4 June 2013

Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne

As usual, I knew little about Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos before I went and I am not sure that I know that much more after going.

The opera was chosen by my Dad so we went for reasonably expensive tickets in the Circle rather that our preferred area in the Upper Circle.

I thought that the more expensive seats had a worse view than the cheaper ones that I normally go for. As a rule I find it better to be nearer the front higher up than lower down and further back. I will not be going for those seats again.

Unfortunately Dad was not up to going on the day and we had to substitute Dad-in-Law instead. This required Dad-in-Law to buy a suit on the morning of the opera, this is not exactly the first time that a last-minute purchase has been required.

The opera was very much in two halves and that was very fitting for Glyndebourne where the Long Interval is an integral part of the evening.

The first half did little than set the scene. We were in an English Country House during the War were two shows are due to be performed, one high-brow and one low-brow. Both fight for higher billing as they extol their own performances and belittle those of the other.

The half ends dramatically with a bombing raid that send everybody running for shelter.

After the break we were back in the Country House which had been converted to a make-shift hospital ward to care for those injured during the raid.

There the competition between the two musical camps continued in a way that I found confusing. In the synopsis of the opera it says that the two performances were given as one and that is certainly what happened musically, i.e. the high-brow and low-brow performers sang alternately but they were singing to themselves rather than performing to an audience.

Ignoring any plot allowed me to concentrate on just the music and that was fine because the music was lovely. Strauss knew how to write a tune and there were plenty of long arias to prove the point. It was all very pretty even if it did not make a lot of sense.

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