Ariane is an opera in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Catulle Mendès after Greek mythology (the tale of Ariadne). It was first performed at the Palais Garnier in Paris on October 31, 1906, with Lucienne Bréval in the title role.
Although not a proper sequel, as Ariane dies in both pieces, Massenet's later opera, Bacchus is a companion to Ariane, containing a number of common characters and the same librettist. Ariane has never maintained popularity and belongs to Massenet's later works that were considered outmoded for their date of composition. The piece did, however, inspire this quote from the great French composer Gabriel Fauré: "Ariane, a noble, great and moving work..." The opera was performed during Massenet's life-time, then was dropped from the repertoire, receiving only limited revivals in 1937 (February 21 and August 27, 1937) at the Paris Opéra.
Recently it has received performances in a new production at the Massenet Festival in Saint-Étienne on November 9, 2007, directed by Jean-Louis Pichon, conducted by Laurent Campellone. As one critic noted, it is one of the most Wagnerian of Massenet's operas.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast
Conductor: Paul Vidal
|Native chief||baritone||Pierre Triadou|
The story is based on the mythology surrounding Theseus and the sisters Ariane and Phèdre. The two sisters are both in love with Theseus, yet he chooses Phèdre over Ariane. When Phèdre is killed by the toppled statue of Adonis, Ariane travels to the underworld to beg Perséphone for her sister's resurrection. Softened by Ariane's offering of roses, Perséphone complies and Phèdre returns to earth. Theseus is then made to choose among the sisters again and once more chooses Phèdre, abandoning Ariane on the banks of Naxos. Distraught, she is lured into the sea by the voices of the beckoning sirens.