Season & Tickets

Ariadne auf Naxos

A Young Artists Program Production

Synopsis

Prologue

The richest man in town has commissioned a gifted young Composer to write a new opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, which will be presented this evening for the entertainment of his guests. Preparations are under way as the opera singers discover to their consternation that a troupe of local hipster comedians is also scheduled to perform on the same program. How will the two shows possibly work together as one evening’s entertainment? Everyone’s confusion increases when they receive the news that since fireworks are set to go off at precisely nine o’clock that night, the two performances will have to take place simultaneously in order to save time. At first despairing of ever being able to present the opera as conceived, the Composer is eventually convinced by Zerbinetta, the free-thinking leader of the comedians, that all will be well. The Composer falls under her spell and, believing that music will always reign supreme, agrees to the proposed union of the two performances.

Opera

As the opera begins, three nymphs—Naiad, Dryad, and Echo—sing of the sorrow of Ariadne, who has been abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus. He brought her there after she helped him defeat the Minotaur at her father King Minos’s palace on Crete. Ariadne mourns her fate. Zerbinetta and her colleagues, notably Harlequin, try in vain to amuse Ariadne. Ariadne has loved one man and one man alone, and now that he has abandoned her, she can hope only for death. Zerbinetta urges her to forget the ex and find another lover. She sings at length about her own experiences with men—she loves them and leaves them, and another always shows up, each seeming like a god at first blush. Ariadne remains steadfastly miserable until the nymphs announce the arrival of the youthful god Bacchus, fresh from his dalliance with the enchantress Circe. Ariadne persists in believing that he is the messenger of death, come to free her. He agrees that he will transform her, but through love, not death. In their final duet, Ariadne sings of her wonder at the change occurring within her, while Bacchus assures her of his devotion. Zerbinetta points out that “a new god” has indeed come, just as she predicted. A wondrous transformation has occurred through the power of music.

Young Artists Program
206-389-7680, ext. 1310
young.artists@seattleopera.org

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Photo Credit

Young Artists Program Production of Ariadne auf Naxos © Chris Bennion photos