GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: Sean on June 07, 2007, 12:03:45 PM

Title: Ariadne auf Naxos- a few thoughts
Post by: Sean on June 07, 2007, 12:03:45 PM
Perhaps a relation with Cosi, one of Strauss's two favourite operas, where despite being overwhelming, love is transferable because universal and timelessness, not isolated with one other person. Ariadne is abandoned by Theseus but reconciled by the god Bacchus, who she first takes to be the god of death that she wants to end her life: she yields instead to new love for him. And hence as in Tristan, his other favourite, death and sex merge...

Bacchus underlines the Wagnerian (esp ref Kundry's kiss in Parsifal) relation between carnality and enlightenment, saying ‘My godhead is awakened in me to grasp your glorious being complete’ and ‘Now I am quite other than I was’. He becomes fully a god after lovemaking with Ariadne, whereas in his only previous amorous encounter, with Circe, he hadn't succumb to her magic potions, or feminine charms- which ensnared her lovers and turned them into animals. He wasn’t turned into an animal- and is only now, finding the unity of relative senory and absolute love. Bacchus thought Ariadne must be just another Circe, and Ariadne thought Bacchus was her god of death ie both trying to reconcile and make sense of the other ratio-nally, but then becoming transfigured by love that goes beyond all their reasoning.

Their ideas of love are both misplaced ie she’s elevated it in the wrong way and he’s downgraded it in the wrong way- both mental constructs. Ariadne see Bacchus as death but in giving to him in sex, finds life- ie to be had is to have, and possessions possess you as much as you possess them etc: he’s life and death at once.

Zerbinetta sees love as casual, which is also true, both absolute and relative together: trifles are serious... In her long coloratura aria she speaks of being in love with another ‘and half self knowing and half in frenzy’ yet, as with the Cosi situation, ‘Just when I feel completely sure of myself, there steals into my sweetly deluded heart a new and stealthy love’: there can be thought of another even in the height of passion.

The backstage scenes of the Prologue and the farce scenes interpolations makes the serious remainder of Ariadne and Bacchus a play within a play, with parallels with Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer nights dream (& to some extent in Romeo and Juliet): life is but a play, in that we are in the world but not of it, and need to think and act with transcendental reference. Hofmannsthal’s original idea indeed was to have more audience response to the serious action, as per in P&T; there was originally also to be an earthy couple and a magical couple again as in MSND. Also Zerbinetta’s inconstancy may refer to the cluelessly inconstant characters in the main part of MSND.

The essence of life is the timeless formless Dionysian, in pure form the orgasm, out of which issues intuitive structure, Ariadne saying death being the realm where all is pure- but Salome also makes the point to Jochaanan that ‘the mystery of love is better than the mystery of death’...