Critical reactions to Ariadne auf Naxos

The first night of Ariadne auf Naxos, our new co-production with Scottish Opera, took place on Tuesday 17 July. It is the first Richard Strauss opera to be performed at OHP, and it has been met with wide critical acclaim. Take a look at some of the reviews below.

To see what our audiences thought, take a look here, or watch our brief video.

A limited number of tickets for the Friday 27 July performance of Ariadne auf Naxos are still available. Book here.

“McDonald’s production, in his own designs, is full of lively insight, helped by Helen Cooper’s irreverent English translation for the Prologue, in which the high-minded young Composer and her teacher balk at the thought of her work sharing a stage with ‘Eurotrash rubbish’.

Strauss at Holland Park is off to a flying start.”

– Erica Jeal for The Guardian ★★★★

“Richard Strauss’s opera sounds delicious, while Antony McDonald’s production skilfully negotiates the plot’s twists and turns.”

– George Hall for Financial Times ★★★★

“Delightfully fresh and done with conviction and good humour.”

– Hugh Canning for Sunday Times

“McDonald has given the prologue a dash of Glasgow sauce and tartan, with Eleanor Bron in the speaking role of the no-nonsense, Scottish, gumboot-wearing Party Planner. Mardi Byers’s resplendent Ariadne, the personification of neurosis, and Jennifer France’s fickle, sexy Zerbinetta led the ensemble, all on terrific form, from Alex Otterburn’s athletic Harlequin to Kor-Jan Dusseljee’s sober Bacchus.”

– Fiona Maddocks for The Observer

“The duet between [Jennifer France and Julia Sporsén] is the highlight of the night and takes us to the heart of what Strauss and his librettist are trying to tell us about the messiness of life, how a tiny collision of events can mean the universe. There’s also a nice double-act from the men who manage these two artists’ egos, Stephen Gadd’s tweedy music teacher and Jamie MacDougall’s blokeish producer.”

– Neil Fisher for The Times ★★★

“Superb singing from the entire cast, and excellent playing by the City of London Sinfonia under conductor Brad Cohen.”

– Clare Colvin for Sunday Express ★★★★★

“Jennifer France, pictured, throws herself exuberantly at Zerbinetta’s impossibly high-lying coloratura, while Sporsén sings gloriously as the Composer. Mardi Byers offers ideal amplitude of tone as Ariadne and is well on the way to making it her role. Kor-Jan Dusseljee as Bacchus likewise makes an admirable impression with his stamina and focused tone. Brad Cohen catches the aspiration of the Composer’s music and paces the score well, drawing fluent, refined playing from the orchestra.”

– Barry Millington for Evening Standard ★★★★

“The fine folk of Opera Holland Park have crossed a line. They’re no strangers to good work but this co-production with Scottish Opera tips over into something new: a confident display of world-class brilliance.”

– Mark Valencia for WhatsOnStage ★★★★★

“A vibrant production”

– Inge Kjemtrup for The Stage ★★★★

“This was Opera Holland Park’s first Strauss opera in its 23-year history, and on this basis I hope it won’t be the last.”

– Matthew Rye for Bachtrack ★★★★

“McDonald designs this production with its witty and romantic costumes and it is beautifully lit by Wolfgang Göbbel. Circus skills imparted by Joe Dieffenbacher add some genuinely entertaining tricks to this sparky display of all the talents – there are even real fireworks, always a winner. 

Brad Cohen, music director of Western Australia Opera, conducts the City of London Sinfonia, which conjures Strauss’s ethereal, celestial soundworld out of metal and wood.”

– Claudia Pritchard for Culture Whisper ★★★★

“There’s probably never going to be a perfectly-cast Ariadne in the opera house, but this comes closer than any I’ve ever seen live … There’s a luminous aura of smiling confidence about the whole venture – it’s had time to bed in, after all, since its Glasgow launch – and any earthly failings pale into insignificance.”

– David Nice for The Arts Desk ★★★★★

“An exceptionally successful capstone to the season, an apt choice for a summer evening and for this venue, and performed with rare invention and technical accomplishment by all concerned.”

– Tim Hochstrasser for Plays to See ★★★★★

“A magnificent evening, sculpted with real flair by Brad Cohen.”

– Colin Clarke for Seen and Heard International ★★★★

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Photos by © Robert Workman and Ali Wright for Opera Holland Park.