Following his critically acclaimed Rusalka in 2016, director and designer Antony McDonald returns to Scottish Opera with Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, a new co-production with Investec Opera Holland Park.
Brad Cohen, Artistic Director of West Australian Opera, conducts a wealth of international talent. Making her UK debut is American soprano Mardi Byers as Prima Donna/Ariadne. She is joined by Dutch tenor Kor-Jan Dusseljee as Tenor/Bacchus and award-winning Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén as The Composer.
Former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Jennifer France (Flight 2018) returns as Zerbinetta, and is joined by British opera legend Sir Thomas Allen as The Professor of Composition (Music Master), in his first singing role with Scottish Opera since 1981. BBC Radio Scotland’s Jamie MacDougall, recently Sir Harry Lauder in the Company’s special production of the musical play Lauder, is The Producer (Dancing Master). Three Scottish Opera Emerging Artists also feature in this impressive cast: Alex Otterburn (Greek 2017) as Harlequin, Laura Zigmantaite (La traviata 2017) as Dryad and Alexey Gusev (Iolanta 2017) as The Wig Master.
Audiences also have the chance to see renowned actress Eleanor Bron – rumoured to be the inspiration for The Beatles’ classic ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – playing The Party Planner (Major Domo). Star of stage and screen, Bron had roles in Absolutely Fabulous and Alfie and has also regularly appeared on hit BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers.
Set in a large country house, Ariadne auf Naxos tells the story of two troupes of performers who collide in an unfortunate double booking – opera versus burlesque, high ideals against a more ‘carefree’ approach. In the midst of the backstage chaos, the two performing ensembles get some surprising news – to save time the two shows must be performed simultaneously.
Bursting with life, McDonald’s production of Strauss’ playful opera promises plenty of style – and plenty of fun. The Prologue will be sung in English, in a new translation by Helen Cooper, and the Opera sung in the original German.
Antony McDonald said: ‘Ariadne auf Naxos offers audiences so much. In the Prologue, the backstage rivalry between the world of ‘serious’ opera and the world of burlesque and cabaret is brilliantly observed, and the painful process of bringing a new creation into the world is brought to life. Then, in the Opera itself, we see an examination of relationships: the tragic despair of the abandoned Ariadne contrasted with the practical reality of Zerbinetta’s approach to love.’
Brad Cohen said: ‘I am thrilled to be conducting Ariadne auf Naxos for my debut with Scottish Opera – I have wanted to conduct it for 25 years, and my opportunity has come along at last! Ariadne has so much to give us, and works on many levels at once. Apart from the fabulous music, the magnificent set-piece for high soprano, and the subtle comedy, there are deeper themes at play. Underneath everything, it is a portrait of life in an opera house, written by a composer and librettist who were steeped in the skulduggery of Viennese operatic politics. Ariadne is an opera about opera, combining sublime music and wry perception.’
Audiences coming to see Ariadne auf Naxos have the opportunity to enjoy a 15 minute specially composed piece by Samuel Bordoli, Scottish Opera’s Composer in Residence, based on the final pages of Bernard MacLaverty’s novel Grace Notes. With a libretto by MacLaverty himself, Grace Notes will be performed in the Upper Circle Foyer of Theatre Royal, Glasgow and the Milburn Gallery, Edinburgh Festival Theatre at 6.30pm before each performance of Ariadne auf Naxos. Bernard has worked with Scottish Opera twice, on Five:15 – Operas Made in Scotland and on The Elephant Angel with Gareth Williams. Robertson Trust Emerging Artist Catherine Backhouse will sing accompanied by an ensemble of instrumentalists from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, conducted by Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Emerging Artist repetiteur Patrick Milne.
Audiences also have the chance to attend Ariadne auf Naxos Unwrapped, a one-hour taster delving further in to the show and how it was created. Those who are visually impaired can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have live commentary that describes the action on stage without compromising the music.
Theatre Royal Glasgow, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA
Thu 22 Mar, 7.15pm (Grace Notes – 6.30pm)
Sat 24 Mar, 7.15pm (Grace Notes – 6.30pm)
Wed 28 Mar, 7.15pm (Grace Notes – 6.30pm)
Ariadne auf Naxos Unwrapped
Mon 26 Mar, 6pm
Ariadne auf Naxos Pre-show Talk
Sat 24 Mar, 6pm
Ariadne auf Naxos Touch Tour
Wed 28 Mar, 6pm
Ariadne auf Naxos Audio-described performance
Wed 28 Mar, 7.15pm