Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ariadne Auf Naxos – Zürich 2006 (Part 1: Is this the real life?)

 “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? 
Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality…”
- Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

I keep trying to write my review of the 2006 Zürich Opera performance of Ariadne auf Naxos (staged by Claus Guth). But my notes continue to be no more than a series of questions. Questions are good, but I am not sure a list of questions actually constitues a review. Though now that I think if it, that could be a great new approach...or not.

Right now I think the entire opera takes place in the Composer's head. But that could be a cop-out on my part (sort of like the classic "it was all a dream" scenario). It's clear that the Prologue is taking place somewhere not quite real.  OK, not real at all. 

The Prologue is highly stylized.
Is it all taking place in the Composer's mind?

The opera is about obsession and conviction.  Ariadne and Zerbinetta (or "Women: A to Z"?) are more alike than they want to believe. Ariadne is the "one in a million" woman who is devoted obsessively to just one man. Zerbinetta is the "coquette" who obsessively moves from man to man. In this performance, they each seem to see merit in the other's point of view, but ultimately neither one changes her mind.
The Composer also has convictions, and obsessions; and in this production, his manic-depressive tendencies are played up. He is so impulsive, he shoots himself at the end of the Prologue...

...or does he?

All right, I sense the review is starting to come together. I will take a few more days to ponder the meaning of the opera, as well as the meaning of the production. Meanwhile, here are a few actual thoughts about the performance of the music (What a concept! an opera review that talks about the singing!!)
  • Emily Magee (Ariadne) – warm, rich, solid voice, but not too heavy. wonderful line
  • Elena Moşuc (Zerbinetta) – light, bright, fluid, agile, fun
  • Michelle Breedt (Composer) – full, but not too dark voice (this is a soprano role) Like Sophie Koch, she is more convicing as a young man than most mezzos.
  • Michael Volle (Musiklehrer) –  rich strong performance. I have never been less than impressed with his voice. Even as Dr. Schön  in Lulu.
  • Roberto Saccà (Bacchus) – This is a tenor who can actually sing the role (Strauss famously disliked tenors!) He has a good line and handles all those high flying vocal lines with little-to-no discernible effort.

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