Arizona Opera to bring magic, humor, beauty to the stage in Adriadne auf Naxos in December

The performance brings together both seasoned performers of the 2020 production and others...
The performance brings together both seasoned performers of the 2020 production and others making their debut on the Arizona Opera stage on opening night.(ELLEN APPEL | Ellen Appel)
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 5:53 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 11:20 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Arizona Opera is bringing the operatic tale of Ariadne auf Naxos, the tale of a woman named Ariadne and her broken heart after having just been abandoned by her lover Theseus.

The story in itself is satire, opening with a wealthy Viennese gentleman who invites two groups of performers to bring life to the tale of Ariadne and Theseus. Hijinks occur, and both groups are forced to perform their rehearsed performances simultaneously. Iconic composer Strauss breathes life into the score and offers wings to the well-known Composer’s Aria as well as Zerbinetta’s Aria. The opera will be performed with subtitles so audience members can become truly immersed.

The performance brings together both seasoned performers of the 2020 production and others making their debut on the Arizona Opera stage on opening night. Ariadne will be directed by critically praised Chuck Hudson, who worked recently in such operas as Don Pasquale and Falstaff. Hudson brings an extensive track record in the performing arts across the globe, from Cape Town Opera in South Africa to the San Francisco Opera Center.

Leah Hawkins, soprano, will be making her company debut as Ariadne, having just wrapped up a 2021-2022 season at The Met. She recently graduated from The Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and received the 2022 Richard Tucker Career Grant. She said she cannot remember a time that she wasn’t singing. Bringing opera to the stage in a tangible, relatable way for audiences across the world is something Hawkins said she believes is important in this day and age.

“I think often with opera, we make these characters really stock, obnoxious characters and they don’t have to be. They can be real, honest people within that,” she said. “You want to believe the people you’re watching on stage.” With Ariadne specifically, Hawkins said that around 3-4 weeks of rehearsal goes into preparing all of the moving parts for the performance. “Don’t be afraid to laugh. Don’t be afraid to cheer,” she said. “Truthfully, I want the way we approach opera to be how we approach rock concerts, RnB and pop concerts. We want that same love too!”

The performance brings together both seasoned performers of the 2020 production and others...
The performance brings together both seasoned performers of the 2020 production and others making their debut on the Arizona Opera stage on opening night.(Ellen Appel | Ellen Appel)

She said what guides her as a performer is breathing life into the connection between her characters and the audience. “That’s what draws people into all art--it’s the humanity in it, not this distance that we create through our various art forms,” Hawkins said. “It’s a connection that you feel. Just go into it with an open mind and an open heart.”

Hawkins said that bringing life to characters who audiences may perceive only in a certain light is something she also takes joy in as a performer. “It’s such a diverse room. For me, diversity isn’t just color, it’s experiences and sexualities and orientations. That’s diversity,” she said. “There’s so many different experiences in that room. That’s what opera is. That’s what art should be.”

To audience members who may have never seen an opera before, Hawkins said she hopes that Ariadne inspires a long love affair with the many beautiful, operatic scores written for the stage. “Opera is literally for everyone. I hope they walk away with the thought that this is something I enjoyed and want to do again,” she said. “The performances are honest and wonderful. On top of that I hope they realize that however we identify, when it comes to art it doesn’t matter. It should be bringing us together and not how it separates us.”

The Arizona Opera estimates that Ariadne auf Naxos will run approximately 2 hours and 32 minutes with 1 intermission. Want to get your tickets? Click here. To learn more about the show and cast, click here.