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Music: Ariadne Auf Naxos by Richard Strauss performed by the New York Opera Forum


July 26, 2014

The operatic team of composer Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo Von Hofmannsthal boldly mixed musical and literary traditions in their one-act opera Ariadne auf Naxos. The opera was originally intended to follow a performance of Molière's comedy-ballet The Bourgeois Gentleman (1670), with incidental music by Strauss, and it was first performed in this form in Stuttgart on Oct. 25, 1912, with the composer conducting. The impracticality of engaging both an acting company and a singing one for the same performance caused the authors to split the opera off from Molière's comedy, substituting a staged prelude for the play. The premiere of this  version took place at the Court Opera in Vienna on Oct. 4, 1916, with Franz Schalk conducting. In the prelude Molière's nouveau-riche "gentleman" sends word that he wants an opera on Greek myths and a commedia dell'arte farce performed simultaneously, to get them both over with quickly. This is the occasion for much interplay in the opera between noble Ariadne, abandoned on an island and longing for death, and the comedians, especially the saucy Zerbinetta. The character called the Composer is exasperated by this situation but finds solace in his love of music.

 Wright, David. "Ariadne auf Naxos." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2014. Web. 26 June 2014.


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