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One of the truly overwhelming successes in recent opera history: Christian Thielemann’s sensational return to the Wiener Staatsoper to conduct his first-ever performances there of Richard Strauss, with an ideal cast in an acclaimed production of Ariadne auf Naxos.
Director Sven-Erich Bechtolf “has again delved deeply into music and text”, observed the opera magazine Opernnetz in its rave review of the performance captured here. “In Rolf Glittenberg’s beautiful Jugendstil salon, he is constantly in touch with the heartbeat of the story [...] For Bechtolf it is the subtle development of the characters and their relationships with each other, as well as the work’s delicate irony, that remain of paramount importance. As Ariadne, Soile Isokoski radiates enchanting vocal beauty as she forms endless nuances in one blossoming phrase after another. Daniela Fally sings the gruellingly difficult part of Zerbinetta with great flexibility, acting it with nonchalant coquettishness. Sophie Koch finds a wonderful note of intimacy as the composer. Effortlessly and with heroic brilliance, Johan Botha sings Bacchus, a role that has defeated many a tenor. The smaller roles are also splendidly cast.” “An event in itself was the triumph of Christian Thielemann and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra,” Opernnetz’s reviewer continued, “shaping the music with utmost care and naturalness, with unceasing transparency and chamber-like delicacy, yet also rising to ecstasy in the final apotheosis. Pure pleasure.
The only thing left to add is a fi tting quote from librettist Hofmannsthal: ‘It was a thing of beauty!’ The audience was beside itself with joy, receiving the singers with unrestrained cheers, and erupting with the force of a hurricane for Thielemann’s solo bow.”