 'Glyndebourne' time. We enjoyed the gardens prior to the performance, had a good look in the shop, very tempting 'goodies' and then were treated to a delightful evening of music and wonderful singing. We all loved Kate and Laura, enjoyed the Dancing master and, of course, the marvellous Sir Thomas Allen as the Music Teacher and I loved the chaps in their striped blazers. My husband didn't enjoy the production as much as I, but on the whole it was well worth the drive from Hereford! PS, super dinner in Middle Wallop.

A wonderful experience from beginning to end. Delicious tea and supper served by very pleasant and competent staff in delightful surroundings.

Posted on behalf of Pamela Primavesi

Hugely amusing first act with audience laughing out loud - followed by dreamy second act - so romantic and atmospheric. The sopranos did you proud - lovely tones and sonics - just wonderful.

Cant wait for Falstaff.

Posted on behalf of Liz Hewitt

I have been away without email access since last Saturday - but home now and eager to recount the glorious experience my daughter (her 40th birthday treat!) and I had at Glyndebourne last Saturday. We both enjoyed it tremendously, and very much admired the production by Katharina Thoma, which made very clear and relevant to the human condition an opera which many find puzzling. (This in spite of my misgivings, having attended the splendid study day the Sunday before.)

The playing and singing were thrilling throughout, especially from the two debutantes Kate and Laura; we long to hear them both again. The set and costumes were a visual treat - witty and amusing, as was the movement - notably well executed by the cast. Altogether it was an exhilarating and memorable evening - thank you Glyndebourne. Now I can't wait for Hippolyte!

A great season to you all.

Posted on behalf of Wendy Cater

We were somewhat disappointed by the production and agree with the review in the Telegraph which said practically word for word what we said among ourselves on the way home. We adore Glyndebourne and look forward to our next visit when we are sure it will all be much more enjoyable.

Posted on behalf of Hew and Anne Billson

I thoroughly enjoyed the production on Saturday. It is first time I have seen the opera but had listened to it and had some misgivings about how it would be staged. However the interpretation and action of prologue got the first half well explained (+ amusing) so that music could take over in 2nd half. The music really fantastic in last half particularly last duet with Bacchus and Ariadne. Great musical treat.

Posted on behalf of Lyndall di Marco

Ariadne auf Naxos was a delight with lovely music and brilliant female singers

All 6 members of our party were unanimous about this verdict. The seats in the Gods were excellent and the standing place I had was perfect and for once I was not stiff after a trip to Glyndebourne. For reasons I cant explain I find your seats very uncomfortable especially in the stalls. I dont think this is a widespread problem but for me the Glyndebourne seats leave all the weight on my feet.

Posted on behalf of Andrew Curran

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