Opera Scotland

Ariadne on Naxos 1982Dresden State Opera

Read more about the opera Ariadne auf Naxos

Several of Strauss's operas received their premiere in Dresden, including SalomeElektra  and Der Rosenkavalier.  Later works such as Die Agyptische Helena and Arabella still await Scottish premieres. However the reopening of the excellent Festival Theatre was still a decade away, and given the limitations of the King's Theatre, Ariadne was the most obvious choice.

Joachim Herz was one of a group of disciples of the great East German director Walter Felsenstein.  Two others became well-known in the West - Götz Friedrich and Harry Kupfer.  Herz did several excellent productions in the UK - including Madama Butterfly in Wales, Salome at ENO, and Peter Grimes in Scotland.  This Ariadne was not really of their quality,  and suffered from a sense of routine that was surprising.  Nevertheless the orchestral playing was as good as could be expected iand it  was generally well sung.

There was a good sense projected of this being very much  a company ensemble performance.   Some singers came from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. One of the Zerbinettas, Jana Jonasová, was from the Czech Republic.   She was accurate in her fiendish coloratura, but had a tendency to shrillness. The. smoothly produced soprano of Ana Pusar suited the part of Ariadne well. She was from that part of western Yugoslavia that would soon once again become known as Slovenia.

The two tenors who alternated in the notoriously exposed role of Bacchus, were rather better than their colleagues.  Reiner Goldberg was already known in the west as a beautifully lyrical heldentenor, and had recently sung Walther at Covent Garden.  The ringing tones of Klaus König were equally welcome.

The Festival's opera programme

The 1982 Edinburgh Festival had an Italian theme, though the opera programme did not follow this slavishly.  Scottish Opera at least performed  an opera by a composer generally ignored in the past - Puccini - and Manon Lescaut had not been seen in Scotland since Carl Rosa days, nearly thirty years before.

German opera companies had often visited Edinburgh.  However these were generally from the West - Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart or Cologne.   Here,  less than a decade before the seemingly miraculous removal of the Wall,  we had a famous company from the East.   The Dresden State Opera was closely connected with Richard Strauss,  as the launchpad for most of his operas,   If Ariadne auf Naxos was actually premiered elsewhere,  it did at least fit the intimate King's Theatre well, and also linked to the Festival's Italian theme through its commedia element.   German companies also tended to bring a Mozart singspiel,  either Zauberflöte, or, as here, Entführung,

Welsh National Opera's contribution was Handel - the first Scottish performances of Tamerlano.  This tied in very neatly with a second Handel masterpiece,  Ariodante,  that ended the Festival in a lovely production by the Piccola Scala from Milan. They also brought a delightful early Rossini comedy, La pietra del paragone.

Performance Cast

Music Master

Werner Haseleu


Gunter Emmerlich


Jürgen Commichau (Aug 23, 28)

Günter Dressler (Aug 25)


Rainer Zakowsky


Elisabeth Hornung (Aug 23, 28)

Ute Walther (Aug 25)

Tenor Bacchus in the opera

Klaus König (Aug 23)

Reiner Goldberg (Aug 25, 28)


Jürgen Hartfiel (Aug 23, 28)

Jürgen Commichau (Aug 25)

Zerbinetta a comedian

Jana Jonašova (Aug 23)

Ulrike Joannou (Aug 25, 28)

Prima Donna Ariadne in the opera

Ana Pusar

Dancing Master

Karl Friedrich Hölzke

Harlequin a comedian

Jürgen Freier (Aug 23, 28)

Jürgen Hartfiel (Aug 25)

Scaramuccio a comedian

Karl-Heinz Koch (Aug 23, 28)

Günter Neef (Aug 25)

Brighella a comedian

Milos Jezil (Aug 23, 28)

Peter Küchler (Aug 25)

Truffaldino a comedian

Günter Dressler (Aug 23, 28)

Rolf Wollrad (Aug 25)

Naiad a nymph

Helga Termer (Aug 23)

Andrea Ihle (Aug 25, 28)

Dryad a nymph

Elisabeth Wilke (Aug 23)

Ilse Ludwig (Aug 25, 28)

Echo a nymph

Gabriele Auenmüller (Aug 23)

Barbara Hoene (Aug 25, 28)

Performance DatesAriadne on Naxos 1982

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

23 Aug, 19.30 25 Aug, 19.30 28 Aug, 19.30

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