18, 24, 29 June 2023
1, 6, 14, 19, 21 July 2023
Start time: 6.20pm
End time: c.10.05pm
An opera of two halves? A comedy of two halves? Or both at once. That’s what is proposed by ‘the richest man in Vienna’, who has commissioned two entertainments, one from a serious opera composer and one from a troupe of comedians. When he discovers that sitting through both separately would delay the firework display he has planned, he gives orders for the two shows to be performed simultaneously on the same stage. The earnest young Composer is horrified while the pragmatic Zerbinetta is happy to give it a go.
As a result, the story of Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos and despairing of her lost love, is interrupted repeatedly by the comedians, keen to help and to advise her that the best way to cure a broken heart is to find another lover.
The dream team of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal came up with this eccentric idea after quite a few rewrites. The combination strikes at the heart of what music and drama mean with a lightness of touch and lustrously sumptuous music.
Sung in German with English supertitles