Ariadne auf Naxos, by composer Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, concerns the simultaneous performance of a tragedy and a comedy at a rich man’s house in Vienna, and the conflicts that arise between the two groups. The primary focus of this paper is the character Zerbinetta, a coloratura soprano who is the main performer in the commedia dell’arte troupe. Following consideration of the opera’s historical background, the first segment of this paper examines Zerbinetta’s duet with the young Composer starting from “Nein Herr, so kommt es nicht…” in the Prologue, which reveals her coquettish yet complex character. The second section offers a detailed description of her twelve-minute aria “Großmächtige Prinzessin” in the opera, exploring the show’s various levels of satire. The last segment is an investigation of the differing perspectives of the performers and the audience during Zerbinetta’s tour de force. The basis for this study is the second version of Ariadne auf Naxos, which premiered in 1916.
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