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.

Interval

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

Cast

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.

Comments

While I am perfectly open to being challenged by a production that is different from a preconceived expectation, I thought that this production possibly went too far. Will it ever be seen again? Everything was mostly fine up to the very end of the prologue until the bombing raid (and was it really necessary to have that wilting palm tree?) but in the opera proper things went awry. I do not see why Zerbinetta should have to sing part of her major aria in a straitjacket or that Ariadne was required to deliver some of her sublime music from seemingly difficult positions. That said, the singing was all marvellous and Zerbinetta et al clearly enjoyed themselves throughout. The orchestral playing was second to none and Jurowski will be greatly missed. One might 'experiment' with the production but the music will always reign supreme, thanks to Strauss' genius! I was accompanied by my daughter on this occasion - and she wants to return! I will be only too happy to oblige.

We had waited for a long time for a return of Strauss operas.
The staging of this opera was disappointing-gave the impression
of a director who strained to much to be "different" and the opera suffered.

It's a batty opera so it's OK to have a batty production, which I found witty and entertaining. Musically it was superb and there was some very fine singing. Last time I saw Ariadne at Glyndebourne, Maria Ewing was the composer and I thought I'd never hear/see her bettered, but Kate Lindsey was superb and I will be watching out for her. It was a clever idea to have her around in Act II, but it emphasised how sad it is that she doesn't get a chance to sing again!

A well sung performance. The production was alright in the prologue, even witty, but the second act (i.e. the opera proper) was wholly misconceived. Most of all the continuing, neurotic presence of the composer was irritating in the extreme. Likewise, the characterisation of Bacchus as a wounded airman, particularly in the final scene, meant that the climax of the opera was lost in a production which started off with an interesting idea but increasingly lost the plot.

I saw this production 3 times and was bowled over each time. I thought the concept (if that's what you want to call it) was bold and direct. I have seen several productions of this opera and while admitting that it's not my favourite (that honour goes to the previous production at Glyndebourne staged by John Cox) this is up there near the top. I must commend Maestro Jurowski and the LPO for the magnificent orchestral playing. Jurowski richly deserved the ovation he was given after the last performance by audience, orchestra and cast. He will be a great loss to Glyndebourne

Of the cast, I all the roles were well taken and the Management are to be congratulated for being able to field 2 brilliant Zerbinetas. I certainly hope we see and hear more of Kate Lindsey. As the Composer she was nothing short of fantastic.

I can't wait for a revival of this, hopefully with the same cast. And I will certainly be buying he DVD.

Congratulations to all involved in this brilliant production.

I and my wife can regretably only join the chorus of the majority of the attendents to Ariadne at Naxos who have been so disappointed (an understatement)by the Act 2 conception and staging. What puzzles us most is that the artistic committee has approved such project and let it materialize.The more so as the voices have been over all superb has always at Glyndebourne.
We take the opportunity to point out that we would like to see Glyndeborne not to succomb to the not so recent tendency of Directors to search for excessive modern "originalility, innovations,interpretations or transpositions"
We all expect to see again soon another MeisterSinger or FliederMaus, Giulio Cesare, Rusalka Fairy Queen

I had read a number of reviews of Ariadne before our visit and was disappointed to find that their negative tone reflected my own experience. As many others have said, the first act was well sung and enjoyable and I actually enjoyed the staging of the bombing raid, about which others had been critical. However, the second act was misguided, intellectually self indulgent, and brought nothing of value to the experience. Luckily the dinner served at Middle and Over Wallop was the best I have had there, and it fortified us for what was to come.

