Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 by Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 with a German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal ; , was an Austrian novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist.-Early life:...

. Bringing together slapstick comedy and consuming beautiful music, the opera's theme is the competition between high and low art for the public's attention.

First version (1912)

The opera was originally conceived as a thirty-minute divertissement
Divertissement is used, in a similar sense to the Italian 'divertimento', for a light piece of music for a small group of players, however the French term has additional meanings....

 to be performed at the end of Hofmannsthal's adaptation of Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

's play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme is a five-act comédie-ballet—a play intermingled with music, dance and singing—by Molière, first presented on 14 October 1670 before the court of Louis XIV at the Château of Chambord by Molière's troupe of actors...

. Besides the opera, Strauss provided incidental music
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (Strauss)
Le bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60, is an orchestral suite written by Richard Strauss between 1911 and 1917. The original idea of Hugo von Hofmannsthal was to revive Molière's 1670 play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, simplify the plot and introduce a commedia dell'arte troupe, add some incidental music...

 to be performed during the play. In the end, the opera occupied ninety minutes, and the performance of play plus opera occupied over six hours. It was first performed at the Hoftheater, Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, on 25 October 1912. The director was Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt
----Max Reinhardt was an Austrian theater and film director and actor.-Biography:...

. The combination of the play and opera proved to be unsatisfactory to the audience: those who had come to hear the opera resented having to wait until the play finished.

The first version was produced in Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 beginning on 5 December 1912 and Prague on 7 December 1912. The Munich premiere followed on 30 January 1913 in the old Residenztheater
Residenz Theatre
The Residence Theatre or New Residence Theatre of the Residence in Munich was built from 1950 to 1951 by Karl Hocheder...

, a venue which was inferior for the presentation of opera, both acoustically and due to lack of space for the musicians. Hofmannsthal overruled the conductor Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor. He is considered one of the best known conductors of the 20th century. Walter was born in Berlin, but is known to have lived in several countries between 1933 and 1939, before finally settling in the United States in 1939...

's preference for the Hofoper on the grounds that the smaller theatre was more suitable for a work of this kind. The cast included the American Maude Fay
Maude Fay
Maude Fay was an American operatic soprano who was known for singing dramatic roles.-Biography:Originally from San Francisco, Maude Fay went to Dresden on the advice of Johanna Gadski...

 as Ariadne, Otto Wolf as Bacchus, and Hermine Bosetti
Hermine Bosetti
Hermine Bosetti née von Flick , was a German coloratura soprano.Bosetti sang her debut in Wiesbaden as "Ännchen" in Der Freischütz. In 1900 she was a member of the Vienna State Opera and from 1901 until 1924 she was a star singer with the Bavarian State Opera...

 as Zerbinetta. Strauss, being a native son, had a close association with Munich and was held in high regard, but had to miss the performance as he was on a concert tour in Russia. The audience openly expressed its disapproval of the piece by hissing after the first act. For the succeeding performances Walter introduced cuts and moved the production to the Hoftheater, and the attendance began to improve. The 1912 version was also produced in Berlin beginning on 27 February 1913 and in Amsterdam in 1914.

In London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 the early version was given eight times at His Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre, in Haymarket, City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre...

 beginning on 27 May 1913. The Hoffmannsthal adaptation of Molière's play was presented in an English translation by Somerset Maugham under the title The Perfect Gentleman. The opera was sung in German with Eva von der Osten
Eva von der Osten
Eva Helga Bertha von der Osten was a German soprano. She was born in Helgoland, the daughter of actor Emil von der Osten and Rosa von der Osten-Hildebrandt ....

, Hermine Bosetti and Otakar Marák, conducted by Thomas Beecham
Thomas Beecham
Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet CH was an English conductor and impresario best known for his association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras...

. The reviewer in The Musical Times found the incidental music for the play to be more attractive than that for the opera, which nevertheless had "many strong emotional appeals". However, the orchestration of the opera was thought to be "peculiar", and in the finale, the love-making of Bacchus and Ariadne, tedious.

