Various - Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos - The Herald

The lavishly-cast concert opera performance has been a mainstay of the Festival’s Usher Hall shows in recent years, and transferred well. Louisa Muller should take a great deal of the credit for the success of Ariadne auf Naxos as her staging made full use of the available space, with clever choreography within social distancing guidelines, and evidence of intelligent conversations about what the singers chose to wear from their own wardrobes.

Top marks as well to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, which has been a mainstay of this year’s classical concerts under four different conductors. Here that job fell to opera specialist, and former Music Director at Welsh National Opera, Lothar Koenigs, and from the overture to the finale it was a big, muscular performance.

In its 1916 revision, Strauss’s work became the original backstage musical, and as the temperamental Composer of the show we shall see later in its compromised form, Edinburgh’s Catriona Morison gave a superbly dynamic and exuberant performance in the first half, full of character and powerfully sung.

The headline name on the bill was that of German soprano Dorothea Roschmann, who was absolutely magnificent in the second half, with the German conductor assisting her in proving she can hold the stage like few other performers.

Just as memorable, however, was American Brenda Rae, making her Scottish debut in the tricky role of Zerbinetta and absolutely nailing it in a show-stopping scarlet halter-neck dress, although her coloratura would have won the day in a sweat-shirt and tracky bottoms.

The Herald
29 August 2021