On Sunday 8th at 4pm we have Richard Strauss’s ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (2h20mins) in a classic performance from The Met starring Jessye Norman, James King, Kathleen Battle and Tatiana Troyanos.
‘’ Ariadne Auf Naxos is Richard Strauss' scintillating foray into the world of neo-classicism. The brilliant innovations of Salome and Elektra were history, and here, Strauss luxuriated in the beauty of sound as an end in itself. Employing a chamber orchestra of 36 pieces with all the fluency of an master, he, and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, conjure a delightful two-part opera consisting of a Prologue, which is mostly sung in recitative, and a full-scale operetta boasting some of the most delectable melodies and set-pieces to be found in all opera. Jessye Norman is wonderful as the forlorn and abandoned Ariadne. Kathleen Battle is superb as Zerbinetta, tackling "Grossmachtige Prinzessin" - a virtuoso aria that is to the coloratura soprano what Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto is to the pianist - with a deceptively cavalier aplomb and grace. The rest of the MET cast is a delight. The sets are simple and straightforward, as befits this "play within a play." This is a wonderful performance of an enchanting opera.’’
‘’ Amazing singing from the ladies - Norman, Troyanos (in the Prologue) and Battle. Norman's sheer power is breathtaking. Orchestral contribution is excellent, though probably overblown (this is supposed to be a chamber opera, after all). James Levine seems very much at home, and directs proceedings admirably. The demands for poor Bacchus are huge, but an ageing King copes pretty well - if somewhat eclipsed by Norman in the final duet. If he sounds a little inebriated at times, perhaps this is appropriate for a Bacchus? Zerbinetta as a role holds no terrors for the wonderful Kathleen Battle. Altogether a lovely performance, with female singers fully up to the task. It's not usual for the Prologue to make a great musical impact, its purpose being, rather, expository, to cover the misunderstanding between Strauss and von Hofmannsthal. However, Troyanos raises the roof.
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