Second version (1916)

After these initial performances, it became apparent that the work as it stood was impractical: it required a company of actors as well as an opera company, and was thus very expensive to mount, and its length was likely to be a problem for audiences. So in 1913 Hofmannsthal proposed to Strauss that the play should be replaced by a prologue which would explain why the opera combines a serious classical story with a comedy performed by a commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

 group. He also moved the action from Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. Strauss was initially reluctant, but he composed the prologue (and modified some aspects of the opera) in 1916, and this revised version was first performed at the Hofoper
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an opera house – and opera company – with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. It is located in the centre of Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera . In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian...

, Vienna, on 4 October of that year. This is the version that is normally staged today, although the original play-plus-opera is occasionally performed (for example, at the 1997 Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh International Festival
The Edinburgh International Festival is a festival of performing arts that takes place in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, over three weeks from around the middle of August. By invitation from the Festival Director, the International Festival brings top class performers of music , theatre, opera...


The most important aria in either version is "Großmächtige Prinzessin" / "high and mighty princess". It is sung by Zerbinetta.

Performance history of the second version

After its premiere in Vienna the second version was first performed in Berlin on 1 November 1916, followed by Zurich on 28 January 1917 (in a production by the Mannheim Opera). It was first presented in Budapest on 19 April 1919 (in Hungarian in a translation by Z. Harsányi), and in German in Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

 on 12 March 1920, Amsterdam in January 1924, and London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 at the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

 on 27 May 1924 with Lotte Lehmann
Lotte Lehmann
Charlotte "Lotte" Lehmann was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier was considered her greatest...

 as Ariadne, Maria Ivogün
Maria Ivogün
Maria Ivogün was a distinguished soprano singer of Hungarian origin. She was especially an outstanding interpreter of the works of Mozart: her recording of the aria of the Queen of the Night became legendary.- Biography and artistic career :Maria Ivogün was born Ilse Kempner...

 as Zerbinetta (in her debut with the company), Elisabeth Schumann
Elisabeth Schumann
Elisabeth Schumann was a German lyric soprano who sang in opera, operetta, oratorio, and lieder. She left a substantial legacy of recordings.-Career:...

 as the Composer, Karl Fischer-Niemann as Bacchus, and Carl Alwin conducting. Despite the stellar cast the production was not successful, with one of the lowest box office returns of the season, and was repeated only once.

It was first performed in Italy in Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 at the Teatro di Turino on 7 December 1925 (in an Italian translation by O. Schanzer); in Sweden in Stockholm on 27 November 1926 (in Swedish); in Brussels on 17 March 1930 (in a French translation by P. Spaak); in Helsinki on 12 May 1931 (in a Finnish translation by A. af Enehjelm); in Rome at the Teatro Reale
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
The Teatro dell'Opera di Roma is an opera house in Rome, Italy. Originally opened in November 1880 as the 2,212 seat Costanzi Theatre, it has undergone several changes of name as well modifications and improvements...

 on 28 March 1935 (in German); Antwerp on 28 September 1935 (in Flemish
Flemish can refer to anything related to Flanders, and may refer directly to the following articles:*Flemish, an informal, though linguistically incorrect, name of any kind of the Dutch language as spoken in Belgium....

); and in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is a theatre at 15 avenue Montaigne. Despite its name, the theatre is not on the Champs-Élysées but nearby in another part of the 8th arrondissement of Paris....

 on 10 September 1937 (in German).

The United States premiere of the opera was given in German by the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company
Philadelphia Civic Opera Company
The Philadelphia Civic Opera Company was an American opera company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was actively performing between 1924 and 1930. Founded by Philadelphia socialite Mrs. Henry M. Tracy, the company was established partially through funds provided by the city of...

 at the Academy of Music
Academy of Music (Philadelphia)
The Academy of Music, also known as American Academy of Music, is a concert hall and opera house located at Broad and Locust Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1857 and is the oldest opera house in the United States that is still used for its original purpose...

 on 1 November 1928. Conducted by Alexander Smallens
Alexander Smallens
Alexander Smallens was a Russian-born American conductor and music director.Smallens was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and emigrated to the United States as a child, becoming an American citizen in 1919...

