Ariane(ii) [Ariadna] (‘Ariadne’)
- Jan Smaczny
Opera in one act (three tableaux) by Bohuslav Martinů to his own libretto after Georges Neveux’s play Le voyage de hésée; Gelsenkirchen, 2 March 1961.
A significant factor determining the style and nature of this opera was Martinů’s admiration for the singing of Maria Callas, accounting for the bravura writing in the part of Ariadne (soprano). For his text Martinů returned to the author of the play on which he had based Julietta; and he had already used some lines from Le voyage de Thésée to preface the third of his orchestral Paraboly (1958). With the author’s permission, Martinů took passages from the second, third and fourth acts of the play.
After a sinfonia – the first of three in the opera – and a prologue in which a Watchman (bass) records the safe return of Theseus (baritone), the first Tableau deals with the arrival of the Athenians at Knossos. Theseus and Ariadne meet and fall in love. Ariadne fears that the Minotaur (bass) will kill him and, as evening falls, she senses the monster’s presence. The climax of the Tableau comes not with the appearance of the Minotaur, but the announcement that the king’s daughter, Ariadne, will marry the stranger, Theseus. The second Tableau presents Theseus’s encounter with the Minotaur. Knowing that no man would willingly kill his double, the Minotaur takes on Theseus’s shape. Theseus recognizes the Minotaur as the image of himself which enjoyed the bliss of a wedding night with Ariadne, and it is this which he kills. The third Tableau sees the departure of Theseus followed by a long aria of farewell (‘Thésée, je respire une dernière fois’) from Ariadne....