Most people first think of Beethoven and Richard Strauss as two serious artists who created immense amounts of dramatic music. Nevertheless, both also had a sense of lightness as well. Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 follows established classical traditions, but later on amazed even the great Romantic Berlioz himself. Strauss's opera Ariadne auf Naxos, for its part, combines the mythological theme of the title with entertaining elements of the commedia dell'arte.
Beethoven wrote his Symphony No. 4 in the summer of 1806. The fast opening movement, which builds from tiny motifs after a slow introduction, is followed by one of the composer's most poetic slow movements, and then by a scherzo - one that pries open the constraints of the minuet - before leading to the finale, which is a true musical perpetuum mobile.
'There is a world where everything is pure, and this lovely world is that of the dead,' starts Ariadne's aria, in which the title character... goes from a state of initial gloom to gradually embracing the death that Hermes will bring her as redemption, all accompanied by cheerful, playful melodies. However, the Cretan princess pining over her lost love on the island of Naxos is then joined by Zerbinetta and her company of troupers, who are, to put it delicately, more than a bit alien to this mythological world. The explanation for this bizarre fusion of genres comes in the opera's first act, in the Prologue, where we find ourselves in a world not entirely unlike that of Molières's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, where upper class pretensions clash with nouveau riche tastes. An opera and a light comedy have been ordered for a fancy party, and now the two companies have to perform them together, and at the same time! In the end, Ariadne and Bacchus fall in love with each other in a beautiful and glorious duet joined by the full orchestra.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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Refreshments – Without the Queue
Thanks to our new catering service at the Átrium Snack Bar, you can forget about waiting in line during intermissions for some refreshments and get your order prepped especially for you by the time the intermission actually starts. Find out more about pre-ordering here.
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