, the cast included Alma Peterson as the Primadonna/Ariadne, Charlotte Boykin as Zerbinetta, Irene Williams as the Composer, and Judson House as the Tenor/Bacchus. It was presented by the Juilliard School
Juilliard School
The Juilliard School, located at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, United States, is a performing arts conservatory which was established in 1905...

 in New York City in English in a translation by A. Kalisch on 5 December 1934. The opera was performed for the first time in Canada at the Montreal Festivals
Montreal Festivals
The Montreal Festivals was an arts festival held annually in Montreal, Canada from 1936-1965. The festival was originally dedicated to the performance of classical music, presenting concerts of symphonic works, operas, oratorios, chamber music, and recitals...

 in 1946.

Metropolitan Opera performances

The opera was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 in New York City on 29 December 1962 with Leonie Rysanek
Leonie Rysanek
Leopoldine "Leonie" Rysanek was an Austrian dramatic soprano.-Biography:Rysanek was born in Vienna and made her operatic debut in 1949 in Innsbruck. In 1951 the Bayreuth Festival reopened and the new leader Wieland Wagner asked her to sing Sieglinde...

 as Ariadne, Jess Thomas
Jess Thomas
Jess Thomas was an American operatic tenor, best known for his Wagner singing.-Biography:Jess Floyd Thomas was born in Hot Springs, South Dakota. As a child he took part in various musical activities and later studied psychology at the University of Nebraska and Stanford University. He was...

 as Bacchus, Gianna D'Angelo
Gianna d'Angelo
Gianna D'Angelo , is an American coloratura soprano, primarily active in the 1950s and 1960s.Born Jane Angelovich in Hartford, Connecticut, she studied first at The Juilliard School in New York City with Giuseppe De Luca...

 as Zerbinetta, the mezzo-soprano Kerstin Meyer
Kerstin Meyer
Kerstin Margareta Meyer is a mezzo-soprano from Stockholm, Sweden.Meyer studied singing in Stockholm with Adelaide von Skilondz, at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and in Siena, Rome, and Vienna. Her debut was at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1952 as Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore...

 as the Composer, Walter Cassel
Walter Cassel
Walter Cassel was a renowned American operatic baritone and actor. He began his career singing on the radio during the mid 1930s and appeared in a couple of Hollywood musical films in the late 1930s. He made his first stage appearances in a handful of Broadway productions during the late 1930s and...

 as the Music Master, and Karl Böhm
Karl Böhm
Karl August Leopold Böhm was an Austrian conductor. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.- Education :...

 conducting. As of 20 February 2010 it had been performed there a total of 88 times with revivals of the original production in 1963–4, 1970, 1976, 1979, 1984–5, and 1987–8, and a new production, designed by Elijah Moshinsky, first presented in 1993, followed by revivals in 1994, 1996–7, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2010. The opera is a favorite of the Met's music director James Levine
James Levine
James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist. He is currently the music director of the Metropolitan Opera and former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Levine's first performance conducting the Metropolitan Opera was on June 5, 1971, and as of May 2011 he has...

, who has conducted it a total of 44 times from 1976 to 2003. Interpreters of the role of Ariadne at the Met have included Jessye Norman
Jessye Norman
Jessye Norman is an American opera singer. Norman is a well-known contemporary opera singer and recitalist, and is one of the highest paid performers in classical music...

 (22 appearances from 1984 to 1993) and Deborah Voigt
Deborah Voigt
Deborah Voigt is an American operatic soprano. Voigt regularly performs in opera houses and concert halls worldwide.- Early life and education :...

