Eros versus Thanatos
'Ariadne auf Naxos' in Paris,
experienced by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss, based on a Hugo von Hofmannsthal text, is one of the pinnacles of twentieth century opera. It has all the elements of a highly sophisticated intellectual divertissement: theatre within the theatre; opera seria (or rather tragédie lyrique) mixed with comic opera (or more exactly, commedia dell'arte, rather than opera buffa); a comparatively small orchestra of thirty-seven) with the capacity to make a Mozartean sound as well as that of the grand Wagnerian symphonic approach to musikdrama (which generally requires 120 instrumentalists in the pit), both coloratura and Wagnerian singers, and an intriguing libretto made up of a forty-five minute 'Prologue' and a ninety minute one act 'Opera'. Thus, it is not easy to understand why the current Paris Opera production is attracting such a large audience that it has already had as many as twenty-six performances in the huge Opéra Bastille (2700 seats). The production was initially devised for the smaller glittering Palais Garnier in 2003; it was so successful that it was revived, at the Opéra Bastille, in 2004. It was back again at the Opéra Bastille in December 2010 -- this review is based on the 30 December performance -- and most likely will return there during one of the next 'seasons' after a tour of other European Opera Houses...
Copyright © 8 January 2011