I have difficulties understanding the problems most people seem to have experienced with this production. To me it was crystal clear. The air raid is reality setting a brutal end to the composer´s artistic problems. In the hospital act the story goes on directly from the air raid. The persons we meet are the singers/actors from the prologue, not the people or gods they are impersonating. It is the soprano singing Ariadne who suffers and is depressed from damages during the raid. And in the last part of the act it is the tenor singing Baccus she falls in love with, not the god. Zerbinetta and her little gang are the singers impersonating them, and they are touched by their colleagues sufferings. All this is to bring the core of the story more near to us and to grip us more intensely, and so it does, or at least so it did to me. I have always regarded a good performance of Ariadne as gorgeous music gorgeously sung and played. So it was here, but we were given an unexpected bonus in a gripping and important story.

Some excellent singing, but the production was excruciating. I do hope that Glyndebourne will learn from this and not put us through another mess like this one. The 'concept' was messy and incoherent and did nothing to enhance or facilitate the opera. Apart from some of the idiotic moments that added nothing and were pointless distractions (a major aria sung by a character in a straightjacket?), the set was so cluttered that at times it was difficult even to see who was on stage let alone what they were doing. On occasions the cast appeared to be looking around to find space to stand. Quite frankly, if it wasn't so far I would have gone home early.

Musically first class with superb singing but I agree with other comments about the often incoherent staging. The way to enjoy this production is to focus on the individual performances and enjoy their musical excellence.The staging is reminiscent of many recent opera productions that I have experienced in Germany where the plots are subordinated to divverse contemporary themes in an occasionally forced manner.Overall this is however a good production and a must for all Richard Strauss fans.

Musically a great success. Jurowski was the star of the evening. However, the production was appalling: bore no relation to the libretto, music or Ariadne myth. Best was to sit back, close one's eyes and enjoy the music.

Like many others, I hugely enjoyed the musical side of the evening, both singers and orchestra, but the production was, I fear, more than a mistake, it was plain misguided. Setting the prologue in a Stately Home cetainly worked, but the air attack at the end of Act 1 was more than bizarre, it was intrusive and without logic or relevance: Act 2 completely failed. Why a hospital and why make Bacchus an Air Force chap: sorry but the German Director got her bearings wrong!

5th July

I went to Adriane twice for the music and also to test whether the mistreatment of the Act 2 would jar less. The music stood up to the the test. The stand in Bacchus was very good - slimmer and better looking than the the original, and sang even better.

The mistreatment of Act 2 is tragic, subtracting the aesthetics of the piece. The clinical rendition adds nothing to the sublime and transcendence quality of the piece. The sezure-fitting patient, injection, straitjacket, nursing uniform, hospital beds and ward screens are cheap distractions, irritating, unimaginative, lowly gimmicks that debase fine art.

Despite the reviews and my low expectations, I enjoyed the evening very much. This was mainly due to the fact that a visit to Glyndebourne is always a very special experience, the atmosphere is great and dinner with friends a pleasure. Ariadne auf Naxos, was musically very fine, but the production was entirely misjudged. What a waste of a great act one set, and what a ridiculous act two! A great shame, but this does seem to be the way things are going generally in opera production. Fortunately, Strauss's glorious music rose above the nonsense.

The music was beautifully played and sheer delight.
This was a very different production from that first one that led me to become a Festival member 50 years ago but I enjoyed it very much.I felt it was true to the composer's concept and for me that is important. Too many modernised productions impose distortions.
So - it was pleasantly surprising and intelligently conceived.
Hurrah for Glyndebourne and its patronage of younger people.

Musically superb but the production was disappointing. The prologue went well but the directorial concept for the opera was confused and incoherent. By the end it was a total mess. I cannot imagine that this part of the production is revivable without significant revision

The music and singing were excellent and maestro Jurawski showed his excellence throughout but unfortunately the production left us both cold. First act was reasonable but the setting of the second act had us both wondering what was actually going on. A great shame as we usually enjoy our Glyndebourne experiences greatly.

Hadn't seen Ariadne before - thoroughly enjoyed the first Act but felt the second was misconceived. The first act was played for laughs and we expected laughter and chaos in the second but it didn't work like that. The mood became serious instead with war intrusions. Tha stage was too cluttered and we felt it had lost its way. The music was well done, both singers and orchestra, but left us unsatisfied overall. Kate Lindsey as the Composer was excellent as was Thomas Allen's cameo. The others seem to have left little impression.