 (17 appearances from 1993 to 2003). The role of the Composer has been sung there most often by a mezzo-soprano (at least 64 times), including, besides Kerstin Meyer, who sang the role 6 times, Tatiana Troyanos
Tatiana Troyanos
Tatiana Troyanos was an American mezzo-soprano of Greek and German descent.-Early life:...

 (19 appearances from 1976 to 1988), Susanne Mentzer
Susanne Mentzer
Susanne Mentzer is an operatic mezzo-soprano. She is best known for singing trouser roles, such as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo, Octavian in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and the composer in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as other music of...

 (20 appearances from 1993 to 2003), Susan Graham
Susan Graham
Susan Graham is an American mezzo-soprano.Raised in Midland, Texas, she is a graduate of Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She studied the piano for 13 years...

 (5 appearances in the fall of 2005) and Sarah Connolly
Sarah Connolly
Sarah Patricia Connolly CBE is an English mezzo-soprano.Sarah Connolly was educated at Queen Margaret's School, York and then studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow...

 (5 appearances in the winter of 2010). Soprano interpreters of the Composer have included Irmgard Seefried
Irmgard Seefried
Irmgard Seefried was a distinguished German soprano who sang opera and lieder.Maria Theresia Irmgard Seefried was born in Köngetried, near Mindelheim, Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of educated Austrian-born parents. She studied at Augsburg University before making her debut in Aachen as the...

, Teresa Stratas
Teresa Stratas
Teresa Stratas, OC , is a retired Canadian operatic soprano. She is especially well-known for her award-winning recording of Alban Berg's Lulu.-Early life and career:...

 (9 appearances: 4 in 1963–4; 1 in 1970; and 4 in the spring of 1994), Evelyn Lear
Evelyn Lear
Evelyn Lear is an American soprano and opera singer.During her career between 1959 and 1992, Evelyn Lear appeared in more than forty operatic roles, appeared with every major opera company in the US and won a Grammy Award in 1966...

 (4 appearances in March 1970), and Maria Ewing
Maria Ewing
Maria Louise Ewing is an American opera singer who has sung both soprano and mezzo soprano roles. She is noted as much for her acting as her singing.-Life and career:...

 (8 appearances in 1984–5). Singers of the coloratura soprano
Coloratura soprano
A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano who specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs and leaps. The term coloratura refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice...

 role of Zerbinetta have included, besides Gianna D'Angelo, who sang it 7 times, Roberta Peters
Roberta Peters
Roberta Peters is an American coloratura soprano.One of the most prominent American singers to achieve lasting fame and success in opera, Peters is noted for her 35-year association with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York...

 (7 appearances in 1963–4), Kathleen Battle
Kathleen Battle
Kathleen Battle , is an African-American operatic soprano known for her agile and light voice and her silvery, pure tone. Battle initially became known for her work within the concert repertoire through performances with major orchestras during the early and mid 1970s. She made her opera debut in...

 (9 appearances in 1987–8), and Natalie Dessay
Natalie Dessay
Natalie Dessay is a French coloratura soprano. She dropped the silent "h" in her first name in honor of Natalie Wood when she was in grade school and subsequently simplified the spelling of her surname outside France...

 (12 appearances: 7 in the fall of 1997 and 5 in the spring of 2003).


Role Voice type Stuttgart Premiere,
25 October 1912
(Conductor: Richard Strauss)
Vienna Premiere,
4 October 1916
(revised version)
(Conductor: Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk was an Austrian conductor. From 1918 to 1929 he was director of the Vienna State Opera, a post he held jointly with Richard Strauss from 1919 to 1924. Later, Schalk was involved in the establishment of the Salzburg Festival.-Biography:Schalk was born in Vienna, Austria, where he later...

Prologue Opera
The prima donna Ariadne soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

Maria Jeritza
Maria Jeritza
Maria Jeritza , born Marie Jedličková, was a celebrated Moravian soprano singer, long associated with the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera...

