Not the most ideal staging in the world but the singing and music are absolutely wonderful
Ariadne Auf Naxos over-time has become one of my favourite Strauss operas alongside Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra and Salome. This Ariadne is not the best I've seen, I do prefer the Janowitz, Norman and Voight DVDs myself, finding the production values much more appealing with more beautiful sets and costumes that don't take us out of the setting(just when here are we ever going to be rid of the long overcoat cliché?). The staging can be a form of annoyance, most of the time it is witty and moving but the slow-motion posturing in the party scene and gratuitous walk-ons can get tiring after a while. However, the music is some of Strauss' very best, and as you'd expect the orchestra do do justice to the long soaring lines as does Davis' conducting. The singing is just as wonderful. Susan Anthony as Ariadne shows no signs of a wobble or harshness, the silvery clarity(reminding one slightly of Janowitz) is all very warm and beautiful. Her acting is also commanding. Jon Villars is a little stolid, then again what do you expect in a somewhat thankless role like Bacchus and with his ridiculous costume, but his top notes ring and the tone generally spins like gold. There is also a fantastic Zerbinetta courtesy of Iride Martinez, amusing with dazzling colouratura, and a moving assumption of the Composer from Sophie Koch. Zerbinetta's fellow conspirators are also charming, and despite a slightly unsettled start the nymphs won me over. Friederich Wilhelm Junge is delightful in the non-singing role of the MajorDomo, and while Theo Adam is well past his best he was nice to see as the Music Master. The sound, video and picture quality are fine. Overall, not everybody will be enthused by the staging and production values but the singing and musical values are so outstanding I found myself liking this Ariadne a lot. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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