As­suredly con­trast­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

ARI­ADNE AUF NAXOS

Royal Opera House, Lon­don WC2

RICH SPON­SORS call­ing the tune are a p e r e n n i a l thorn i n the flesh of opera and this is the t o p i c o f R i c h a r d Strauss’s quirky mas­ter­piece. Covent Gar­den’s lat­est re­vival of the sleek, so­phis­ti­cated pro­duc­tion by Christof Loy is a re­sound­ing tri­umph. His stylish split-stage Pro­logue of­fers the per­fect con­trast of arid, empty wealth up­stairs with the artis­tic tem­per­a­ment and cre­ativ­ity be­low. Dra­mat­i­cally this opera can be awk­ward — an opera within an opera, ul­ti­mately show­ing that tragedy and com­edy are two sides of the same coin. But this pro­duc­tion han­dles it with an as­sur­ance that never fal­ters. Un­der the ba­ton of Sir An­to­nio Pap­pano, Strauss’s score has all the élan, warmth and hu­mour to en­rap­ture from first note to last. Karita Mat­tila is one of to­day’s great Straus­sian voices and as the Prima Donna/Ari­adne sets the bar high. Bac­chus, the tenor Roberto Saccà, doesn’t quite match her, but the daz­zling col­oratura of Jane Archibald’s Zer­bi­netta proves an ideal foil.

PHOTO: CATHER­INE ASH­MORE/ROYAL OPERA

Kar­i­taMat­ti­laand Rober­toSaccà

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