ARIADNE AUF NAXOS Lecture by Dr. John R. Hale for Kentucky Opera, Fall 2017

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS Lecture by Dr. John R. Hale for Kentucky Opera, Fall 2017
ARIADNE AUF NAXOS Lecture by Dr. John R. Hale for Kentucky Opera, Fall 2017

Dr. John Hale

When Richard Strauss started work on Ariadne auf Naxos in 1912, archaeologists on the island of Crete were bringing to light a vast and labyrinthine palace at Knossos.  In Greek mythology, the Cretan princess Ariadne gave the hero Theseus a sword and a ball of thread, so that he could first kill the monstrous Minotaur within the labyrinth, and then find his way safely out of the maze.  On his homeward voyage to Athens, the faithless Theseus marooned Ariadne on Naxos – another island famous for its ancient marvels, and the setting of Strauss’s “opera within an opera”.          

As Strauss was weaving mythical themes into his music, discoveries at Greek sites provided a counterpoint to his story of Ariadne’s miraculous rescue by Bacchus, the young god of wine.  In this illustrated lecture, UofL archaeologist John Hale explores how ancient myths, modern archaeology, and musical inspiration worked together to create one of the 20th century’s enduring masterpieces.