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(Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos). Sop. (or mez.). Travesti role. Pupil of the Music Master, he has written Ariadne auf Naxos, an opera seria, to be performed after dinner for the guests of one of the richest men in Vienna. The host's Major‐Domo announces that the opera will be followed by the commedia dell'arte troupe's entertainment. This horrifies the Music Master—how can serious art be followed by such vulgar buffoonery? The Major‐Domo points out that his master is paying for the opera, and will therefore decide how it will be performed. The Composer is already upset—he has learned that the musicians who are to play his music are currently playing for the guests as they dine, so he is unable to talk to them, the Prima Donna refuses to rehearse her role as Ariadne, and the Tenor needs to have it drummed into him that Bacchus is a god, not a ‘conceited clown’. He sees Zerbinetta, leader of the comedians, and finds her most attractive—until he is told that her act will follow his opera. He is shocked when the Dancing Master suggests that as parts of the opera are dull and boring, his troupe will liven things up and keep the audience awake. The Composer's instinct is to withdraw his opera altogether, but he is convinced by his teacher that it is better to have it produced, albeit mutilated, than not performed at all. So he sets about cutting his masterpiece, prompted by the Tenor and the Prima Donna, each suggesting that the other's part is the one which needs reducing. Zerbinetta, overhearing the Composer discussing how Ariadne, deserted by her lover, will welcome death, explains to him that women are not like that—not even Ariadne. She will convince her that life must be lived, and if deserted by one lover, the answer is to find another. But for the Composer, music is a holy art and, as the entertainment is about to begin, he leaves the stage in despair, wishing he had not allowed his opera to be used in this way. Arias: Du, Venus’ Sohn (‘You, Venus‐son’); Musik ist eine heilige Kunst (‘Music is a holy art’). In the 1st vers. of the opera, the Composer (spoken) appears only briefly in the linking‐scene. In the 2nd vers., ‘he’ is on the stage for about 40 minutes, and singing for only half that time, but this role has nevertheless become a favourite with Strauss sopranos. Created (1916) by Lotte Lehmann (who later graduated to Ariadne), and sung memorably by Irmgard Seefried, Christa Ludwig, Sena Jurinac, Trudeliese Schmidt, Tatyana Troyanos, Ann Murray, Maria Ewing, Angelika Kirchschlager, and Sophie Koch. See also article by Sena Jurinac.

Subjects: Opera.

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