Maria Jeritza
The tenor Bacchus tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

Herman Jadlowker
Herman Jadlowker
Herman Jadlowker was a leading Latvian-born tenor of Russian nationality who enjoyed an important international career during the first quarter of the 20th century....

Béla von Környey
Zerbinetta soprano Margarethe Siems
Margarethe Siems
Margarethe Siems was a German operatic soprano and voice teacher. A Kammersängerin of the Dresden State Opera, between 1909 and 1912 Siems created leading roles in three operas by Richard Strauss: Chrysothemis in Elektra, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf...

Selma Kurz
Selma Kurz
Selma Kurz was an Austrian operatic soprano known for her brilliant coloratura technique.-Background:...

Harlequin, a player baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Albin Swoboda, Jr.
Albin Swoboda, Jr.
Albin Swoboda, Jr. was a German operatic bass-baritone. Born in Dresden, he was the son of tenor and actor Albin Swoboda, Sr. and soprano Friederike Fischer; both of whom were luminaries of the "Golden Age" of Viennese operetta. His grandfather Joseph Wilhelm Swoboda also had an important career...

Hans Duhan
Scaramuccio, a player tenor Georg Maeder Hermann Gallos
Truffaldino, a player bass Reinhold Fritz Julius Betetto
Brighella, a player tenor Franz Schwerdt Adolph Nemeth
The composer soprano Lotte Lehmann
Lotte Lehmann
Charlotte "Lotte" Lehmann was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier was considered her greatest...

, replacing
Marie Gutheil-Schoder
Marie Gutheil-Schoder
Marie Gutheil-Schoder was one of the most important German sopranos of her day.Born Marie Schoder, in 1899 she married Gustav Gutheil, with whom she lived until his death in 1914....

His music master baritone Hans Duhan
The dancing master tenor Georg Maikl
A wigmaker baritone Gerhard Stehmann
A lackey bass Viktor Madin
An officer tenor Anton Arnold
The Major-Domo spoken Anton August Stoll
Naiad, a nymph high soprano M. Junker-Burchardt Charlotte Dahmen
Dryad, a nymph contralto
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...

Sigrid Onégin
Sigrid Onégin
Sigrid Onégin was a Franco-German operatic contralto who enjoyed a major international career prior to World War II . She was born in Stockholm, Sweden to a German father and a French mother....

Hermine Kittel
Echo, a nymph soprano Erna Ellmenreich Carola Jovanovic



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 an evening of music 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, points out that his pay depends on accepting the situation, and 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 , in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, the Sun-titan. She aided Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and was the bride of the god Dionysus.-Minos and Theseus:...

 is shown abandoned by Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

 on the island of Naxos
Naxos (island)
Naxos is a Greek island, the largest island in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture....

, bewailing her fate, as she mourns her lost love and longs for death. Zerbinetta and her four companions from the burlesque group enter and attempt to cheer Ariadne by singing and dancing, but without success. In a sustained and dazzling piece of coloratura
Coloratura has several meanings. The word is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare . When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and...

 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
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

, Dryad
Dryads are tree nymphs in Greek mythology. In Greek drys signifies 'oak,' from an Indo-European root *derew- 'tree' or 'wood'. Thus Dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees, though the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general...

, and Echo
Echo (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ekho , "echo", itself from ἦχος , "sound") was an Oread who loved her own voice. Zeus loved consorting with beautiful nymphs and visited them on Earth often. Eventually, Zeus's wife, Hera, became suspicious, and came from Mt...

—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
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 who is under the spell of the sorceress Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

. 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. The opera then ends with the passionate singing of Ariadne and Bacchus.


  • Woodwind
    Woodwind instrument
    A woodwind instrument is a musical instrument which produces sound when the player blows air against a sharp edge or through a reed, causing the air within its resonator to vibrate...

