I have been listening to this one for a while. At first I was put off by what Ariadne was singing, even though Jessye Norman sings it so well. Ariadne welcomes death, not so much because she is suicidal, but because she is an idiot. She wants to escape from the complications of life and sees a land of purity and peace, and she wants to go there without seeming to quite get that the land of peace is the land of everlasting peace. But it isn’t just that she’s stupid that put me off. Strauss, the composer, was a Nazi, and I can’t help seeing Nazism in Ariadne’s glorification and romanticization of death.

However, I have changed my tune on this aria. First of all, Strauss didn’t write the libretto and I don’t think that he could have really believed what Ariadne is singing. He composed operas after all and must have appreciated the value of a little drama at the expense of order. I have also come to view Ariadne as something of a pitiable figure. She is so miserable that she wants to leave this world. And her character, although it is hard to tell from the story of the opera, may have been in part comic relief for being so ridiculous.

And speaking of grand dames on the stage, special props have to be given to Susan Boyle who yet again came second. If Miss WESA is unable to fulfill her duties…

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