Is this Salzburg performance my favourite Ariadne Auf Naxos? No, not quite. The 1965 Karl Bohm-conducted performance is my personal favourite, and the Deborah Voight Met and 1988 Met productions as well as the 1978 Gotz Friederich film are also highly recommended. What didn't I like so much about this production. Actually not that much. The sets for me were a little too sparse and bland in colour, I do prefer a more enchanting and more mystical approach. The costumes are not bad though, they do flatter the singers and are not ugly, again maybe a more mystical approach was preferred. The orchestral playing is marvellous, the legato lines and soaring melodies are played beautifully, the oboe in the final duet was particularly lovely and the strings are lush and delicate. The conducting from Christoph von Dohnanyi is solid, intelligently phrased and musical, though a couple of the tempos are a little too swift for my liking. The singing is just wonderful. Deborah Polaski doesn't have the most beautiful voice, but has a lot of power and uses it with care. Her Prima Donna is characterful and her Ariadne is very moving. Jon Villars is rather a stand and sing sort of actor, though for a role as thankless as Bacchus this is not unusual, but his voice with its golden tone and ringing top notes is in great shape. Natalie Dessay sings thrillingly as Zerbinetta and her physical acting and fun presence makes her performance just as much from a dramatic standpoint also. Susan Graham is a firm and very poignant Composer, while Diana Damrau and Alice Coote are also very appealing. John Brocheler is a characterful Music Master, and Martina Jankova, Franz-Josef Selig and Russell Braun give solid performances. In conclusion, a good production elevated especially by the wonderful singing. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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