Berkshire Opera Festival chooses Ariadne auf Naxos for 2017 production

Today the Berkshire Opera Festival announced that their 2017 production will be
ARIADNE AUF NAXOS
by Richard Strauss

Performance Dates:
Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 7:30pm
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 7:30pm
Friday, September 1, 2017 at 7:30pm

at The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA

Approximate running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes with one intermission
Sung in German with projected English translations

Berkshire Opera Festival (BOF) proudly announces its second season, featuring a new production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Performances will be Saturday, August 26; Tuesday, August 29; and Friday, September 1 at 7:30PM at the historic Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. This follows BOF’s triumphant inaugural 2016 season, in which its production of Madama Butterfly debuted to widespread acclaim.

BOF’s General Director Jonathon Loy, who also serves as stage director, remarked, “Brian and I are thrilled with the critical and financial success of Berkshire Opera Festival’s inaugural season, and grateful to everyone who helped us achieve it. We’re delighted in our second season to present Ariadne. Producing it makes good on our founding mission to explore the entire operatic repertoire and to bring less familiar, magnificent pieces to the Berkshire public.” The production is conducted by Artistic Director Brian Garman. “Ariadne accomplishes the very rare feat of being hilariously funny in one moment and breathtakingly beautiful in the next,” Garman said. “Our internationally-acclaimed cast will make this a real treat both for people already familiar with the opera and for those experiencing Strauss for the first time.”

In the title role, BOF’s production will feature in-demand American soprano Marcy Stonikas who is highly in demand in this country and abroad for her performances of the great dramatic soprano repertoire, Tenor Kevin Ray will tackle the demanding role of Bacchus, while Nicole Haslett scales the dazzling heights of the coloratura role Zerbinetta. As the young Composer, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala adds another Strauss role to her wide-ranging repertoire. Filling out the roles of Zerbinetta’s burlesque troupe and Ariadne’s nymphs is a supporting cast of up-and-coming young stars. All performances feature the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra.

BOF’s 2017 season will also include two recitals. The first, entitled Gods and Monsters, highlights the Berkshire Opera Festival Chorus and offers songs and favorite operatic selections on themes of gods and demons. It will also feature the world premiere performance of a new set of songs composed specifically for the occasion. The performance will take place on Tuesday, August 8, at 7:30pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. Gods and Monsters is made possible by a generous gift from Judith Goldsmith. The second program, an assortment of Richard Strauss’s greatest songs for voice and piano, will be presented Wednesday, August 16, at 7:30pm at Ventfort Hall in Lenox.

Ariadne auf Naxos will be sung in German with projected English translations. Tickets are priced from $20 to $98. Tickets to each recital are priced at $30. All tickets will go on sale January 9, 2017. For more information, please visit http://www.berkshireoperafestival.org.

This production of Ariadne auf Naxos is made possible by a generous gift from Adrian and Christine Slywotzky.

Cast:

The Prima Donna / Ariadne               Marcy Stonikas
The Tenor / Bacchus                          Kevin Ray
Zerbinetta                                           Nicole Haslett
The Composer                                   Adriana Zabala
A Music Teacher                                Kyle Pfortmiller
A Dancing Master / Brighella             Spencer Viator
Harlekin                                             Samuel Schultz
Scaramuccio                                      Chris Carr
Truffaldin                                            Colin Ramsey
Najade                                               Jeni Houser
Dryade                                               Vera Savage
Echo                                                  Christine Lyons

Conductor                                          Brian Garman
Stage Director                                   Jonathon Loy
Scenic Designer                                Stephen Dobay
Costume Designer                             Charles Caine
Hair and Make-Up Designer              Beckie Kravetz

Featuring the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra

Synopsis
Ariadne auf Naxos has a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

The action takes place in the present day.

Prologue

A very wealthy man has rented a theater for an evening of entertainment, and two groups of musicians are preparing for their respective performances. One group consists of opera singers hired to perform a newly-composed serious opera called “Ariadne auf Naxos” (“Ariadne on the Island of Naxos”). The other group consists of comedians who will perform an Italian comedy. The producer arrives to announce the order of events. The opera will be performed first, then the comedy, and then fireworks in the garden. An outraged music teacher replies that the opera’s composer — his young student — will never accept that, but the producer is unmoved. The composer enters the room hoping for one last rehearsal, but many of the musicians are still playing at the evening’s dinner. The composer is furious. The opera’s tenor charges out of his dressing room, shouting at the wigmaker, while the prima donna complains about the comedy troupe’s leading lady, Zerbinetta. To complicate matters further, the producer returns and announces that dinner is running long. Both opera and comedy must now be performed simultaneously in order for the fireworks display to begin on time.

Astonished, the performers try to figure out how to pull off this feat. The music teacher encourages the composer to make changes to the opera. Meanwhile, Zerbinetta tells her group about the opera’s plot: Ariadne has just lost her lover, Theseus, and with no hope left, she resigns herself to die. Zerbinetta thinks that Ariadne just needs a new lover. When the composer fiercely disagrees, Zerbinetta begins to flirt with him (duet: Ein Augenblick ist wenig). Suddenly filled with new hope and enthusiasm for his work, the composer quickly writes the new ending to his opera (Sein wir wieder gut) and declares music the greatest of all the arts. But when the comedians take their places on stage, he is horrified, and immediately regrets what he has agreed to do. Berating his music teacher for convincing him to make changes to his opera, he rushes out of the theater.

The Opera

Ariadne languishes in a cave on the island of Naxos, having lost her lover, Theseus. Three nymphs look on and lament her fate. Ariadne recalls her love for Theseus (Ein Schönes war), while mourning him deeply, saying that death will be her only comfort. Zerbinetta and her comedians think of how to cheer her up. Harlekin tries to amuse her with a song (Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen), but Ariadne ignores him. She resolves to await Hermes, the messenger of death, who will take her to another world where everything is pure (Es gibt ein Reich).
Zerbinetta finally addresses Ariadne directly (Grossmächtige Prinzessin), explaining to her the human need to exchange an old lover for a new one. Offended, Ariadne leaves. Zerbinetta’s colleagues then return to the scene, competing for her affection. She surrenders to Harlekin’s comic declarations of love, and the comedians exit.
The nymphs announce that a ship is approaching the island. It carries the young god Bacchus, who has escaped from the sorceress Circe. His voice is heard in the distance (Circe, kannst du mich hören?), and Ariadne thinks that Hermes finally has come to deliver her. When she sees Bacchus on the shore, she mistakes him for Theseus, but he then proclaims his godliness. Telling her he’d rather see the stars fall from the sky than lose her love, he promises her an eternity with him among the constellations. Ariadne is entranced and agrees to a new life with him. As the two ascend to the heavens, Zerbinetta sneaks in to announce that her philosophy on love was right all along.

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