Ariadne auf Naxos

Welcome to the Ariadne auf Naxos Educational Resources page!

Meet Ariadne.

Richard Strauss’ tour de force, Ariadne auf Naxos, tells the story of a wealthy man who has assembled two groups of performers in his home – a group of opera singers preparing for a serious opera, and a troupe of comedians scheduled to perform an Italian comedy. As time grows short, the patron demands that the opera and the comedy be performed together, leading to an array of unexpected – and ultimately very satisfying – results.

Celebrated director Francesca Zambello’s production debuted at the Glimmerglass Festival, and re-imagines the playful and passionate tale in a rural barn – set right here in TEXAS! Glorious music and vocal fireworks from an ensemble cast led by soprano Alexandra LoBianco, tenor Jonathan Burton, soprano Jeni Houser, and mezzo-soprano Aleks Romano bring this romantic tale of backstage hijinks to life.

Richard Strauss website
An entire website dedicated to the life and work of Richard Strauss.  You will find some beautiful vintage photographs and interesting information here!

Richard Strauss biography – Wikipedia

Richard Strauss biography – Encyclopedia Britannica

Richard Strauss: A Reluctant Nazi
Composer Richard Strauss took a prominent post in Hitler’s Germany – but we should not let that ruin our enjoyment of his music, writes Clemency Burton-Hill.

Ariadne auf Naxos: At a Glance
A one-page introduction to Ariadne auf Naxos, complete with character pronunciations.

Ariadne auf Naxos – synopsis 2018
A one-page, short synopsis of the story of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Synopsis from The Met
A traditional synopsis of the story of the opera.

*NOTE – The Greek character Dionysus is the same as Bacchus (Roman name) in the opera.

Theseus and Minotaur Story
This version for kids includes Ariadne’s story from the opera.

All About Ariadne

Ariadne from Wikipedia

More About Ariadne
*Warning – Artwork with nudity

Austin Opera’s production will be sung in German & English, with English dialogue.
Prologue (1st section of the opera): 45 minutes
All sung and spoken in English
Intermission: 25 minutes
Opera (2nd section of the opera): 80 minutes
Parent Info (check back for updates after staging begins January 10, 2018):  Flirtation and kissing
Appropriate for students ages 8 and up, with adequate preparation.

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS director notes 2018
A one page narrative from Jennifer Williams, Stage Director, describing this new production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Ariadne Sneak Peek
Short video clip from Glimmerglass Production (same set and costumes that you will see in the Austin Opera production)

CAST of Austin Opera’s production
A link to the Ariadne auf Naxos page on the Austin Opera Website.  Click on CAST and PRODUCTION to see all of the amazing artists that will be performing in our production!

Ariadne Program Pages

A pdf printable page featuring a list of cast and production staff.

The following are links to audio and video excerpts from various performances of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Composer’s Aria – “Sein wir wieder gut”

A video of Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano, singing the Compser’s Aria (“Sein wir wieder gut) from the Prologue of Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss.  In this scene, the Composer declares his fervent belief in the great art of music, before the performance of his opera begins.


Sein wir wieder gut.
Ich sehe jetzt alles mit anderen Augen!
Die Tiefen des Daseins sind unermeßlich!
Mein lieber Freund!
Es gibt manches auf der Welt,
Das läßt sich nicht sagen.
Die Dichter unterlegen ja recht gute Worte,
Jedoch Mut ist in mir, Mut Freund!
Die Welt ist lieblich
Und nicht fürchterlich dem Mutigen.
Was ist denn Musik?
Musik ist eine heilige Kunst zu versammeln
Alle Arten von Mut wie Cherubim
Um einen strahlenden Thron
Und darum ist sie die heilige unter dem Künsten
Die heilige Musik!


Let’s be good again.
I see everything with new eyes!
The depths of existence are immense!
My dear friend!
There are things in the world,
That cannot be said.
The inferior poet is indeed quite good with words,
But courage is in me, courage friend!
The world is lovely
But not terribly brave.
What is music?
Music gathers sacred arts
Of all kinds, courage as Cherubim,
For a radiant throne,
And that is why it is sacred below the arts
The sacred music!

The Composer – from Ariadne auf Naxos

In this short video from Seattle Opera, Kate Lindsey plays the Composer, explaining here the nuances of the part, and the motivation leading up to the aria, “Sein wir wieder gut.”

“Ein Schönes war, heiss Theseus”

Jessye Norman, soprano, sings “Ein Schönes war” in the “opera within the opera” Ariadne auf Naxos.  This recording is from a 1988 production at the Metropolitan Opera.  In this aria, the grieving Ariadne longs for death as she remembers her lover Theseus, and the members of the comedic troupe watch with concern.

Harlequin’s Aria – “Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zage”

The comedian troupe takes on the challenge of cheering up the grieving Ariadne.  In this aria, Harlequin sings a song for Ariadne, begging her to give life a chance.


Love and loathing, fear and hoping,
shining joy and dark despair
All these things the heart can bear and
hardly show a sign of wear.
But a heart detached and distant,
no emotion, numb, resigned‐‐
What a terrible existence!
The thought sends chills down my spine!
Let your heart awake to feeling,
Take the trip that needs no drug.
Let sensation set you reeling.
Say yes! Say yes to life and love.

“Es gibt ein Reich”

This video excerpt from the Metropolitan Opera features Jessye Norman as Ariadne.  In this aria, Ariadne, who has been abandoned by her lover Theseus, describes and welcomes death, where she intends to go to escape her pains and find the life she has been denied on earth.


There is a realm where everything is pure:
It has also a name: dead realm.
Here nothing is pure!
Here everything comes to everything.

Soon, however, a messenger,
Will approach. He is called Hermes.
With his staff he governs the souls:
Like light birds,
Like withered sheets he drives them.

