Arianna in Creta


  1. 20.03.2013
  2. 7:00 p.m.

In his settings of mythological themes, George Frideric Handel also portrayed the power of the supernatural which had otherwise disappeared from opera in his days. In Arianna in Creta, the fight with the Minotaur plays a central role. The supposedly Theban royal daughter Arianna lives as a hostage at the court of King Minos. Athens must provide the Cretan king with even virgins as food for the creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. Teseo, son of the Athenian king, asks Minos for permission to fight the Minotaur to release Athens from having to pay this grisly tribute. Arianna, who loves Teseo, is angry, but King Minos agrees to the fight. The story of Ariadne had already inspired Claudio Monteverdi to the opera L’Arianna, of which only the famous lamento survived. In Ariadne auf Naxos Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal also tell her tale. Handel’s Arianna in Creta had to fight off direct competition from the newly founded Opera of the Nobility in 1734 and premiered successfully on 26 January in the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London. It was performed sixteen times and revived in November the same year at Covent Garden.