A wealthy patron has commissioned a young composer to write a new opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, for a soiree at his mansion. When the opera singers learn that a troupe of local comedians is also scheduled to perform on the same program, everyone wonders how the two shows will work together as one evening’s entertainment, especially when they learn the two works will have to be performed simultaneously. The composer's new opera depicts the plight of the mythological Ariadne, abandoned on the island of Naxos. Zerbinetta and her commedia dell'arte cohorts attempt to amuse the mournful Ariadne. When her nymphs finally announce the arrival of the god Bacchus, Ariadne is transformed by his love. And despite the odd permutation of his work, the composer is transfigured by the power of his own music.
Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera within an opera, a show within a show not unlike the musical Kiss Me, Kate, the play Noises Off, or the TV show Smash,” explained Lister. “We see behind-the-scenes as singers in a mythological opera seria are forced to perform simultaneously with a commedia dell’arte troupe. It’s ‘high art’ vs. ‘low art’ as diva and clown must collaborate. Amid this absurdity, the sublime music of Strauss runs the gamut from the fiendish vocal fireworks of Zerbinetta’s 15-minute aria, to the ethereal Nymph trios and the quasi-Wagnerian duet between Bacchus and Ariadne.”
“In the words of Strauss himself, ‘The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but the most difficult to play.’ And his opera Ariadne is a glorious showcase of vocal facility and beauty. May you revel in the “süße Stimme” or sweet voice of Strauss as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth with this UNLV Opera Theater production.”