For the opera 'Ariane' by Jules Massenet, see here
Ariane is a one-act opera by Bohuslav Martinů to a text by the composer drawn from a play by Georges Neveux, (who also supplied the text to the composer's opera Julietta).
Martinů composed Ariane in 1958 whilst working on his last opera, The Greek Passion - he described it in a letter to his family as 'taking a rest' from the larger work. The composition took just over a month. The bravura style of the writing for Ariadne reflects Martinů's admiration of Maria Callas.The opera is in a straightforward lyrical style with deliberate references to the operas of Monteverdi and other early composers.
The first performance took place in Gelsenkirchen in 1961, two years after the composer's death.
The story is a surrealist
version of the myth of Theseus
, and the Minotaur
Prologue (episode of 1st Sinfonia)
The Watchman learns of the arrival in Knossos
of Thésée and his companions from a passing seagull
Thésée seeks the Minotaur and encounters Ariane. In an ambiguous conversation they seem to fall in love - but Ariane's love may be in fact for the Minotaur. The Old Man announces that the kings daughter is to be married to a stranger. Ariane reveals that she is the king's daughter and Thésée is the stranger - and asks for his name.
After a second sinfonia, Bouroun is dissatisfied that Thésée's infatuation with Ariane is preventing him from killing the Minotaur. Resolving to do the deed himself, he is killed by the Minotaur (offstage). When the Minotaur appears, he turns out to be Theseus's double, and taunts him -'who dares lift his hand to strike himself a death-blow?'. Thésée slays the Minotaur however.
A third sinfonia separates the scenes. Thésée and his companions desert Ariane, whose lyrical lament closes the opera.
The whole opera, including the three miniature 'sinfonias' which introduce and punctuate it, lasts little more than 40 minutes (of which Ariane's lament takes about 9).