The distinguished director Katie Mitchell brings us her own take on Ariadne auf Naxos, a tale about the wealthiest man in Vienna who commissions a young composer to write a serious opera and then invites a troupe from the commedia dell’arte to come along as well. When both are instructed to perform together, the flirtatious Zerbinetta sets about convincing the tragic Ariadne that men are all the same, and indeed interchangeable. By thus juxtaposing fidelity and metamorphosis, the opera honours both Molière and Mozart with a result that is as impertinent as it is irresistible. Life leaves us no choice but to forget and move on.
Pirandello's “theatre within a theatre” is an integral part of Ariadne. The disappointments of love and life are concealed beneath a veneer of humour and a multiplicity of feelings come into play. Eventually the two worlds collide, giving way to resignation: paradise, after all, is unattainable.