Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos
© Anna-Maria Löffelberger

Ariadne auf Naxos

Richard Strauss

Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal / In German with German and English surtitles

Premiere 18. September 2021 / Salzburg State Theatre


A clownish performance or sublime art? Opera seria or commedia dell’arte? In “Ariadne auf Naxos” – a work that focuses on a “stage on the stage” – two worlds collide that could hardly be more different: a heroic opera and a comedic dance performance.

The opera “Ariadne auf Naxos” is to be performed on stage. During rehearsals, the young composer and his ensemble learn that a dance company surrounding “faithless” Zerbinetta will present a cheerful dance piece on the same stage – and both works will be performed simultaneously! The ensemble is used to improvising and accepts the challenge confidently, but the composer has a hard time making adjustments. And yet this unwanted collaboration yields new opportunities in the encounter of widely differing perspectives on art and life.

Richard Strauss uses the libretto’s double structure of a play in a play to showcase the full range of his skills as a composer. He creates a music of contrasts that effortlessly juxtaposes comedy and serious pathos as well as modern and classical elements. “Ariadne” has a long history at the Salzburg State Theatre: During the 1926 Salzburg Festival, the work became the first opera by Richard Strauss to be presented at what is now the State Theatre. The composer himself conducted one performance.


“Ariadne auf Naxos” is the third collaboration of Richard Strauss (1864–1949) and Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929). Initially one of their most difficult projects, it developed into one of their greatest triumphs: It was only the second version, which saw its world premiere in Vienna in 1916, that became an opera repertoire standard – a position it holds to this day.

Alexandra Liedtke joins forces with the Salzburg State Theatre’s Musical Director Leslie Suganandarajah in staging the work. She has attracted much attention with her opera and drama productions, e.g. for the Salzburg Festival, the Vienna Burgtheater and the Vienna State Opera. Her previous productions at the Salzburg State Theatre include “The Tales of Hoffmann”, “La Gazzetta” and “Heldenplatz”.