I have never seen Ariadne before.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first half with great singing and humour.

The second half was a real shock, in that I was expecting farce, but got outstanding drama. I did not expect to enjoy it quite so much as I did. On top of that, sublime singing. Genuinely great night

Beautifully sung and the orchestra was a real joy. Had it not been for the nonsensical and totally inappropriate hospital setting for the second part, this could have been acclaimed as a fine performance.

The music was lush and seductive. the singing was great too. THe production was simply odd.

You expect me to beleive we are in an English Country house during WW2 and they are all speaking German? The illusion was also spoiled by the lack of attention to detail that was almost offensive. RAF Commisioned officer's cap but he was wearing a Sgt's uniform?

For me the interval should have been cut because this is truly a one act opera.

Overall I enjoyed it - just thought it was a jump too far in a wrong direction.

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It is rather sad that this should be Vladimir Jurowski's last production. How wonderful when two very great minds met when he worked so closely with Peter Hall, (Cenerentola) one of Glyndebourne's greatest hours surely.

The orchestra and singing seemed excellent to me. The opera is a bit of a problem, with music that is lovely but repeating Rosenkavalier in places, and a highly contrived story. The production did well in using and building on this sense of contrivance and playfulness, but completely missed the point at the end. If the pseudo-Tristan ending is a bit of a satire on romantic opera it doesn't help to have an ending which is on the one hand excessively realistic (air raids, pilots, nurses etc) and on the other plain daft, seemingly arbitrary. The entrance of Bacchus has to be other-wordly for the beauty and satire to work. This was just pedestrian.

We saw Ariadne Fri 28th June - The staging of the prologue was OK - but the Opera was a travesty- what a depressing waste of time and resources. Fortunately I quickly started ignoring the production and watched the orchestra instead and as a result had a wonderful evening. Musically it was one of the best nights I have had at Glyndebourne.

Although it pains me to say I have to admit that the critics were right. A hideous production, one of the worst I have experienced at Glyndebourne. The music was sublime and most of the singing was first class, as was the orchestral playing under Jarowski, but the production was lacking in style, humour or sensitivity. A huge disappointment.

This was my first Ariadne so I approached it with an open mind (one of the great joys of supertitles is that one does not have to read the plot beforehand but can just let the story unfold). I had no problem with the updating of what is clearly a challenging opera to stage with two such contrasting parts, but not having had access to the programme, I was not aware of the exact period and was completely confused by the end of The Prologue - an air-raid never occurred to me, I thought the house had caught or been set on fire. However, although I thought the setting for The Opera was a clever idea, this was pushed too far and there was just too much 'business' going on almost all the time, which really did detract from the music. It was only in the final duet that I was really caught up in and focused on the singing - Zerbinetta was wonderful but I wanted to listen to her, not marvel at how she was managing to sing lying down in a straightjacket! Surely any opera production should aim to enhance the whole experience, visual and musical, and not try to capture all the attention for itself. This was a striking and memorable production, and we very much enjoyed it musically, but in the second half less would have been more.

Don't let the Strauss buffs put you off. I go to Glyndebourne for sublime singing (tick), superb musicianship (tick), moving performances (tick), and entertainment (tick). All the boxes were ticked last night, and it was a wonderful, magical evening, despite the iffy weather. It was also much enjoyed by the rest of the audience, judging by the prolonged and enthusiastic applause, and the buzz of happy conversation afterwards and at supper. Brilliant.

My guest's comment and she should know, she's an opera singer.

AWESOME

Having read poor crits of the opera, we approached it with some trepidation, but found that the pre-performance talk really helped We enjoyed it tremendously, Kate Lindsey's singing in particular. Who could not be enthralled by Strauss' beautiful, soaring music? By the end, the gentleman sitting next to me was groaning in ecstasy, saying "Wasn't that wonderful?" The audience on Sat certainly thought so, and applauded the conductor as warmly.
It is interesting that the production should give rise to such a diversity of comments!
I am still going to bed with the music going round my head.
Please more Strauss, eg Der Rosenkavalier, Cappricio?
Perhaps heresy to claim that this production gave me more pleasure than the one I saw some years ago, with Dame Janet Baker singing Ariadne.

Thank goodness for the glorious weather, and a superb orchestra. I suppose we must experiment in order to explore the music and the drama, but this was, I'm sorry to say, truly awful. Mr Riley above says it all.

An extremely enjoyable evening. The sun chased the rain and clouds away and fortunately we had managed not to read the reviews in advance. For us, the interpretation was surprising and there is a place for that at the Festival. It will certainly be memorable.

I have waited far too many years to see a production of "Ariadne auf Naxos" at Glyndebourne. It has always been one of my favourite operas and it should be the quintessential Glyndebourne experience. But this new production is the first since 1981. Why has it been absent for so long ? Indeed why has Strauss been absent from the repetoire for so long ? Why is there no "Arabella" or "Der Rosenkavalier" ?

Having read the reviews and comments by Glyndebourne patrons, I approached this new production with some trepidation. But I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Prologue which worked beautifully with Thomas Allen's Music Master the finest interpretation of this role I have ever seen. It was a model of vocal shading and subtlety and delightful physical expressiveness. The whole of the first half just flew by.

But I found the second half visually dispiriting. If you set the action it in a makeshift hospital ward following a Luftwaffe bombing raid, there isn't anywhere you can go. The context is too limited and there was no transformation at the end which the music demands and every other production of Ariadne I have seen also has. All we have here is the bed-screens being pulled across by the three red-cross nurses and floating in the on-stage breeze while Ariadne and Bacchus wander about aimlessly.

Bacchus is a killer of a role with murderously high notes which has defeated all but one of the singers I have seen attempt it. I thought the Russian tenor here was over-stretched and wisely didn't attempt to reach the notes.

But with Jurowski conducting and an excellent Zerbinetta from Laura Claycombe and the glorious music, you can always shut your eyes instead. But at the end of the day, it is one of those concept productions that is best "seen" on the radio !

I am mildly dismayed by the plethora of criticisms over this production. The facts are that Strauss and hoffmanstal gave us a witty libretto, glorious music in two contrasted acts. They did not bequearh one universal template but a structure which accommodates well to various interpretations.
Forty years ago ,act 2 normally had Ariadne on a rocky headland buffeted by a back stage windmachine. The latest production in Vienna was decidedly modern and there is no need to cavil with Glyndebourne providing an alternative interpretation.
For me Act 1 worked well and the phalanxes of footsoldiers did not really get in the way. Act 2 was the problem imposed upon the action by the device of the air raid.the requirement for the actors to get into and out of hospital beds centre stage distracted from the dramatic continuity.
but let us not saddle first time attendess with clamorous calls for a traditional staging. The glorious music,dramatic singing and witty ensembles are a delight and will support any number of alternative Director's concepts

Whilst there were some plus points in this Ariadne - the fine Ariadne of Soile Isokoski, Kate Lindsey's convincing Composer and the superlative trio of Naiad, Dryad and Echo - the conducting of Jurowksi was perfunctory and the production was ludicrously over the top and silly.
Overall it was a grievous disappointment after the brilliant semi-staged production in Paris last month at the Theatre de L'Athenee, where tickets cost a fraction of the price. Glyndebourne should seek out the services of the young conductor Maxime Pascal who really understood how to tease out the beauties of this score, the dazzlingly inventive director Benjamin Lazar who got far more out the piece with no sets and costumes than Glyndebourne managed with their grossly over-produced effort and above the utterly enchanting Julie Fuchs who stole the show with her Zerbinetta. This was the kind of inspired youthful talent that Glyndebourne has a tradition of discovering and presenting.