You beautiful, quiet God!
See! Ariadne waits!
Oh, of all wild pain
The heart must be cleaned;
Then will your face nod to me,
You will step before my cave,
Darkness will be on my eyes
Your hand will be on my heart.

In the beautiful celebration dresses,
That my mother gave me,
These members will remain,
This silent cave will become my grave.

But quietly my soul follow its new Master,
Like a light sheet hoisted down follows,
So will I gladly follow.

You will set me free! Take me,
Give me rest, by taking my life from me.
I will lose myself completely to you.
With you Ariadne will remain.

Zerbinetta’s Aria – “Großmӓchtige Prinzessin” – Part 1

Zerbinetta’s Aria – “Großmӓchtige Prinzessin” – Part 2

Kathleen Battle, soprano, sings in these two excerpts from a Metropolitan Opera production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

After the comedic troupe fails to cheer up Ariadne,  their leading lady, Zerbinetta has a heart-to-heart chat with the doomed princess.  In this coloratura aria, Zerbinetta reminds Ariadne that there is always another man waiting in the wings – all women suffer for love, but there comes a time to move on.


Forget your dancing
stop that singing
Just step aside.
Hush, let me try.

Don’t think me disrespectful. I am well aware you are a princess, and your feelings have a deep profundity that’s quite beyond any simple, ordinary grief.

I know—you’re on a higher plane.
That said, aren’t we both women, in the end? And don’t we each possess a heart that’s independent, mysterious and strange?

We try to keep them hidden, those unbidden feelings‐‐
And yet when they arise I get a special kind of thrill.
You act like you don’t hear me.

Stern and striking, cold as ice, like some old marble monument above a lonely tomb. The only things you bother to acknowledge are silent stones and the relentless ocean.

If only I could make you see. It’s not just you.
All women, yes, all women, know the pain of love.
How can you think that heartbreak is your own invention?
Abandoned! Broken‐hearted! Left for dead!

Ah, isolation has its victims ev’rywhere, even in teeming cities. Yes, I’ve been there. I too have known depression and despair. But still, I’d never dream of giving up on romance. Awful… I know…

Men are monsters, slaves of passion. Someone turns his head, they go for a drink, a walk on the beach, a laugh and a wink, she touches his hand, he loses his heart!

But then, who are we to judge?

We’ve felt the viciousness….deliciousness…the annexation of the heart by love.  Make up my mind to finally be faithful

I tell myself settling down would be smart
But something comes o’er my heart like a fever
leaving me sweaty, edgy and breathless
Quite unexpectedly, amorous feelings
lodge themselves, nestling deep in my heart.

My hand in his, and yet, my eyes wander.
My actions are tame, my mind is wild.
I play by the rules while I silently ponder,
and caught in a web of half‐conscious obsession,
a new love engulfs me and drowns my resolve.

It happened with Pagliaccio, and Mezzetin!
And after Cavicchio came Burratin.
Then Pasquariello, and after that,
if I’m not mistaken, I had a pair!

More than mere fancy‐‐ something compelled me, drew me,
a fluttering moth to the fire.
Oh, my heart gets me in trouble ev’ry time,
Ah, this flighty heart of mine.

Like a god each man appeared before me
I was tongue‐tied—dazed and confused.
With a kiss he sweetly lured me
like a god in all his glory and became my sun and moon.

Like a god each man sang me his story with a captivating tune.
With a touch he reassured me.
I surrendered with a swoon.
When a god appeared before me

I surrendered with a swoon.

A 2003 performance from de l”Opera national de Paris

The opera Araidne auf Naxos in its entirety, with French subtitles.
This version features a fabulous performance by Natalie Dessay in the coloratura role of Zerbinetta.

This webpage features a wonderful set of art lessons from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
They focus on the artwork Ariadne Abandoned by the female painter Theseus by Angelica Kauffman, 1774.

Click here for the ArtCard for the painting.

Objectives for the lessons include:

  • Analyze a work of art
  • Explore emotional responses to art
  • Create original works of art
  • Analyze elements of art and principles of design
  • Understand an artist’s contributions to society, culture, and history
  • Evaluate the purpose of a work of art
  • Create original writing based on an arts experience
  • Analyze story elements in art, including characters, setting, plot, emotion and drama

*Warning – there is “partial” nudity in this painting.
An interactive look from the National Gallery of Art in London, England.

More about the painting:
*Warning – there is “partial” nudity in this painting.

KHAN Academy Lesson 
*Warning – there is “partial” nudity in this painting.
A great way to learn more about the art of the Renaissance in Venice!
This lesson features Titian’s painting.

Wikipedia – About Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne

Did you know that there is a constellation named after Ariadne’s crown?  Here are some cool astronomy websites to learn about Corona-Borealis and other stars connected to mythology.

All about Corona-Borealis


Keeping up with the story and characters in the opera Ariadne auf Naxos can be a challenge.
Here is a great interactive activity that you could do with your class or assign to individual students to summarize the key elements in the story.

Check out the Bio Cube webpage and try the Story Cube!

PACIFIC OPERA VICTORIA guide to Ariadne auf Naxos
published in 2014

This publication includes some great information about several aspects of the opera, including:

  • the mythology included in Ariadne auf Naxos (pages 5-7)
  • the Commedia dell’arte characters – AKA the burlesque farce and troupe (pages 8-9)
  • the Words and Music in the opera (pages 10-15)
  • recommended musical excerpts to listen to, with detailed descriptions (pages 16-18)
  • extensive list of more resources, many of them online (pages 19-21)
  • mythology
  • astronomy
  • geography


Ariadne references in musical and non-musical works

Check out this word document list for references to Ariadne in literature, poetry, art, theatre, comics, TV and music.
* You can also find this list on the Wikipedia page for Ariadne.