A true festival miracle! Where else could you experience a barely known original version of Ariadne auf Naxos performed to such a high artistic standard? This Urfassung is being celebrated here as a homage to the three founding fathers of the festival. It was the wish of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal that the work, which they dedicated to their artistic friend Max Reinhardt, should be a celebration of the performing arts: ballet, theatre and opera. Written immediately after the great success of Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos was a combination of mythological opera and Molière’s drama Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, though Strauss expunged all trace of the latter in his second version of 1916. To mark the centenary of the first version, a sensational project has created a daring production fulfilling the composer’s original dream of a “Gesamtkunstwerk”.

In the beginning, theatre director Sven-Eric Bechtolf presents a virtuoso collage made up of Hofmannsthal’s letters, the play’s text and insertions of details from Hofmannsthal’s autobiographical
relationship with the young, inconsolable widow Ottonie von Degenfeld-Schonburg. By employing this clever framework, he introduces two new protagonists into the play as well as transforming them as parallel figures to Bacchus and Ariadne in the opera. The two elements of the work, comedic play and music theatre, which had previously often seemed unconnected, now come together as a united whole. This new version has been enthusiastically received: perfect in every detail, every gesture is tailored to the speech flow of the play and the music in the opera, the spheres and levels of the
work all come together in harmony, offering emotional depth as well as wonderfully light-hearted entertainment.


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Associated Collections

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Salzburg: Richard Strauss

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Salzburg Festival: operas