Ariadne auf Naxos

The new leadership of Opera Colorado has taken a bold and notable leap forward with its current production of Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, one of the great operas of the 20th Century. Combining classical tragedy with commedia dell'arte and two contrasting approaches to love in its heroines, Ariadne auf Naxos presents a full range of life-defining emotions.

Framed as an opera within an opera, Ariadne's story is that of a jilted Greek maiden of myth, who laments the loss of her lover Theseus on the desert island of Naxos. In a storyline inspired by Moliere's Le Bourgeoise Gentilhomme, the composer's benefactor demands that the opera seria (serious or tragic opera) be performed simultaneously with an opera buffo (comedic opera). This, of course, outrages the composer and thrills the comedians.

Christine Brewer as Ariadne is epic in stature and voice, filling the role with dignity and transcendental emotion. Lynette Tapia charms us as the zesty Zerbinetta, then effortlessly glides through her showcase coloratura, leaving us breathless. Ashley Putnam is winsome and in fine voice in the trousers role of The Composer, and Ian DeNolfo's tenor shows great promise as Bacchus.

Behind all this fine work is the consummate conducting of Klauspeter Seibel who evokes a masterful performance from the Colorado Symphony. To top it off, Allen Moyer's set design delightfully solves the problem of turning Boettcher Concert Hall into a three-quarters thrust stage. Bravo!

Opera Colorado's Ariadne auf Naxos completes its run with performances this Friday night (5/4) and Sunday afternoon (5/6). 303-893-4100.


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