Recorded in 2003 at New York s Metropolitan Opera, this sumptuous production of Ariadne auf Naxos presents divas Deborah Voigt and Natalie Dessay in the contrasting roles which embody the opera s themes: the deserted princess Ariadne, a one-man woman who believes in loyalty unto death, and the flirtatious comedienne Zerbinetta, who takes a more pragmatic attitude to love and to life.
The noble, soaring lines of Ariadne gave Voigt a major breakthrough in 1991, when she sang the role in Boston, and it subsequently became her signature role. Zerbinetta exemplifies the dizzy coloratura characters which first made Dessay s reputation.
About the performance on this DVD, 2003
... Ariadne auf Naxos returned to the Met in Elijah Moshinsky´s fanciful 1993 production with Deborah Voigt as the prima donna who also portrays Ariadne in the work´s opera-within-the-opera, Susanne Mentzer as the young male composer, and Natalie Dessay as Zerbinetta, the vivacious star of a commedia dell´arte troupe.
Ms. Mentzer conveyed the harried despondency of the intensely self-serious young composer ... with fervour and vibrancy ... She also endearingly conveyed this fledgling creator´s epiphany when Zerbinetta makes him realise that other things in life, say, a pretty girl, can compensate for the temporary mutilation of his opera.
With breezy confidence, Ms. Dessay dashed off Zerbinetta´s coloratura flights, pushed to comic excess in her daunting showpiece aria. Ms. Dessay´s warm and focused sound carried easily throughout the house ... Ms. Dessay makes Zerbinetta humane and achingly funny. Ms. Voigt brought floods of cool radiant sound, arching lyrical beauty, crisp diction and sheer vocal charisma to her signature role. Both as the prima donna in a tizzy fit and as Ariadne bereft of love on her desert island, she was at once truly grand and amusingly self-deprecating, striking deadpan poses that any Broadway actor would envy.
Ariadne is rescued, of course, by Bacchus ... This dramatic tenor role ... was sung with impressive confidence by Richard Margison. The baritone Nathan Gunn´s hearty voice and light-footed nimbleness enlivened his portrayal of Harlekin. James Levine led a supple and fetchingly colored performance of the work ... During the ovations, people tore up programs to shower Ms. Dessay and Ms. Voigt with makeshift confetti, a scene now captured for some future television broadcast.
R. Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal The Music Master Wolfgang Brendel The Major-Domo Waldemar Kmentt A Lackey James Courtney An Officer Mark Schowalter The Composer Susanne Mentzer Bacchus, The Tenor Richard Margison A Wigmaker John Fiorito Zerbinetta Natalie Dessay Ariadne, The Prima Donna Deborah Voigt The Dancing Master Tony Stevenson Harlekin Nathan Gunn Brighella John Nuzzo Scaramuccio Eric Cutler Truffaldin John Del Carlo Najade Joyce Guyer Dryade Jossie Pérez Echo Alexandra Deshorties
Conductor James Levine The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus Chorus master Raymond Hughes Production Elijah Moshinsky Set and Costume Designer Michael Yeargan Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler