Ariadne auf Naxos: A Centenary Workshop

Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal originally conceived the opera Ariadne auf Naxos as an integral part of the latter’s adaption of Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme, produced with additional incidental music in Stuttgart. Despite its virtuosic combination of different art forms and performing spaces, the premiere received a mixed reception. Anxious to redeem at least the opera, Strauss persuaded Hofmannsthal to divorce it from Le bourgeois gentilhomme and transform it into a stand-alone opera, preceded by a newly written (operatic) ‘backstage’ story. This version was an instant hit. The Berlin premiere of 1 November 1916 ushered in a long-lived success with operatic audiences around the globe. Additionally, its intriguing mélange of tragedy and comedy, opera seria and opera buffa has exerted a lasting fascination on scholars and critics.

The study day uses the centenary of Ariadne’s second version to explore its complex cultural significance and legacy, bringing together opera scholars, musicologists, literary scholars and classicists.

The study day takes place on 25 November 2016 in the Magdalen College Auditorium. It is organised by Professors Christian Leitmeir and Laura Tunbridge in association with OBERTO, the opera research unit of Oxford Brookes University.
Participation is free, but please register with:


A tragic affair? The manifestations and metamorphoses of Ariadne

Robert Vilain (University of Bristol and Christ Church, Oxford)
‘Sein wir wieder gut’: The Genesis of Hofmannsthal’s libretti for Ariadne auf Naxos
Stephanie Oade (Christ Church, Oxford)
Gazing at Ariadne: Multiple perspectives in Ariadne auf Naxos
Laura Tunbridge (St Catherine’s College, Oxford)
Ariadne, Bacchus, and the eternal masculine
Emily X X Tan (Merton College, Oxford)
Transcendence as pleasure in Ariadne auf Naxos

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

Comedy and beyond

Barbara Eichner (Oxford Brookes University)
Acting herself or being the part? Zerbinetta reconsidered
Suzanne Aspden (Jesus College, Oxford)
Commedia auf Naxos
Christian Thomas Leitmeir (Magdalen College, Oxford)
Ariadne’s hidden thread: Echo’s awakening and an unlikely marriage

Drinks reception