Ariadne Auf Naxos

December 4, 6, 11 and 13



Ariadne auf Naxos is in two parts, called the Prologue and the Opera. The first part shows the backstage circumstances leading up to the second part, which is in fact an opera within an opera.

The Prologue

At the home of 'the richest man in Vienna,' preparations for a party are under way. Two groups of musicians have arrived; one is a burlesque group, led by the saucy comedienne Zerbinetta, the other an opera company, who will present a serious opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. The preparations are thrown into confusion when the Major-domo announces that both performances must take place at the same time.

At first, the impetuous young Composer refuses to discuss any changes to his opera. But when his teacher, the Music Master, counsels him to be prudent and when Zerbinetta turns the full force of her charm on him, he drops his objections. But when he realizes what he has assented to, he is once again plunged into despair, and storms out.

The Opera

Ariadne is shown abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos, bewailing her fate, as she mourns her lost love and longs for death. At this point Zerbinetta and her four companions from the burlesque group appear. They attempt to cheer Ariadne, but without success. In a sustained and dazzling piece of coloratura singing Zerbinetta insists that the simplest way to get over a broken heart is to find another man. In a comic interlude, each of the clowns pursues Zerbinetta.

The three nymphs, Naiad, Dryad and Echo then announce the arrival of a stranger on the island. At first Ariadne thinks he is the messenger of death; but in fact it is the god Bacchus. He falls instantly in love with Ariadne and promises to set her in the heavens as a constellation. Zerbinetta returns briefly to repeat her philosophy of love; then the opera ends with the passionate singing of Ariadne and Bacchus.

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