Ariadne on Naxos

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June 2023
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Two in one - this well-known slogan can also describe an opera that was the fruit of so many debates and revisions by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. A magnificent opera seria with a mythological subject and the playful humour of the commedia dellarte are juxtaposed in this work of art when the invisible host of a social gathering in Vienna, which serves as the frame of the plot, decides to save time and entertain the guests with the simultaneous performance of the two pieces he ordered for the evening. There is the desperate young composer, the whimsical prima donna and the similarly capricious tenor, a majestically straightforward Major-Domo and a whole troupe of comedians in the prologue, and the two genres are merged in a wonderful and yet strange way in the festive performance. Ariade, who has been abandoned maliciously and even marooned on the island of Naxos, and the god Bacchus meet and fall in love amidst the playful intermezzos and interjections of the comedians. The most important of their comments reflecting their positive attitude to life is sung by the favourite of the joyful company, Zerbinetta, to the despairing Cretan princess famous for her string: her long and comforting solo is one of the most difficult coloratura arias of operatic literature. Strausss opera, which is excellent in every detail and, at the same time, rewarding, now returns to the stage of the Opera after four decades. 

 

Opera in one act with prologue, in German with Hungarian and English surtitles.

Program and cast

Conductor

Major-Domo

Balázs Csémy

Music Master

Zoltán Kelemen

Componist

Dorottya Láng

Tenor – Bacchus

István Kovácsházi

Dancing Master

Zoltán Megyesi

Wigmaker

Róbert Rezsnyák

A Footman

Bence Pataki

Zerbinetta

Zita Szemere

Prima Donna – Ariadne

Tünde Szabóki

Harlequin

Csaba Szegedi

Scaramuccio

Boldizsár László

Truffaldin

Krisztián Cser

Brighella

István Horváth

Naiad

Zita Váradi

Dryad

Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz

Echo

Officer

Hungarian State Opera

The Opera House is not only one of the most significant art relic of Budapest, but the symbol of the Hungarian operatic tradition of more than three hundred years as well. The long-awaited moment in Hungarian opera life arrived on September 27, 1884, when, in the presence of Franz Joseph I. the Opera House was opened amid great pomp and ceremony. The event, however, erupted into a small scandal - the curious crowd broke into the entrance hall and overran the security guards in order to catch a glimpse of the splendid Palace on Sugar út. Designed by Mikós Ybl, a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture, the construction lived up to the highest expectations. Ornamentation included paintings and sculptures by leading figures of Hungarian art of the time: Károly Lotz, Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Alajos Stróbl. The great bronze chandelier from Mainz and the stage machinery moda by the Asphaleia company of Vienna were both considered as cutting-edge technology at that time.

 

Many important artists were guests here including Gustav Mahler, the composer who was director in Budapest from 1887 to 1891. He founded the international prestige of the institution, performing Wagner operas as well as Magcagni’ Cavalleria Rusticana. The Hungarian State Opera has always maintained high professional standards, inviting international stars like Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Monserrat Caballé, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Cura, Thomas Hampson and Juan Diego Flórez to perform on its stage. The Hungarian cast include outstanding and renowed artists like Éva Marton, Ilona Tokody, Andrea Rost, Dénes Gulyás, Attila Fekete and Gábor Bretz.

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