The virtuoso operatic piece Ariadne on Naxos, imbued with the elements of opera seria and opera buffa, is considered even today as one of the most original, accomplished and attractive pieces of music by Richard Strauss, occupying a special place in his oeuvre. Close collaboration between composers and librettists contributed to the birth of many dominant pieces in the opera repertoire. The creative duets like Mozart-Da Ponte, Verdi-Boito and Strauss-Von Hofmannsthal by all means belong among the most outstanding ones. Ariadne on Naxos was the third of the six operas created by Strauss and the novelist and librettist Von Hofmannsthal, after Elektra and Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose). Several creative years during which they conceived many versions of the opera, passed from the initial idea, when they decided the day after the premiere of The Knight of the Rose in 1911 to create an adaptation of Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (The Burgeois Gentleman), to the final version, premiered with great success in 1916.
The libretto revolves around the Greek myth about the daughter of the Cretan King, who falls in love with Theseus, the son of the King of Athens. In exchange for a promise to marry her, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. On their way to Athens, they stop on the island of Naxos, where Theseus abandons her. The popular theme has been reappearing in the world of opera from Monteverdi to Orff.
The music of Ariadne on Naxos is no longer so intoxicating and powerful as that of Salome and Elektra; it is rather reminiscent of Mozart and celebrates playfulness, refinement and melodiousness. Many opera connoisseurs claim that there was no work as serene and profound as Ariadne, ever since Mozart's Così fan tutte. In addition to the Mozartian nuances, the final version of the opera also features elements of neoclassicism and Italian masked balls, as well as moments reminiscent of Wagner's masterpieces or a lullaby that could have been written by Schubert. The entire music seems to float above the prominent accents of the literary model.
Ariadne on Naxos is an excellent work for our ensemble, in terms of its artistic presentation as well as its staging. We have entrusted our orchestra to the excellent conductor Aleksandar Marković, whom we remember from the successful staging of the performance Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman). He also conducted the premiere performance of the 2021/2022 season, dedicated to Stravinsky. Marin Blažević from Rijeka will be directing and thus presenting his work on our stage for the first time.