Superb performances and conducting in an excellent Ariadne
If there is anything that let this Ariadne Auf Naxos down, it was the lip-synching which I often found static and distracting. That aside, there is lots to love about this Ariadne. I am very fond of the opera having seen it in 2008 when I was 16 at the Royal Opera House for the first time and being blown away by it.
The story and the characters are captivating, but it was the magnificent music that has Strauss' superb craftsmanship and distinctive style written all over it. The orchestra perform this score with such musicianship and you can tell Karl Bohm himself worked with Strauss judging by his superior conducting job here.
The costumes are ravishing and the settings picturesque, particularly in the Opera portion though I think the cast are more comfortable in the Vorspiel, and although I can see where people are coming from in regards to the not enough interaction between the cast the camera work is very good. The cast are superb, and I loved the staging and singing of the Nymph's chorus and the harlequin group are delightful.
Rene Kollo is a little stiff as Bacchus, however he does sing very well in a demanding and perhaps thankless part. Trudeliesse Schmidt, the least-known cast member is very impressive as the Composer, Walter Berry is a delight as the Music Master and I loved how wonderfully sarcastic Erich Kunz's Major-Domo was. Gundula Janowitz is a superb Ariadne, I find her voice appeals to me a little more than Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, though I did love Schwarzkopf and what she did with the role.
My favourite performance? Easily Edita Gruberova, who not only nails her big aria but also the difficult part of Zerbinetta. In fact this is my personal favourite performance of Gruberova's vocally, and along with Kunz and Berry she is one of the more animated members of the cast.
In conclusion, an overall excellent Ariadne, while the lip-synching could've been better, the music, conducting and performances make it a real treat. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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