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Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos







Iride Martinez, Susan Anthony, Sophie Koch, Jon Villars
Sächsischen Staatsoper Dresden/Colin Davis

Stage Direction Marco Arturo Marelli
Recording Date: 1999, Semper Opera Dresden

Arthaus Musik (DVD Video) - 100170

We missed this on release a decade ago, and have caught up with it in connection with reviewing the newly released Chandos Opera in English CDs of Ariadne on Naxos.

The publicity presentation by Arthaus (featuring a brief moment in which Zerbinetta's troupe of companions don pigs masks) is so crass that I have preferred to give you a look at the set in which the show is given as an after dinner entertainment for Vienna's richest man's guests, who gravitate around her like moths attracted to light. It gives a good idea how such an event might have happened in Strauss's day and, by extension, in Moliere's time...

Our illustrations are taken from a video extract featuring Zerbinetta on You-Tube, which has latterly transformed internet-reviewing; a few pictures worth hundreds of words...

Marelli's updating is totally successful, as is the musical realisation, conducted by Colin Davis with a dream cast. Iride Martinez's Zerbinetta is the real star, holding centre of attention whenever she is present. Her worldy philosophy upstages the theatrical misery of Susan Anthony's Ariadne, rescued finally by the imposing Jon Villars, god-like in stature and heroic tenor. Sophie Koch perfectly characterises a young, insecure composer beholden to wealthy sponsors for an opportunity which turns into a nightmare.

I have found three reviews to help you decide whether to purchase. Opera Japonica's Michael Richter (a tough opera critic !) has many strictures, but in 2003 recommended it as "a worthy second choice". Amazon has two ecstatic five-star reader reviews which closely reflect our delight in this version.

Don't miss it !

Peter Grahame Woolf