Cher Public

Female on the beach

Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos started life as a favor to the great theatrical producer Max Reinhardt who had saved the world premiere of Der Rosenkavalier in Dresden in 1911. Reinhardt was now being given his choice of a musical/theatre piece to revive for the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. His choice would be Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme with Hugo Von Hofmannsthal providing the new adaptation of the text and Strauss contributing incidental music in the manner of Lully and a final divertissement on the classical Ariadne.

Our musical history books show us that this exciting new hybrid entertainment eventually happened at the Stuttgart Court Theatre ballooning into a nearly five hour performance that left the audience, who were there mostly for their Strauss, in a state of benumbed frustration.  Even with judicious cutting in a number of other venues, including London under Sir Thomas Beecham, this version never found success. Read more »

Wer nicht mit dem Woolfe heult

Zachary Woolfe (not pictured) makes his way to Bayreuth to try to unravel the Evgeny Nikitin mystery. Though many questions remain unanswered, it’s still a compelling read. (Don’t miss the Christian Thielemann pullquote near the end!) [New York Times]

She wants to be a primadonna

On Saturday I attended the premiere performance of a new production of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany.  It was Renée Fleming’s debut in the title role, and this three-performance run is the only plan she currently has to perform it.

I have a high opinion of Fleming, especially in Strauss.  There are historical reasons for this, and they begin with a 1995 performance of Rosenkavalier at the Houston Grand Opera, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and starring Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, and Suzanne Mentzer.  It was my first Strauss opera and the first time I had heard any of these singers live.   Read more »