Ariadne auf Naxos

Richard Strauss

18 February – 24 March 2023

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A fight for the limelight

In a bustling 1950s Italian studio two films are set to be made – one a heartbreaking myth, the other a light musical comedy. Disaster strikes and the two films suddenly become one. Entertainment is in no short supply, and neither is the drama.

Comic, heroic and romantic, Ariadne auf Naxos contains some of Strauss’ greatest music, filled with soaring melodies and unforgettable moments. The multi-award nominated Rodula Gaitanou directs this new production, exploring the competition between high and low art, and bringing the audience in on its humorous mischief.

“…effervescent… a smart, satirical staging”
★★★★ — The Telegraph

“the playing is impeccable in its elegance and sensuous detail”
★★★★ — The Guardian

“hugely entertaining… the whole show took wings”
★★★★★ — The Arts Desk

Audio access flyer

A co-production with Gothenburg Opera | Supported by the Friends of Opera North

From 15*

Running time
Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes (including one interval)

Sung in German and English with English titles

Age guidance
Suitable for all

Audio described performances

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*Prices vary by venue. Booking fees may apply.

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In a 1950s Italian studio, two different films are being made: a burlesque comedy and a serious opera by the Composer, which tells the story of Greek myth Ariadne auf Naxos.

However, chaos breaks out when it is announced that, there isn’t time and money to shoot both films, so they must merge into one!

The despairing Composer refuses to allow any changes to his masterpiece, until his Music Master points out that he won’t get paid unless he accepts the situation. The opera’s score must be cut, and both lead singers – the Prima Donna and Tenor – urge the Composer to slash the other’s part rather than their own. Meanwhile, leader of the comedians Zerbinetta has her own ideas about the plot. When she turns on the full force of her charm, the Composer agrees…

Ariadne has been abandoned on the island of Naxos by her lover Theseus, and longs for death. Zerbinetta and the troupe of comedians try to cheer her up. Eventually, she addresses Ariadne directly, insisting that all the broken-hearted heroine needs to solve her problems is a new lover.

Three nymphs announce the arrival of a stranger. Ariadne thinks it is Hermes, the messenger of death, but it is the god Bacchus. He is smitten with Ariadne, who agrees to follow him to the realm of death to search for Theseus. However, they fall passionately in love, and Zerbinetta, proven correct, returns to have the last word: “When a new god comes along, we’re dumbstruck.”


Audio Introduction

This audio introduction gives detailed information about the story, the sets and costumes, the cast list, and the dates and venues of the performances.

It is to aid customers who are blind or partially sighted. Please note, the story and the details of the sets and costumes contain spoilers, so avoid them if you would prefer not to know what happens!

A large print transcript of the audio introduction is available to download.

Audio Access Flyer

Cast & creative

A woman with long dark hair in a white shirt.
Hanna Hipp


Elizabeth Llewellyn

Prima Donna/Ariadne

A man with long hair wearing a shirt.
Ric Furman

Tenor/Bacchus (exc 17 Mar and 24 Mar)

A man with a beard smiling.
David Butt Philip

Tenor/Bacchus (17 Mar and 24 Mar)

A smiling woman with should-length dark hair.
Jennifer France


A bald man with a beard.
Daniel Norman

Dancing Master

Dean Robinson

Music Master

A man with a short beard and hair brush to his right.
John Savournin


A man with short curly hair and a black t-shirt.
Dominic Sedgwick


A man with short curly hair and a beard.
Alex Banfield


A man with short hair wearing a white shirt and black jacket.
Adrian Dwyer


A bald man in a suit and jacket.
Jeremy Peaker


A man with a shirt beard and slicked back hair in a shirt.
Frazer Scott


A woman with long, dark hair.
Daisy Brown


Laura Kelly-McInroy


A woman with curly dark hair resting her head on her hand.
Amy Freston


Antony Hermus


A smiling woman with short curly hair.
Rodula Gaitanou


A man with short dark hair in a t-shirt.
George Souglides

Set and Costume Designer

A man with short hair and a beard.
Simon Corder

Lighting Designer

A woman with dark hair.
Victoria Newlyn


Ariadne auf Naxos

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