Excellent evening at Glyndebourne (again). I'd heard the reviews and was ready to be disappointed, but found this to be an exciting, engaging and thought-provoking production with the usual very high performance values. It made me think. Quite inspiring.

My first exposure to Ariadne: I've never seen it or heard it before, so I didn't have assumptions and expectations against which to measure an obviously interventionist production. The idea seemed to me to make a kind of clumsy sense, and it fitted with the oddness of the opera, but in the end I think this was a performance weighed down rather than liberated by its conceptual programme. (I've seen plenty of assertively non-traditional productions -- especially in Wagner -- which have worked brilliantly, but this didn't feel like one of them.)

The more rapturous passages of the score were beautifully delivered. After reading lots of unenthusiastic reviews, I ended up enjoying the evening much more than I expected to. Glyndebourne's willingness to experiment with Regietheater should be applauded, even if the results in this case were perhaps more miss than hit.

The comments are strongly divided on the producation, much as they were for the peculiarly-staged Rinaldo of 2011; some wildly enthusiastic, others seriously disappointed.

Surely the very simple answer is to be up front about what we can expect. "A new production of Ariade, in which the forced simultaneous staging of a serious opera with a lightwieght entertainment both take place in a WW2 country house hospital." Then we can all have a choice whether to book or not. After all, that is the situation with any revival or when Glyndebourne goes on tour. Little need be given away; just enough to give ticket buyers a clue what they may be in for. Traditionalists can then go one way and progressives another. Everyone benefits. What's the downside?

We quite enjoyed the quirkiness, by the way, and the music was, as usual, sublime.

Glyndebourne has neglected Strauss recently, and so it was with high expectation that we went to Ariadne on 22 May. Despite some excellent singing, and after a promising Prologue pleasantly and suitably set in a country house, the second Act was a great disappointment. The director had forced her own scenario on the opera, inserting business which worked against the piece and provided unnecessary distractions that caused increasing annoyance for us. There is nothing wrong with updating a work, but this treatment undermined the second Act and its wonderful music which is meant to be the actual performance made for the rich man. We are great fans of Glyndebourne and understand the need to find new directors, but someone should have blown a whistle before this production reached this stage.

I loved this production. Everything about it was unforgettable: it was warm and brave and beautifully sung. I was going to write a detailed analysis of all the thought that went into it, largely for the benefit of those who were in two minds about whether they liked it or not, but I looked at your comments and found that Charlotte Valori had said it all for me. Well done, Ms Valori, you really got it! I could wish that some of the newspaper critics had done the same. This goes onto my list of operas that have really mattered.

I cannot add to what others have said about an all-round excellent musical and vocal performance. However, this is the first time in fifty years of Glyndebourne and global Opera going that I have really welcomed the final curtain. This was a completely inarticulate mess of an obviously self serving production.

Please don't do this again Glyndebourne.

This production was a delight from start to finish. The decision to set this production of Ariadne auf Naxos in a Second World War country house used as a convalescent home for soldiers facilitated a smooth negotiation of the notorious eccentricities of the plot, with very effective costumes, lighting and set designs by Irina Bartels, Olaf Winter and Julia Müer respectively.

Kate Lindsey as the Composer gave a superb performance vocally and theatrically in this ‘trouser role’, with Soile Isokoski as Ariadne giving a captivating and deeply moving performance, especially in duet with Sergey Skorokhodov as Bacchus, who captured perfectly the mellifluous nature of the tenor writing.

Whilst one must wish Laura Claycomb an alacritous recovery, her replacement Ulyana Aleksyuk gave a breath-taking Glyndebourne début as Zerbinetta, performing the role with all the coquettishness and coloratura agility required of an infamously difficult part.

The four comedians (and later members of the commedia dell’arte troupe) Dmitri Vargin, James Kryshak, Torben Jürgens and Andrew Stenson demonstrated great talent both as humourists and singers. The precision of diction from all singers was as marvellous as always, making Hofmannsthal’s German clearly comprehensible without the supertitles.

It was a real pleasure to hear Thomas Allen as the Music Master for his 40th Anniversary at Glyndebourne. Ana Maria Labin, Adriana Di Paola and Gabriela Iştoc (as Naiad, Dryad and Echo respectively) performed with outstanding tonal control, doing justice to some of Strauss’ most exquisite ensemble writing.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra were as wonderful as always with many very well executed solos from all sections and Vladimir Jurowski showed complete mastery of the score with incredible attention to detail both in the pit and whilst communicating with the singers.

Finally, as a great lover of the music of Richard Strauss, I was completely unprepared for the breath-taking final twenty minutes of the opera, in which the quality of the singing, Strauss’ harmony, and the staging under the direction of Katharina Thoma created a masterpiece of such indescribable beauty that I was completely overwhelmed.

An anonymous Sixth Form student

A great disappointment. Our hearts sank when we read the Telegraph review. We hoped it might prove too severe but it was mild. Even Strauss's sublime music could not compete with irrelevant but distracting Luftwaffe, bombs, hospital beds, patients, bandages, singing nurses, and a frumpish bed-ridden Ariadne. The whole point of the opera was lost. We thought Glyndebourne had plumbed the depths with its puerile production of Macbeth a few years back but sadly 'concepts' seems to have become more important than the music.

Jeremy Brown

Unusually inept production of Ariadne so that one doubts whether one should book for any new production until it has been reviewed. After so many wonderful experiences in the past this is very disappointing.

On behalf of Mr Butlin

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.

On behalf of Professor A. J. Downs

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.

There is no greater pleasure than coming to Glyndebourne and recent productions of Billy Budd and Mastersingers have only served to prove that it offers an unique and glorious experience. However, this Ariadne was so awful and mis-conceived that I am still trying to get over how bad it was. The orchestra was wonderful, but the subtly of Hofmansthal and Strauss's conception was lost in a ludicrous and muddled setting where extraneous characters were imposed on the production, the Composer wandered around with nothing to do, Zerbinetta was turned into a sex object rather than just being 'sexy' and the wit and joy of the Commedia dellarte characters was completely lost. Some operas can benefit from a change of time - Glyndebourne's Capriccio transferred to the 1920's is a superb example, but this 1940 setting just killed the joy, wit and beauty this opera offers. Strauss has a wonderful heritage at Glyndebourne but this production does nothing to enhance it - alas!

I have seen this production twice now and I am going again. I can't wait for the DVD. This was Glyndebourne at it's very best. I can not speak highly enough of Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO. Next I would praise the female singers - all three very notable debuts. Sadly at the second performance there was a cover Zerbinetta. No matter, this just proved how Glyndebourne's cover system really works.

The production was imaginative and bold. I am not saying that this is the best production of "Ariadne", I have seen. That would have to be the Glyndebourne production directed by John Cox, last seen in 1981, but this current production is up there. Please, please can it be revived soon.

The singing and the playing were wonderful. I understand that a director wants to put his or her personal stamp on a production, and a certain amount of anachronistic agenda may be added. But this went much too far. In Act Two, there was such a discrepancy between what I was seeing on stage and what I was hearing from the score that I had to shut my eyes and focus on the music alone. The director was pulling against the composer and his librettist for all she was worth. All very frustrating. If only the piece had been given to us straight.

We loved the music and the singing and liked the setting. However, the production did not need the appearance of the Japanese Zeros flying in at the end of the prologue. It was historically inaccurate and completely unnecessary. It detracted from the piece completely. Lots of country houses were taken over in the war for all sorts of reasons and setting Glyndebourne as a hospital was appropriate. None of us could understand what the composer was doing in the second half. Her appearance made no sense and in most productions, he / she is not seen in the second half.

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