Monday, January 10, 2011

Ariadne auf Naxos in Paris

Ariadne auf Naxos, Opéra National de Paris (Bastille), December 22 2010

Philippe Jordan ..... Conductor
Laurent Pelly ..... Staging and costumes

Franz Mazura ..... Der Haushofmeister
Martin Gantner ..... Ein Musiklehrer
Sophie Koch ..... Der Komponist
Stefan Vinke ..... Der Tenor (Bacchus)
Xavier Mas ..... Ein Tanzmeister
Vladimir Kapshuk ..... Ein Perückenmacher
Jane Archibald ..... Zerbinetta
Ricarda Merbeth ..... Primadonna (Ariadne)
Elena Tsallagova ..... Najade
Diana Axentii ..... Dryade
Yun Jung Choi ..... Echo
Edwin Crossley-Mercer ..... Harlekin
François Piolino ..... Scaramuccio
François Lis ..... Truffaldino
Michael Laurenz ..... Müller Brighella

Paris Opera Orchestra

This production by Laurent Pelly became famous 7 years ago --when it was premiered at Opéra Garnier in Paris--  for two reasons: (1) its straightforward translation to our time with a fine work of the director in keeping the action on stage alive from the get go until the very end of the show, and (2) Natalie Dessay sang one of her best Zerbinetta's. Today we knew Pelly would be back to work with the cast singers/actors, but the fear was if Jane Archibald (who replaced baby-busy Diana Damrau) could be as good as Zerbinetta.

Now when this run of Pelly's Ariadne is over, I can say that Jane Archibald is that new gem who is vocally perfectly at ease with the role, who fills up easily a huge auditorium (such as the one at Opéra Bastille), and who is scenically brilliant too. I see she will be singing the same role in the excellent Robert Carsen's production of this opera in Munich, and that is good news for the folks over there who were spoiled by the superb Zerbinetta sung by Diana Damrau in the previous run of the show. What I particularly liked about her acting was that she was not trying to impersonate Natalie Dessay, but she took the role and played it as if it was her own. Brava!

Sophie Koch was brilliant as ever. This repertoire of Strauss' operas is definitely her turf, which she only confirmed in this show. Her voice seems to be bigger than before, it is warm, expressive, and she still nails all the high notes easily. Scenically this is maybe the best of her pants roles. 

Ricarda Merbeth completed a fantastic trio of principal singers in this show. I like her big voice in any of the Strauss roles. Her voice sounds better live then on recordings, and her endurance is always astonishing.

Stefan Vinke was fine to me, but not to everyone in public that night. The crowd felt like booing someone and it was him who soaked a few boos (apparently much less than after the premiere).  Among the smaller roles, Elena TsallagovaEdwin Crossley-Mercer, François Piolino were particularly brilliant in an otherwise high quality homogeneous cast.

The idea of Pelly's is simple. It all happens in our days. Ariadne is all depressed living like a homeless person in an abandoned building in construction on the island of Naxos -- Greece today. The Italian crew is coming with Zerbinetta as a bunch of tourists happy to hit the beach, and the old known story works very well (synopsis here.) That simplicity would not be so efficient if it was not accompanied by a very fine director's work with actors. When it comes to staging a comedy, Laurent Pelly is one of the best in business.

Some more CC pics:

Jane Archibald
Sophie Koch

Jane Archibald, maestro Philippe Jordan, and Ricarda Merbeth

Edwin Crossley-Mercer

Diana Axentii, Jun Yung Choi, Elena Tsallagova

and 4 videos from the previous run of this show in 2003:

2 with Sophie Koch


 and Grossmächtige Prinzesin by Natalie Dessay (in 2 parts)




  1. A DVD is going to be produced of this latest version of Ariadne auf Naxos. I have no idea when it is to be coming out.

  2. That's good news. Thanks for the heads up ;)

  3. Are you going to see Robert Carsen's version of Ariadne in Muc? Apparantly it is very very good, says everybody who as seen it. I missed it each time by a mere month, both when moving to Munich and when moving away from it ... It is also shown in Berlin sometime in April or so.

  4. Hi there! I saw that show during the Festival in Munich 2009. Carsen's shows are sometimes great and sometimes patchy. That Ariadne is an example of his successful shows. Plus Diana Damrau sang Zerbinetta there and was unbelievable [you'll see how hard is on Zerbinetta to act during the Grossmaechtige Prinzesin].

  5. Ah. You'd probably end up on the Nr. 1 spot in that book of records for performances seen :). Although Likely Impossibilites is also fairly active at the moment.
    Myself, I like to see what I like 3 or so times, so that means I have less variety on my numbers (the stuff has to be payed for after all).

  6. Au cours d'un voyage à Weimar le 11 septembre dernier, j'ai eu le privilège d'assister au récital de clôture du Festival donné par Edwin Crossley-Mercer avec le Staatskapelle Orchestre dirigé par Sir Roger Norrington d'un cycle de 14 Lieder du compositeur suisse, Othmar Schoeck, sur les paroles de Gottfried Keller, qui s'appelle "Lebendig Begraben" ("Enterré Vivant"). Ce fut un étourdissant tour de force, d'autant plus que la partition fut chantée à merveille le baryton franco-irlandais, telle qu'elle avait été écrite. A ma connaissance l'enregistrement de Fischer Dieskau, qui avait dû "adapter" le cycle à sa tessiture, remonte à 1962, mais Dieskau ne l'a jamais chanté sur scène. Le public, la presse et Madame Nike Wagner ne se sont pas trompés dans leurs éloges. Je répète que ce chanteur n'a pas fini de nous épater. L'auditoire était pour le moins "begeistert und bewundert". Le 13 septembre, Deutschlandradio Kultur a transmis le récital en direct à 20:03, après le nouvelles - une sensation et une fierté sans précédent pour la France et l'Irlande.