I really went for one, well maybe three, reasons.
One: Susan Graham. I just enjoy her voice. Her composer was all I expected.
I have heard/seen her so many times I lost count, but every time I feel soothed, and filled with warmth by that unexplainable quality she has - it is subjective of course!
Two: wondering how Dolgov (seen in Tosca and liked) and Goerke (seen as Ortrud for which did not care much, then) would sound. I honestly admit, I was blown away by Christine Goerke's Ariadne.
Even though her strong big steely voice is still not my cup of tea, her presentation was superb!
Alexey Dolgov was a more than adequate Bacchus. But at times seemed to strain to keep his own in duets with Gorke's overpowering Ariadne.
Three: Laura Claycomb: a saucy Zerbinetta with incredible vocal and physical agility, high notes, and enormous breathcontrol. I have seen her sing Handel (and like her rather much in either opera), as Verdi's Gilda (sososo-I know that it not what most thought) as Donizetti's Lucia (she did wow me with that).
The smaller roles were filled with youthful enthusiasm and pleasant voices by current (Wheeler, Deonarine, Martin, Dyakov, Peake, Touhy) and ex-Studio (Kolbet) members, and other comprimario singers.
The last two times I saw Ariadne, I was underwhelmed and - I admit it - bored by less than inspired conducting, less then adequate singing (truly I don' t even remember who sang - either time),
and a blah staging and sets. Static sets, boring staging! No sign of the theater within the theater concept..
Neither flashy nortrashy staging! What more need I say.
So, maybe this production had its flaws, very minor ones but overall I like the (is camp the right word?) staging, sets and costumes. They seem traditional, but then this is one opera where traditional (though camp) works for me - LOL!.
I am rather tired of some over the top 'modern' productions in which the directors' will takes precedence over the composers' musical ideas and moods!
So, call me an old foggy!
I don't care.
I liked this production, especially the end..why chandeliers? Why not-it seems a fitting starry end ;-0!
I liked the theater within an old private housetheater concept.
I liked the onstage set changes and machinery as may have been used way back then!
Liked the 'campy' Echo in the cloud...sung by Brittany Wheeler.
Liked the way Summers coaxed dulcet but also powerful tones from the orchestra.
It's probably only due to having been brought up with the sound of the Vienna Philharmoniker playing Strauss, that the strings seem to miss something, that something that the Vienna Philharmoniker seem to do so well! Did my ears deceive me, or did I hear a note or two from Brahms Lullaby?
Well, never mind. Strauss took it and composed his variations and they did sound lovely, as did the frquent small waltz like movements.
And then Hugo von Hoffmansthal brought some of that kind of Galgenhumor the Viennese excel in, to the libretto and contents. In the 'funny' parts AND the solemn ones.
After all, Ariadne sees Bacchus (god of Wines!!) as the angel of oblivion, to help her drown her sorrows!
If that is not a bit of irony/sarcasm, I don't know what is! Don't you?
And not only that, but having the Master of the House via his flunky, the Mayor Domo
(a speaking role -Jon Kolbet) demand that an opera seria be merged with a harlequinade!
BECAUSE he paid money for it - and money talks
(and pays for singers and dancers and entertainers, eh?) is sooo ironic!
A spoof on opera seria, diva and divo allures,
composer's self importance,
the 'heart of gold' of a 'less virtuous than she should be' Zerbinetta!
And so on! So it was then and so it still is, don't you think?
Ah, well.. am I reading too much into it? Perhaps.
If you want to know what goes on in this opera, I'll let you google for it ;-)!
|Goerke and Dolgov|
|Kolbet, Graham, Rosel(dancemaster)|
|Zerbinetta Troupers: Gleadow, Dyakov, Touhy, Peake and Claycomb|