    : 2 flute
    Western concert flute
    The Western concert flute is a transverse woodwind instrument made of metal or wood. It is the most common variant of the flute. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist, flutist, or flute player....

    s (alternating on piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

    s), 2 oboe
    The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

    s, 2 clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

    s, 2 bassoon
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  • Brass
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    :: 2 horns, trumpet
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    : timpani
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    , glockenspiel
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    , tambourine
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Differences between 1912 and 1916 versions

1912 version 1916 version
Opera is preceded by Der Bürger als Edelmann, Hofmannsthal's translation of Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, with incidental music by Strauss; "Du Venus' Sohn" is sung by an unnamed singer Opera is preceded by Prologue; the only music retained from Der Bürger als Edelmann is "Du Venus' Sohn" which is sung by the Composer
Jourdain interjects various spoken comments during the opera, particularly during the opening no comments are made during the opera
Grossmächtige Prinzessin: The end of "Noch glaub' ich" (before "So wär es mit Paggliazzo") continues with an instrumental repetition of the tune and ends on a B major chord "Noch glaub' ich" cuts off and ends on an A major chord
Grossmächtige Prinzessin: "So war es mit Pagliazzo" begins in E major "So war es mit Pagliazzo" begins in D major
Grossmächtige Prinzessin: "Als ein Gott kam Jeder gegangen" begins in E major "Als ein Gott kam Jeder gegangen" begins in D major
Grossmächtige Prinzessin: After the 2nd repetition of "Als ein Gott" the aria continues to develop, including a long accompanied cadenza, ending in E major The aria is cut down and ends in D major
After Zerbinetta's "Wie er feurig sich erniedert!" there is a short passage continuing the quartet for her, Brighella, Scaramuccio and Truffaldin beginning with the words "Wie der Druck den Druck erwidert" After Zerbinetta's "Wie er feurig sich erniedert!" she continues "mach ich ihn auf diese neidig"
Before Zerbinetta and Harlekin sing together in octaves "Hand und Lippe, Mund und Hand!" there is a short passage of 8 measures during which Harlekin sings "Wie der Druck den Druck erwidert!" From Zerbinetta's utterance of "Hand und Lippe" sing "ai, ai, ai, ai" and immediately goes into the duet between Zerbinetta and Harlekin
After Zerbinetta and Harlekin sing together in octaves "Hand und Lippe, Mund und Hand!" there are several pages continuing the quartet After Zerbinetta and Harlekin sing together the quartet continues
After Ariadne sings "Die deiner lange harret nimm sie dahin!" Zerbinetta has an aria "Prinzessin! Welchen Boten lohn hab ich verdient?"; Nayad, Dryad, and later Ariadne have interjections during the aria After Ariadne's "Die deiner lange harret nimm sie dahin!" she sees Thesus and cries out his name; there is no aria for Zerbinetta
After Zerbinetta's aria "Prinzessin! Welchen Boten lohn hab ich verdient?" Ariadne has a few lines invoking her mother; thereafter follows an orchestral passage, at the end of which she sees Thesus and cries his name There is no corresponding passage
After the final duet between Ariadne and Bacchus, Zerbinetta returns with an aria combining motives from "Komm der neue Gott gegangen" and "So war's mit Pagliazzo und Mezzetin!"; Harlekin, Truffaldin, Brighella and Scaramuccio eventually join in The opera ends after the Ariadne-Bacchus duet with a big orchestral conclusion
At the end of the Zerbinetta and company's final number, a lackey enters and tells Jourdain that the fireworks are beginning; he reflects on what people think of him and what he sees in himself; the work ends with music associated with Jourdain There is no corresponding passage

External links

  • Synopsis: Metropolitan Opera
  • Boston Public Library on Flickr. Ernst Stern. Ariadne auf Naxos : Oper in einem Aufzuge von Hugo von Hofmannsthal ; Musik von Richard Strauss, zu spielen auf dem "Bürger aus Edelmann" des Molière ; Skizzen für die Kostüme und Dekorationen. (Prints of costumes and sets for the original 1912 production).
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