Ariadne auf Naxos | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader

Ariadne auf Naxos Member Picks All Ages Soundboard Recommended

When: Tue., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m., Mon., Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. 2011

The first version of this transcendent satire debuted 99 years ago as a six-hour, two-cast production that followed a full-length stage play with a 90-minute opera. When that proved unwieldy, composer Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal reinvented it as a two-act opera within an opera. The short first act is a behind-the-scenes "prologue" that lays out this conceit: two troupes of 17th-century performers (one about to debut a serious work of opera, the other preparing a raucous comedy) are told at the last minute that they'll have to perform simultaneously. The second act is the resulting performance—a Greek tragedy, punctuated by commedia dell'arte pranks. The current witty, eye-pleasing production at Lyric Opera is a feast of talent, starting with the three lead sopranos: mezzo Alice Coote, in the trouser role of the distraught young opera composer; Anna Christy as a perfect Zerbinetta, the mischievous main attraction of the comedy troupe; and Amber Wagner as the diva who sings Ariadne, who's ready to die because she's been dumped. (Wagner, who took over when Deborah Voigt stepped out a few months ago, has the vocal chops of a real diva; the acting chops, not so much.) Supporting players turn in many excellent performances as well, and Ryan Center tenor Rene Barbera in particular stands out. Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera orchestra, with stage direction by John Cox. This production runs through December 11. —Deanna Isaacs

Price: $34-$254.

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