Debut of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festival della Valle d’Itria World-class cast conducted by Fabio Luisi

Debut of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festival della Valle d’Itria  World-class cast conducted by Fabio Luisi

The edition we propose in Martina Franca is the rare 1912 version, with a rhythmic adaptation in Italian by Quirino Principe; featuring Carmela Remigio, Jessica Pratt, Pietro Pretti, and Vittorio Prato among the protagonists of the performance directed by Walter Pagliaro

Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca Tuesday 21 July, 9pm
Live streaming from the Web TV of the Fondazione Paolo Grassi and on
The opera will be broadcast live on Rai Radio 3 on Sunday 26 July, 9pm

On Tuesday 21st July at 9pm we reach the heart of the 46th edition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria, with the debut at the Palazzo Ducale of Ariadne auf Naxos, an opera by Richard Strauss with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. In the purest tradition of our festival, the edition we propose is the rare 1912 version, in a new rhythmic adaptation in Italian edited by Quirino Principe – one of the world’s top Strauss experts – with Valeria Zaurino.

«The reasons behind staging Ariadne auf Naxos in its 1912 edition are several – states artistic director Alberto Triola – and some are practical, as it was our priority this year to meet all necessary safety regulations; others are purely artistic. It was key to find a work with an original orchestra set comprising of a limited number of musicians, and Strauss’ Ariadne (just like Il borghese gentiluomo) responds perfectly to this requisite as it only calls for 36 musicians. Furthermore, in order to avoid the risk of assemblage in the spaces in and around the Palazzo Ducale, we needed a work which did not last longer than 90 minutes, so as to be performed without an interval. The 1912 edition of Ariadne, again, was the perfect pick».

«At the core of our choices – Triola continues – there is always the desire not to view the issues posed by the pandemic as a limitation, but as an opportunity: this is why we have had the courage to re-design the whole 2020 programme, and preferred that to adapting the originally-chosen works to the new regulations in the field of live performance. Together with Fabio Luisi, our Festival’s music director, we wanted to add a further element of interest for our Ariadne auf Naxos: with frontiers closed it was impossible to hire German-speaking singers, so we seized the opportunity to commission Quirino Principe with a new rhythmic version of the libretto, in Italian. This would also highlight the softness, the ductility, and the richness of the extraordinary score, thanks to the use of the Italian language».

These details all contribute to make our Festival’s production unique. We thus have the opportunity to lend a different ear to a score which has some very specific features: «It’s exciting to take a close look at Strauss and Hofmannsthal’s first idea – says the Festival’s music director, Fabio Luisi – as it is even more complex than the more frequently-performed 1916 version. For example there’s a more marked juxtaposition between the two female characters: in the first version, Zerbinetta represents a much more intense crux, so much so that there emerges a difference centred on the meaning of life: on the one hand we have Ariadne’s ideal, almost unreal existence; on the other we have Zerbinetta, who knows life all too well»

It is on this dichotomy between Ariadne and Zerbinetta that Walter Pagliaro has based his direction: «What Strauss and Hofmannsthal created – he explains – is an experimental work stemming from the concept of theatre as a global ‘thing’. At the centre of the theatre we have placed a cube, which represents a cave and the place of Ariadne’s self, her ego. In this situation of isolation, in its art nouveau microcosm, the protagonist falls asleep, and dreams: in her dreams appear the characters of the Comedy of Arts. With their loudness and excessive communication, they help Ariadne elaborate her abandonment. Of course the most important encounter is with Zerbinetta. She is the protagonist’s complementary opposite: her virtuosity, her firework explosiveness, and her liveliness are exactly what Ariadne needs to snap out of her pain».

The cast of singers features world-class performers: in the title role we have soprano Carmela Remigio, on her third consecutive year in out Festival after Rinaldo and Ecuba. Bacchus is tenor Piero Pretti; Zerbinetta is soprano Jessica Pratt; Harlequin is Vittorio Prato. To complete the cast are the trio of nymphs Barbara Massaro (Naiades), Ana Victoria Pitts (Driades), and Mariam Battistelli (Echo); in the roles of the traditional Italian ‘maschere’ from the Comedy of Arts star Vassily Solodkyy (Scaramuccia), Eugenio Di Lieto (Truffaldino) and Manuel Amati (Brighella). The narrating voices are Marco Bellocchio (Monsieur Jourdain), Marco Fragnelli (Dorante), and Sara Putignano (Dorimène). Stage props are by Gianni Carluccio; costumes are by Giuseppe Palella (winner of the Abbiati prize for his previous works with us at the Festival).

The show will be streamed live both on the Web TV of the Fondazione Paolo Grassi – available for free on – and on, the platform of the Italian festival association, which this year has opened its participation in Italian festival events to audiences worldwide, through a network of Embassies, Consulates, Italian Institutes of Culture across the globe with “Estate all’italiana Festival 2020”. The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Cooperation, and Italiafestival. On the 26 July the opera will be broadcast live on Rai Radio 3.