<< -- 5 -- Roderic Dunnett A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Latterday magic fire music over, the wash of oboe, clarinet and harp
is as wafting as Schreker's elusive tinkles (Der Ferne Klang had
just wowed stages all over Germany by the time of Ariadne mark 1).
Hoffmansthal's text is as scented as Oscar Wilde for this post-Salome
Bacchus scene (Strauss would tread similar ground with the later Daphne
(1926-7) and Die Liebe der Danae (1938-40, though not premièred
complete till Salzburg in 1952). Brubaker's description of his mother Semele's
demise, with its impossibly beguiling alternations of high and low tessitura
-- echoed at the opera's close -- was as bewitching as his carousing costume
(he looked like E T A Hoffmann on a bad day out) was -- deliberately -- not.
There are, after all, echoes of Shakespeare's Petruchio in Hoffmansthal's
On hearing that weird accordion-like sound in the orchestra, no wonder
Ariadne (like her only begetter, Koch's beautifully obsessive Composer)
believes he's Death -- gateway to not just sexual bliss but a starry universe.
As lighting designer Jennifer Tipton's myriad constellations appeared, swirling
across the cyclorama, this proved a heavenly apotheosis : 'What is this
spell, that one kiss, and I cease to be Ariadne?' The spell, mostly is the
(real) composer's music : bassoon and xylophone nursing the couple's ensemble
('When a new god appears we surrender completely') -- the motto, in effect
, of the opera; the departing players (Bliss's pumpkinised Olympians yet
again); the touching exit of Nicholls's Echo, in a welter of reds and blues;
and the resurrected Ariadne's exit into redeeming blue light. Shades of
Titanic, perhaps; but a night to remember.
Copyright © 15 December 2002
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE
INTERVIEWS WITH CHRISTOF LOY AND ANTONIO PAPPANO (WITH SOUNDCLIP)